Floods, saltwater and freshwater

Castles in the Sand

The poet W. H. Auden said, “Thousands have lived without love, not one without water.” Surely, he meant both freshwater and the ocean water since both feed the body and soul, but both can have their challenges and both are subject to flooding.

Let’s start with the waters that surround our Island. This is the saltwater that feeds our souls. Those of us who choose to live on the Island or near the surrounding waters would never think of living in a landlocked state, it’s just who we are. But we do pay a price for it and that price may be increasing soon.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has published new Flood Insurance Rate Maps which will change the base flood elevation for many Manatee County property owners. The last time these maps were updated were 30 to 40 years ago and since then there has been much new technology to better analyze data. In addition, the new maps will consider wave action as well as the height of flood waters.

The result of this will be more accurate maps and could result in flood zone ratings going up for some properties, down for others or no change at all. You can determine how your property is affected by checking the Manatee County website, www.manatee.org and keyword search “flood zone.”

The flood zones are assigned a letter and are also color-coded on the maps. Here is a quick review: A (blue), AE (lavender), Floodway (pink), VE (green), X (shaded) and X (no color). A, AE, Floodway and VE are all high-risk for flood and typically require flood insurance. X (shaded) is moderate risk and does not typically require flood insurance and X (no color) is low risk and does not typically require flood insurance.

As most homeowners who have a federally backed mortgage know, you are required to have flood insurance as one of the terms of the mortgage. However, all homeowners in flood zone areas should carry flood insurance. Also, the Manatee County website has lots of good information specific to your property so it’s worth taking a look at for a variety of reasons, including flood zone information.

But what about the other water essential to our lives, freshwater. It may come as a surprise that flooding in the home is the number one risk that everyday consumers make insurance claims on. One in 50 homeowners filed a water damage claim each year between 2013 and 2017.

Part of the reason there are so many more claims compared to previous years is the increase of water-using appliances like wet bars and water filtration systems as well as the popularity of second story laundry rooms. Old pipes in aging homes, worn out valves and worn out hoses contribute to interior floods.

Some of this can be mitigated by inspecting the caulking around tubs and shower stalls, watching for drips under sinks in both the kitchen and bathrooms, and changing hoses to dishwashers, washing machines and ice makers. Condo living is especially vulnerable to leaks from upper units and residents of upper units should be especially vigilant. There is some technology available containing water detecting sensors but at this stage, they are not 100 percent dependable.

Water is life but too much of it can be deadly and inconvenient. So, check the new floods zone maps and check the old hoses, then relax and enjoy the view.

More Castles in the Sand:

Taxes come and gone

Real estate process speeding up

Traffic, real estate sales up