What to Do in the Event of a Flood in Tampa

Flooding is a significant risk in the Tampa Bay area. With an elevation of just 48 feet, the City of Tampa is highly susceptible to floods due to storms and sea level rise. When hurricanes and tropical storms pass through, they can also cause flooding due to rainwater runoff. If you get caught in a flood in Tampa, it is crucial to know what to do to protect yourself and your property.

Prepare for Flooding in Advance

The best way to mitigate the damage caused by a flood is to prepare ahead of time. If you live in a flood zone, take the following steps in advance of any type of flood warning:

  • Implement floodproofing measures when building or reinforcing your home.
  • Know how to shut off your electricity and gas lines.
  • Create a list of emergency numbers and shelter locations in the event of a flood.
  • Keep a household inventory list of items in your home, with photos.
  • Keep all of your important documents, such as passports and birth certificates, in a waterproof bag in a safe place.
  • Prepare an emergency kit with first aid and other supplies.
  • Develop a flood emergency plan using online tools available from the Florida Division of Emergency Management.

The more prepared you are for a potential flood in Tampa, the more effectively you will be able to protect yourself in the event of a disaster.

Stay Informed

A flash flood can occur without notice, but many floods in Tampa can be predicted ahead of time. Stay informed about the current flood risk in your zone by listening to the radio or watching the news. Monitor your local stream gauge conditions for signs of potential flooding. The National Weather Service and Hillsborough County Emergency Operations Center both give real-time flood warnings in the Tampa area on most radio and television stations. You can also sign up for emergency alerts.

Know Your Evacuation Location

Certain locations are marked as flood shelters in Tampa Bay. Know your evacuation location by checking the Hillsborough County map or calling 211 to obtain shelter locations and up-to-date disaster information. Make sure you choose an evacuation shelter near you that is pet friendly if you need to evacuate with your pets. If you need emergency transportation to evacuate a flood zone, find a HART route for a free bus service that transports people to shelters.

Evacuate Safely

If a flood evacuation order is given, obey immediately. Get to your evacuation shelter safely by avoiding driving through flooded areas or wading through floodwaters. Stay away from electrical lines. If it is too late to safely get to your shelter location, get to higher ground and stay there. Use emergency flares or lights, if you have them, to signal for emergency officials to help you evacuate.

File a Flood Insurance Claim

Once it is safe to return to your home, focus on cleaning up and recovering. Take pictures of all flood damage for insurance purposes before cleaning anything up. Most homeowners insurance policies in Florida do not cover flood damage. Under the National Flood Insurance Program, however, residents of Tampa are able to purchase separate flood insurance policies to protect their properties from damage caused by flooding. This can include water damage, mold, structural damage, landscape and crop damage, wood rot, electrical damage, and sewer backups.

If you have flood insurance, file a claim with your insurance provider as soon as possible after a flood in Tampa. Report all of your losses and provide proof in the form of photographs and property assessments. Keep samples of any flood-damaged items to show your insurance claims adjuster. If you struggle to collect fair financial compensation from your insurance company, contact a Tampa flood insurance claim lawyer for assistance. An attorney can help you recover from a flood and pursue the monetary benefits that you deserve.