Water-Related News

Polk County urges its residents to take flooding seriously

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BARTOW – Only about two percent of single-family homes in Polk County – which was hit hard by Hurricane Ian – are covered by federal flood insurance. This is hard to comprehend, especially when you consider that just one inch of floodwater can cause up to $25,000 in damage and that most homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. Flood insurance is a separate policy that can be purchased from FEMA at www.floodsmart.gov.

Floods are the No. 1 natural disaster in the United States. According to www.riskfactor.com, there are 42,264 properties in Polk County that have greater than a 26% chance of being severely affected by flooding over the next 30 years. This represents 15% of all properties in Polk County.

“There’s a tendency to say that it won’t happen to me,” said Paul Womble, director of Polk County’s Emergency Management Division. “And I can understand that rationale. People think they’re safe because Polk County is in the middle of the state, away from coastal flooding. However, there is no safe place when it comes to flooding. Floods are caused by weather, and weather is unpredictable.”

In addition to insurance, here are other steps people can take to prepare for flooding:

  1. Know your flood risk. Start learning about flood zones at www.polk-county.net/floodplain-management.
  2. Take a household inventory. Use your cellphone to document your possessions.
  3. Store important documents, including financial and medical information in a secure water-resistant storage area.
  4. Elevate and anchor utilities. Elevating and anchoring equipment can help limit water damage and prevent extended disruptions in service.
  5. Use sandbags to help elevate water intrusion into the home during a severe weather event.
  6. Clear debris from gutters to maintain proper water drainage.
  7. Ensure the perimeter of your home at ground level is properly sealed because over time cracks can occur that could allow water to filter into the home.
  8. Elevate or move furniture to keep it safe.

For more information on prepping for disasters, visit www.polk-county.net/emergency-management or go to Polk County Emergency Management’s social media accounts:

  • Facebook: PolkCountyEM
  • Twitter: @PolkEmergency