FEMA advises Bay County residents about flood risks

Bay County

BAY COUNTY Fla. (WMBB) — Many Bay County residents attended a workshop to make sure they’re prepared for future flooding events.

The open house allows them to go over changes to flood zones and insurance costs with FEMA and other local agencies.

The last time FEMA updated these maps was back in 2009, and a lot has changed around Bay County since then.

Chris Perez, FEMA Region Four Emergency Management Specialist, said this was for residents to see how they are personally affected by these changes.

“Really the purpose is we want people to know their risk,” Perez said. 

Representatives from FEMA, Northwest Florida Water Management District, Florida Department of Emergency Management, Bay County, The City of Panama City, and The City of Springfield came out to help people make a plan for the next time it floods. 

“So we will sit you down, we will get your address, you’ll sit with somebody who will show you exactly where you were mapped previously and where you are mapped now,” Perez said. 

This new study done by FEMA was done with new technology to calculate elevations and other factors that lead to flooding.

“A lot of the areas were X zoned that got hit kind of hard especially in Mexico Beach and Panama City as well so that is one factor to the data that we put into this study,” Perez said. 

Residents like Fred Bernhard, a Panama City Beach resident, had the opportunity to meet face to face with experts and learn what they need to do for their property

“I feel great about it because we were in flood zone X before and we still are so that’s fantastic. I’m really happy about that,” said Bernhard. 

As well as talk about possible changes to insurance rates. Brian Grey, a Lynn Haven resident, said he was affected by Hurricane Michael even though he thought his home wasn’t in a flood zone. He said this workshop is a great way to stay on top of things.

“I suspected I was kind of outside of a flood zone but they confirmed today that I was in the lowest possible flood zone so at least I won’t have to pay any more insurance hopefully,” said Grey.

The goal is to make this process easier for residents and keep homes protected in the future

“We really want them to understand their risk and be prepared and help them understand that insurance really is your first defense against these catastrophic disasters,” Perez said. 

If this workshop is something that could benefit you, FEMA is offering virtual appointments as well. You can sign up for those appointments by clicking HERE. The deadline to sign up is Friday, July 23. 

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