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Charlotte County Flood and Flood Insurance Information

The following page provides resources and information about Charlotte County’s flood risks, flood insurance and flood protection services.

On this page you will find the following information:

  1. What the main risks of flooding are in Charlotte County and how to find out if your structure is at risk.
  2. Link to the County’s Geographic Information Service (GIS) and instruction on how to find an Elevation Certificate or Letter of Map Amendment for your property.
  3. Charlotte County’s flood warning system
  4. Information about flood insurance in Charlotte County and links to other resources about flood insurance.
  5. How to protect your property from flooding.
  6. What to know before starting construction.
  7. Natural and beneficial functions of Charlotte County’s floodplains.
  8. A link to current river gauge information.
  9. Links to other sites and documents with additional information and resources

Links and Useful Resources

Flood Zone Map - Evacuation Zone Map - Flood History
Local Mitigation Strategy
Managing Flood Insurance Claims - Claims Handbook (English)
Fact Sheet - After the Flood (Spanish) - Claims Handbook (Spanish)
FloodSmart: the official site of the NFIP - FloridaDisaster.org
Current River Gauge Information from the U. S Geological Survey

About Charlotte County’s Flood Hazards

Charlotte County is a low lying area with many different types of flood risks. We have both the Peace and Myakka Rivers that flow into Charlotte Harbor along with many tributaries and creeks that could be prone to flooding. We have a great deal of shoreline along our rivers and creeks, Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf of Mexico in addition to barrier islands.

Flooding can occur anywhere in the County and does not have to be as a result of something that happens within the County.
Typical sources of flooding for Charlotte County include the following:

  1. Hurricanes and Tropical Storms directly impacting the area
  2. Hurricanes and Tropical Storms passing near to the area that could cause excessive rainfall, coastal storm surge or extremely high tides.
  3. Significant rainfall events either with heavy rainfall in a short period of time or rainfall for a prolonged length of time, some flooding could occur from a single summertime storm.
  4. Rainfall events further upstream or inland of Charlotte County can cause rivers to rise and flooding in the County even though we have seen no direct weather event

Charlotte County participates in the National Flood Insurance Program. This is a federal program operated by the Federal Emergency management Agency (FEMA) that provides a partnership between FEMA and the local jurisdiction. As part of this partnership, the NFIP agrees to map Charlotte County and identify areas that are prone to flooding in return; the County agrees to manage development within these areas to minimize the impacts of flooding. Because this partnership exists, the NFIP is able to provide flood insurance coverage in Charlotte County.

When mapping the areas at risk, FEMA analyze all the potential sources of flooding and provide the County with a map that indicates what type of flooding a property could expect and how high a flood could be. The resulting map is called the Flood insurance Rate Map or FIRM. On that FIRM, are Flood Zones, each zone shows the type and potential depth of flooding.

Areas that have a 1% chance in any given year of flooding to a specific level are considered to be at high risk of flooding. These areas are known as the Special Flood Hazard Area and within these areaas, Flood insurance is mandatory if the structure has a federally backed mortgage.

However, flood insurance is highly advisable no matter your level of risk – it is even available in areas that are not at a high risk. Remember – your regular insurance policy does not cover you for losses as a result of a flood.

How To Know If You Are At Risk Of Flooding

The following maps show areas vulnerable to the different levels of storm surge and areas subject to flood from a 1% chance or100-year rainfall event and a 0.2% chance or 500-year rainfall event:

The first map shows evacuation zones – these are linked to storm surge only and relate to when you need to evacuate if instructed to do so. The colors on this map correspond to color bandings you will see on street signs in your area.

Evacuation Zone Map

Evacuation Zones

Charlotte County Evacuation Zones (4.3 MB pdf)

This second map shows the various areas at risk from flooding in the County. Please remember though that just because your property is not in a high risk area, does not mean that you will not experience flooding. Charlotte County has many flooding hazards and these hazards do not follow a line on a map.

Flood Zone Map

Flood Zone Map

Click on map for larger view

  • Pink = VZone (velocity zone – areas prone to rising flood waters with the added impact of waves of above 3ft in height)
  • Green = A Zone (1% chance or 100 year floodplain)
  • Yellow = X Zone (0.2% chance or 500 year floodplain)
  • Brown = D Zone (undetermined flood zone)

For information on the flood risk to a specific property, please visit the Charlotte County GIS Mapping Web Site at www.ccgis.com.

