New FEMA Flood Map: Where Does Your Manatee Home Stand?


SARASOTA, FLORIDA, May 7, 2019 – Valuations of real estate for sale in Manatee County may need some adjustments, as The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently released its new FEMA preliminary flood insurance rate maps (FIRM). The insurance rates for many Manatee homes for sale would be impacted by the new FIRM and its elevation requirements, since this is the first time in over 30 years that the FEMA maps are being redrawn. Flood risks, over time, change because of environmental shifts, weather events, land use, erosion, and other factors.

For some homeowners, the impact of the new maps looms as a positive factor. The FEMA’s updated flood hazard maps indicate that many homes west of the Upper Manatee River Road, north of Port Harbour Parkway, and south of Manatee River may no longer require flood insurance.

Specifically, this relief on paying for flood insurance may benefit some homeowners in the neighborhoods of Heritage Harbor, River Strand, and Waterlefe Golf & River Club. In the FEMA maps, some 100 residential properties have been dropped from the high-risk zones. Some of these homes which no longer required flood insurance are along Winding Brook Lane, Winding Stream Way, River Hammock Driver, Riverbank Terrace, and Grand Estuary Trail.

Useful Reference Tools

The base flood elevations in the new FEMA maps have been updated and are deemed as more accurate than the older maps. As FEMA defines it, base flood elevation is the point at which floodwater is foreseen to rise in a flood event.

Manatee County has come up with an online Flood Zone Information Tool useful for homeowners as well as realtors and home buyers to assess the risk of flooding in their respective properties of interest.

FEMA, for its part has set up a web-based viewer for changes in the FIRM. This online tool and its instructions for users is available on FEMA’s Community Flood Hazard page.

FIRMs show whether properties are in high, moderate or low flood risk areas. Many property owners may discover that their risk is higher or lower than the prior FEMA reading. If the risk level for a certain property goes up, its owner may be required to carry flood insurance.

New Flood Control Fee Mulled

In a related development, Manatee County is likewise analyzing flood-prone communities in order to determine how it could levy a new fee on either utility bills or property tax to finance stormwater projects.

In November last year, a civil engineer for the county, John Pari, reported that additional stormwater retention of 240 acres is needed in the Pearce Canal area and for the Bowlees Creek area, another 85 to 90 acres. These areas as well as other rural and urban neighborhoods have complained about occasional flooding.

Aside from additional financing for stormwater retention and canal maintenance, the County Commission is looking for funding sources for dredging and other projects to improve drainage and reduce flooding.

Based on consultants’ preliminary estimates, the county needs an additional $7.4 million to improve its flood mitigation services. For the average household, this could translate in added levy of $15.01 monthly or $180.12 annually.