What is a floodplain?
A floodplain is flat or nearly flat land adjacent to a stream or river that experiences occasional or periodic flooding.
Floodplains serve many useful purposes, and those that are preserved in their natural or nearly natural state provide a wide range of benefits. For example, floodplain areas hold, filter, convey and disperse floodwaters. Without the preservation of these natural floodplains, floodwaters would overwhelm developed areas.
What causes it in St. Lucie County?
Flooding in St. Lucie County is caused by heavy rainfall that occurs in short periods of time, as is common during summer thunderstorms. However, the greatest flood threats come from the excessive amounts of rainfall that accompany coastal storms, tropical storms and hurricanes. In the past decades Tropical Storms Gabrielle and Ernesto and Hurricanes Charley, Frances, Ivan, Jeanne and Wilma have produced damaging floods in St. Lucie County.
What can I expect if a storm approaches?
Residents should be aware that St. Lucie County has an Emergency Management Plan (EMP) that includes a number of warning systems, outlined below, which provide citizens with up to the minute information on impending storms or flood threats. A Family Plan can be very helpful in a time of stress.
St. Lucie County Emergency Operations Center (EOC)
The St. Lucie County EOC works with the cities, the National Weather Service, and the National Hurricane Center to monitor flood and storm threats and advise the community accordingly.
St. Lucie County Emergency Management Plan
When a storm or flood threatens to impact the county, the EOC is activated. The county has its own weather consultant who provides EOC staff with detailed and site specific information regarding storm conditions and flood threats. EOC workers issue updates, warnings and evacuation notices as needed over cable television and alert radios.
A map of the Hurricane Shelters, Surge Zones, and Evacuation Routes is available here.
National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System
The National Flood Insurance Program provides federally backed flood insurance to communities that participate in the Community Rating System. The Water Quality Division is responsible for coordination of the Community Rating System with FEMA. Under this program, the operations of various County Departments are evaluated and scored in activities that include public information, mapping, regulations, flood damage reduction and flood preparedness. As a result of this program, St. Lucie County residents with property located in Special Flood Hazard Areas may purchase and receive a twenty percent discount on flood insurance premiums for policies issued under the National Flood Insurance Program.
Coastal Flood Risk Study
In Fiscal Year 2011, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) initiated a coastal flood risk study for the East Coast Central Florida Study Area that affects Brevard, Indian River, Martin, and St. Lucie Counties. The results of that study have been incorporated into updated digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and Flood Insurance Study (FIS) reports for these counties.
In 2015, FEMA issued updated digital Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and an associated Flood Insurance Study report that were adopted by St. Lucie County. This study included analyzes for rivers, streams, and creeks but did not include a coastal analysis.
FEMA recently released the Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for the Coastal Flood Risk Study that are now available for review by the public. To view what effect the study may have on your property please select the “Preliminary Coastal Flood Risk Map” button.