Charlotte County’s Flood Warning System

The biggest threat of general flooding is during the hurricane season (June through November). Residents should tune to TV and radio weather broadcasts and be alert to special local advisories. Local radio and TV stations will carry advisories for our area:

Radio

  • WKII (AM 1070)
  • WCCF (AM 1580)
  • WENG (AM 1530)
  • WGCU (FM 90.1)
  • WIKX (FM 92.9)
  • WCVU (FM 104.9)

Television

  • WBBH Channel 20 (Cable Channel 2)
  • WINK Channel 11 (Cable Channel 5)
  • WFTX Channel 36 (Cable Channel 4)
  • WZVN Channel 26 (Cable Channel 7)
  • SNN Channel 6 (Cable)
  • WWSB Channel 40

The Office of Emergency Management (OEM) maintains contact with the National Weather Service and National Hurricane Center and relays updates of threatening weather to government, media, hospitals, and nursing homes. The OEM can override the cable broadcast system to provide the public with information on storms, flood watches, and flood warnings. Law enforcement and fire-rescue officials have the ability to deliver flood warning messages if a storm develops at night with no opportunity for prior warning to the public. Another source of information is the NOAA Weather Radio. Flood watches and warnings will be broadcast on these radios as soon as they are issued by the National Weather Service.

Evacuation routes are identified in the telephone directory. Assistance in evacuation can be arranged for eligible parties by registering with the Office of Emergency Management. Call 833.4000 for information on the Special Needs Program.

Flood Safety

Because of low land elevations and the high water tables over much of our area, flooding is likely to occur in some areas during summer rain showers and thunderstorms. The canal network and drainage ditches will alleviate some flooding affects. However, if there is too much rain for them to handle, flooding will occur throughout the county.

Protective Actions to Take Before, During and After Flooding:

Preparatory Stage:

1. Keep a stock of food that does not need to be cooked.
2. Keep a first aid kit available.
3. Keep your vehicle fueled.
4. Consider purchasing flood insurance for your home and your belongings. For further information contact your insurance agent. Homeowners policies do not cover damage due to rising water.
5. Tune the radio, television, or NOAA weather radio in to get the most current information on the situation.
6. Obey warnings from officials. Evacuate when notice is issued.
7. Know where to evacuate to.
8. Know what supplies to take with you.
9. Shut off electricity and water to your house prior to leaving.
10. Be cautious and avoid flood prone areas when leaving.

During Flood Stage:

1. Stay on higher ground.
2. Do not drive on flooded roads. Even though you may think it is safe to drive, you may strand yourself if your vehicle stalls. DO NOT drive around barricades. Driving through water increases the amount of water pushed into people's homes.
3. If your vehicle stalls, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground. It can be replaced. Your life cannot.
4. Don't attempt to wade across any moving water that is higher than your knees.

After the Flood Stage

1. Do not eat fresh food that has come into contact with flood water.
2. Drink only bottled water.
3. Stay away from disaster areas. You will only hamper rescue and recovery efforts.
4. Do not handle live electrical equipment.
5. Report downed power lines to law enforcement or to the power company.
6. Stay tuned to your portable radio for additional information on the situation.

Flood Insurance

Flooding is not covered by normal home-owners insurance. Flood Insurance is provided through the National Flood Insurance program and can be purchased through most local insurance brokers.

You can protect your home and its contents from flood loss through the National Flood Insurance Program. Contact any licensed property or casualty broker for more information. The Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, and Englewood Public Libraries have a list of local brokers and agents known to be Program participants. Additional information on personal and property flood protection can be found at these locations.

Insurance Availability

Flood Insurance Is Available For Both Buildings And Contents

• Single Family • Residential
• Mobile Homes • Small Business*
• Small Business* • Other Structures

*Check with your insurance agent to see if you qualify.

Flood Insurance Facts

• Flood insurance is available for most enclosed buildings, including contents. This includes homes, condominiums, mobile homes on foundations, businesses, and farms. The contents of a rental unit are also insurable.

• There is a 30-day waiting period from the policy purchase date until coverage begins with a few exceptions. One such exception is that coverage becomes effective immediately at the time of a house title transfer. Also, special rules apply to repair of substantially damaged structures, including those with more than 50% damage, or who have made improvements to their home which exceed 50% of the structural value of the home.

• Flood insurance is necessary to obtain federally secured loans to buy, build, or renovate a structure located in a flood hazard area. This includes federal grants, FHA, and VA loans, as well as most conventional mortgage loans.

