Because so much of Florida is at or near sea level, flooding is a common problem. Even a minor flood can be a disaster for the people who are forced to cope with it. Quickly-rising water can cause millions of dollars of damage to homes and businesses.
Hurricanes and Tropical Storms
Hurricanes and tropical storms can bring significant storm surges, which can flood large areas. Even a Category 2 hurricane brings a storm surge of at least six feet above normal. A major hurricane can bring a storm surge of twice that, or even more. For Floridians who live only a few feet above sea level, this can be a major problem. If a storm surge occurs at high tide, the effects can be devastating.
Florida regularly experiences strong thunderstorms, especially in summer. These storms can produce great amounts of rain very quickly. If drainage systems are unable to keep up with the water levels, flooding occurs. Even when there is adequate drainage in one area, the water may flow into a river, and the sudden rise in the river level may flood a different area.
Because flooding is such a common problem in Florida, homes and businesses need to be protected with flood insurance. Because the damage from these common disasters can be so great, flood insurance in Florida is very expensive. The cost of not having the necessary insurance coverage, though, can be far greater.
Florida’s low-lying, populated areas are often divided into flood zones. These zones detail which places are likely to be affected by different categories of hurricanes and tropical storms, and when residents should be ready to evacuate. Emergency-management officials use these zones to simplify the incredibly difficult process of hurricane evacuations.