Flooding and Mitigation

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Flooding and Mitigation 

Flooding causes more property damage every year in the United States than any other type of natural disaster. A flood is a general or temporary condition where two or more acres of normally dry land areas or two or more properties are inundated by water or mudflow. Floods can be caused by many different conditions including hurricanes or storms, storm surge, heavy rain, prolonged rain, failure of dams, above average rainfall or inadequate drainage. The impact can be small, only impacting a few properties, or very large, impacting entire communities. Some floods develop slowly over a period of weeks, or quickly, in the case of a flash flood.

The Leon County Emergency Information Portal contains warnings and information for active flood events. Additional information on flood warnings can be heard on local radio and TV stations.

How Does Leon County Handle Flooding and Mitigation?

Leon County Government's many departments and divisions work together to protect the health, safety and welfare of citizens through programs that reduce flood risk and protect our environment, while maintaining our community's livability. Since the initiation of a capital improvement plan in 2010 after Tropical Storm Faye, Leon County has spent nearly $10 million on flooding alleviation and road projects.

All areas throughout Leon County have the potential to flood, but some areas have a higher probability of flooding than others. The areas around the waterbodies of Leon County such as streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands are all susceptible to overland flooding. Many of the waterbodies in Leon County have been mapped in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs).

Flooding in Leon County is usually caused by one or more of the following factors:

  • Hurricanes & tropical storms;
  • Heavy rains;
  • Flash floods;
  • Dams and levees;
  • Closed basin flooding;
  • Sheetflow flooding; and 
  • Overland flooding.

Leon County requires the issuance of all appropriate building permits prior to any construction in the County. Permits are obtained after building plans are submitted and approved. An important part of this review process is the requirement that structures be built high enough and use proper design techniques to protect against flood damage. If you plan to construct an addition to your house, build a new house, fill a property or begin any development, call Leon County Development Support & Environmental Management at (850) 606-1300 for information on how to obtain the necessary permits.

Leon County's Stormwater Maintenance Division responds to all stormwater service requests within unincorporated Leon County, inspects County stormwater systems for maintenance problems to ensure systems are functioning properly and mows vegetation in stormwater ditches and ponds. Please call 606-1400 or visit the Leon County webpage to report any unusual flooding in unincorporated Leon County.

How You Can Protect Yourself From Flooding Issues

There are several cost-effective things you can do to minimize or eliminate property damage before a flood event occurs. Leon County encourages citizens to stay  protected through participating in Before The Flood activities, and consider making structural and retrofitting changes to vulnerable homes and businesses.

Click here to visit Leon County's Flood Protection site and learn more about flooding risks, how to prepare for a flood and what you should do after a flooding event. 

Flood watch vs a flood warning

To protect yourself, it is important to learn what flood threats affect our community and your property and consider the following questions:

  • Are there rivers or creeks near you that flood frequently?
  • Is your home located in a low-lying area?
  • What is your home's elevation relative to the surround ground?

Just because you haven't experienced a flood in the past, doesn't mean you won't in the future. Flood risk isn't just based on history, it's also based on rainfall, river-flow, tidal-surge data, topography, flood-control measures and changes to the urban environment.

For more information on flooding, contact Leon County's Division of Emergency Management at (850) 606-3700.


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