  • Flood insurance is limited to $250,000 for the structure and $100,000 contents for residential and $500,000 each for the structure and contents for non-residential properties. Make sure your level of coverage is appropriate for your risk.

Check to See If Your Property is Within A Designated Flood Hazard Area. Do this even if you do not (or did not) require a mortgage loan to purchase your house or business. To protect yourself, purchase flood insurance even if your property is not in a designated flood hazard area.

  • The cost of flood insurance is based on several aspects: where your structure is located, what type of structure it is, what flood zone it is in, when it was constructed and what the elevation of the structure is. The elevation is detailed in an Elevation Certificate that is required for any new or substantially improved or repaired structure constructed after Jan 1 1975. Elevation certificates are available via the Community Development Department or can be viewed and downloaded via our GIS. Follow the instructions here to learn how.

If your home receives flood water damage, whether or not you purchased flood insurance is important. The type and amount of federal disaster assistance available to you can be severely reduced if you are not insured.

Charlotte County works hard to save you money on flood insurance.

As a participating community in the National Flood Insurance program, Charlotte County is also eligible to participate in a companion program called the Community Ratings System.

This program assesses, on a regular basis, how well your community does to minimize the impact of flooding on their community and minimize the potential for loss of life or property.

Communities can earn a premium discount of up to 45% for their policy holders. In Florida, the highest discount is a 25% discount for a Class Five Community – Charlotte County has maintained a 25% discount for our policy holders for many years saving the community $6.4 million every year.

Property Protection Measures

In some locations, contents can be protected through flood proofing measures such as sandbagging. Portable property can also be elevated above anticipated flood levels. You can also take certain actions to retrofit your home to protect it from wind and water damage. All General Contractors registered in Charlotte County are capable of retrofitting your home or business - Contractor. Visit the Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, and Englewood Libraries for more information on this subject.

For more information about retrofitting your property, contact the Charlotte County Building Department on 941.743.1201 to speak with a specially qualified Flood Plain Manager trained in retrofitting techniques.

Further information can also be found at the web site for FEMA’s National Flood Insurance Program or general information about FEMA at the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Under the “Flood Plain Management” heading, there are several resources on how you can protect your property but a very useful one for retrofitting can be found here.

Development in Flood Prone Lands is Restricted – Build Responsibly

Charlotte County and the City of Punta Gorda have special requirements concerning all forms of construction in flood hazard areas. All development within the Special Flood Hazard Area requires a permit which must be obtained prior to starting work. As the County participates in the NFIP, there are minimum certain requirements that must be met. In addition, the County has higher standards that help keep the cost of flood insurance as low as possible for our residents.

For a copy of the County’s Floodplain ordinance

The following is a summary of the regulations in Charlotte County. Please note that the minimum requirements of the NFIP are now part of the Florida Building Code:

    1. All development in the Special Flood hazard Area must have a permit prior to starting work
    2. The structure should be elevated to at or above the Base Flood Elevation – this includes all equipment associated with the structure. Non-residential structures may be flood proofed as an alternative to elevation
    3. Development in areas subject to high waves (shown as V Zones on the FIRM) cannot obstruct the flow of waves so must remain open or be constructed in a way that any obstructions will break away. Charlotte County also restricts the size of the area that may be enclosed below these elevated structures and does not allow subdivision of the area. A Non-Conversion Agreement to prevent prohibited use of the space below an elevated structure is also required at the time of construction.
    4. Site development must be done in such a way to ensure proper drainage of the lot so as not to impact surrounding lots
    5. Charlotte County has regulations impacting the placement of mobile homes in V Zones and limiting the type of foundation that must be used for a manufactured home in a V Zone

Substantial Improvement and Substantial Damage – the 50% rule

The NFIP treats a substantially improved building as a new structure. The NFIP defines “substantial improvement” as any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition or any other improvement of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds 50% of the market value of the structure before the state of construction. The requirement also applies to buildings that are substantially damaged.

In Charlotte County, we have a 5 year cumulative approach to substantial improvement/substantial damage. This means that if the combined cost of improvements ove the past five years equals or exceeds 50% of the market value of the structure before the start of construction, then the building will be considered as substantially improved and be treated as a new structure. For more information about this or any of the floodplain regulations, or to report illegal development in the floodplain, please contact the Charlotte County Community Development Department at the contact details below:

Charlotte County Community Development
18400 Murdock Circle
Port Charlotte, Fl 33948
941.743.1201
Email - bcs@charlottecountyfl.gov

Please note – these regulations apply to unincorporated Charlotte County only – for information about regulations in the City of Punta Gorda, please contact the City Building Dept. at 941.575.3346 or the Zoning Dept. at 575.3324

Drainage Systems Require Maintenance

Charlotte County is interlaced with a system of canals, ditches, and waterways that serve to direct the flow of floodwater. It is most important that these elements of the floodwater drainage system be kept clear of debris and trash that could impede the flow of water in a flooding situation. Dumping of debris and trash in the drainage system or alteration of the channels is prohibited. Violators should be reported to law enforcement or public works officials.

Charlotte County Sheriff’s Office: 941.639.2101
Charlotte County Public Works: 941.575.3600
Punta Gorda Police Department: 941.639.4111
Punta Gorda Public Works: 941.575.5050

Natural and Beneficial Function

In Charlotte County, water drains naturally into Charlotte Harbor and the Gulf of Mexico. We have great natural resources in this area and the County has many parks and open space protected to ensure Charlotte County’s unique eco systems are not harmed. Allowing a floodplain to “do its job” allows for the water to naturally flow into the rivers and the Gulf of Mexico and also filter naturally through the ground into the water table. If this is impeded or disturbed, flooding may occur in areas where runoff water cannot drain properly.

Impeding water flow can also disturb wildlife and environmental interests in streams and estuaries, such as those found in Charlotte Harbor. It is important that citizens and businesses take this into account during development of property and maintenance of drainage systems. In addition, eco torism and encouraging visitors to beautiful Charlotte County is a benefit to the County’s economy as a whole. Allowing our parks and open space to remain natural allows access for visitors and keep Charlotte County a great place to live work and play. Consult with local planning and zoning officials for information on protecting the natural and beneficial functions of the floodplain in Charlotte County.

Terms You Should Know

  • Coastal Flood Watch - An alert to expect wind-forced flooding along low-lying coastal areas is weather patterns develop as forecasted.
  • Coastal Flood Warning - A warning of imminent, wind-forced flooding along coastal areas.
  • Flood Warning - A warning that gives the expected severity of flooding (minor, moderate, or major) and where and when flooding will take place.
  • Hurricane Watch - Notice of potential hurricane conditions; it does not mean that they are imminent.
  • Hurricane Warning - Notice of imminent hurricane conditions. Personal and property protection actions should be taken.
  • Tropical Storm Watch - An announcement that tropical storm conditions pose a potential threat to specific coastal areas.
  • Tropical Storm Warning - A warning of tropical storm conditions with possible sustained winds of 39-73m.p.h. in specific coastal areas within 24 hours.
  • FIRM - Flood Insurance Rate Map
  • 50% Rule - A building in the flood hazard area having damage, for any cause, that exceeds 50% of its market value must meet current flood zone construction codes before construction will be permitted.
  • NFIP - National Flood Insurance Program

Sources for Further Information

The Charlotte County Library System, Mid-County Library maintains flood hazard area maps and references concerning flood protection and preparedness. Call 941.613.3160. Flood maps are also available at the Port Charlotte branch at 2280 Aaron Street; the Punta Gorda Library, 424 W. Henry Street and the Englewood Charlotte Library, 3450 McCall Road.

The Charlotte County Building Department at 18400 Murdock Circle, County Administration Building, Port Charlotte, can advise of the flood hazard pertaining to specific parcels. Examples of available information included:

  1. The date of construction and the flood zone at the time of construction
  2. An elevation certificate for the structure
  3. The current flood zone and any other flood related information including information about the Coastal Barrier Resource Act, the Coastal Construction Control Lines, Floodways, and details of historical flooding at your location.
  4. Information about repetitive loss areas
  5. Whether you are required to purchase flood insurance if you have a federally backed loan

The Charlotte County Building Department will also assist with onsite visits to advise of flood protection steps and can provide information on contractors experienced in flood reconstruction and renovation. For more information, call 941.743.1201.

The City of Punta Gorda Planning and Zoning Department in the City Hall Annex at 326 W. Marion Ave. can provide the same information and services for property in Punta Gorda. Call 941.575.3324.

The Office of Emergency Management at the Public Safety Building, 26571 Airport Road in Punta Gorda (across from the Charlotte County Airport), can address questions concerning community and individual flood preparedness activities. For more information, call 941.833.4000.

View Video: How to Reduce Damage from Repetitive Flood Loss


Charlotte County Flood History

Charlotte County has a history of flooding due to rainfall events a storm surge events. The following is a listing of dates in which Charlotte County residents have submitted flood insurance claims to the National Flood Insurance Program. The dollar figures reflected in the figures below include damage to county infrastructure, along with damages to homes and businesses.

Historical Flood Data

  • June 2003 - Excessive Rainfall
    Between 16” and 20” of rain fell across the county within a 24 hour period. Approximately $4.7 million in damages occurred to public infrastructure. 41 living units were affected with an estimated $50,000 in damage.
  • September 2001 - Tropical Storm Gabrielle
    Direct hit from tropical storm caused widespread flooding along Shoreview Drive and Gulf Blvd. Significant flooding also took place in the City of Punta Gorda. Over 300 homes were affected with minor-moderate levels of flooding. Estimated damages to infrastructure, residences, and businesses are between $4-6 million.
  • September 2000 - Hurricane Gordon
    Passing Hurricane caused flooding in the Manasota Key area along Shoreview Drive and Gulf Blvd. Other areas included the Peace River shoreline area in Punta Gorda. Flood Insurance claims totaled over $132,584.02.
  • September, 1999 - Tropical Storm Harvey (no landfall)
    Passing tropical storm caused flooding in the Manasota Key area along Shoreview Drive and Gulf Blvd. Minor flooding occurred in a few homes. Flood Insurance claims were totaled over $21,592.40.
  • September, 1998 - Hurricane Georges (no landfall)
    Passing hurricanes caused abnormally high surf, causing beach erosion and threatening some homes, putting water in a few on Manasota Key; flood insurance claims of $3558.50.
  • September, 1997 - Excessive Rainfall
    Up to 10" of rain fell in Port Charlotte causing widespread street flooding in Charlotte County; some houses sustained water damage; $15,846.79 in flood insurance claims were paid out.
  • October 8, 1996 - Tropical Storm Josephine (no landfall)
    Some street flooding occurred, Englewood experienced some flooding from high tide; high tide eroded beach and caused one home to fall into the water; $253,631.39 in flood insurance claims were paid out.
  • March 12-13, 1993 - Winter Rain Storm
    Flooding caused by high tides coupled with blowing winds; flood insurance claims of $383,008.69 were paid out.
  • June 23-28, 1992 - Flooding due to 6 days of rain
    23.5" of rain fell in Murdock, 18" fell in Punta Gorda, and 28" fell in Englewood; approx. $1,600,000 in damages was reported.
  • November, 1988 - Tropical Storm Keith
    Approximately 2" of rain fell in Charlotte County; flooding occurred in Punta Gorda and other low-lying areas due to high tides coupled with a minimal storm surge. Flood insurance claims of $224,384.60 were paid out.
  • September 5-8, 1988 - Stalled front with excessive rain
    Homes in Grove City suffered damages from flooding, none of which were uninsured; 11.5" of rain fell in Englewood, with 7.5" in Punta Gorda and 4.5" in Port Charlotte. Flood insurance claims of $1,066.51.
  • August 31, 1985 - Hurricane Elena (not landfalling)
    Storm surge caused flooding of up to 5' in some areas. Flood insurance claims of $161,356.46 were paid out.
  • March, 1983 - Abnormal High Tide
    Flooding occurred in the City of Punta Gorda. Flood insurance claims of $7,967.89 were paid out.
  • June 17-18, 1982 - No-Name Storm
    Several inches of rainfall along with a minimal, but damaging storm surge; approx. 10,965 acres of land flooded with salt water; approximately 1800 acres of land flooded with fresh water rain runoff; damage estimates approx. $1,000,000.
  • June 18, 1972 - Hurricane Agnes (not landfalling)
    5"-7" rainfall in Charlotte County; caused flooding of 3"-6" in parts of County; damages approx. $62,105.

Hurricanes and Tropical Storms are the greatest source of flooding in Charlotte County. Coastal areas of Charlotte County have been exposed to more than 50 hurricanes / tropical storms since 1886. Since October, 1959, 17 of these weather events impacted the county population. Tropical storms in September 2001, October 1996, November 1988, June 1992, and Hurricane Elena in August 1985 were sources of multiple insurance claims for flood damage suffered in Charlotte County.