ORLANDO, Fla. – Powerful hurricanes can bring a lot of rain in a short amount of time to Central Florida and can cause devastating flooding to certain areas.
During Hurricane Irma in 2017, officials said nine inches of rain fell in a period of 28 hours in the Orlo Vista area near Orlando. High flood waters forced 55 people to evacuate their homes.
Orange County officials have said since then that they're trying to prevent future flooding in the area. It was awarded a FEMA grant to dig 40 acres of retention ponds deeper.
Mike Drozeck, who works with the county’s Storm Water Management Division, initially said he hoped construction will be complete by 2022. The project will cost $10 million.
"This project will definitely protect them much better than what's currently out there," Drozeck said.
The county is also working with FEMA to change the flood zone in Orlo Vista, which would require homeowners with federally backed mortgages to get flood insurance. The county said it would send out notices to residents before FEMA officially makes the change.
In the meantime, homeowners can take other measures to protect their homes and belongings from flooding during hurricanes or other major storms.
1. Check to see if you live in a flood zone or an area prone to flooding
You can find out if you live in a flood zone by looking up your address on FEMA’s flood map. You can find your official flood map, access other flood hazard products and check out tools for a better understanding of flood risk.
FEMA continually updates the map, so you're encouraged to check it regularly.
2. Purchase flood insurance
According to FEMA, it typically takes up to 30 days for a policy to go into effect, so keep that in mind as you prepare for hurricane season. Homeowners insurance policies do not cover flooding. You can get flood coverage under the National Flood Insurance Program.
Homeowners and renters can purchase flood insurance. Even if you live in a low-risk flood zone and flood insurance isn't federally required, you can still purchase flood insurance.
3. Prepare before the storm hits
Download the News 6 Pinpoint Hurricane app for the latest on hurricanes and other tropical developments in the area.
FEMA encourages homeowners to protect their property by moving valuables to higher levels and decluttering drains and gutters. The agency also suggests installing check valves in sewer lines to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home. Homeowners can also use sandbags to help prevent flooding inside their home.
4. Store supplies so you can grab them quickly if you need to evacuate
FEMA suggests storing emergency supplies in a "go bag" so you can grab it quickly before leaving. The agency said you should keep in mind people's needs, including medications. Keep important documents in a waterproof container and create password-protected digital copies.
5. Evacuate if necessary
If authorities are advising you evacuate your home, do so immediately. If floodwater is present on roads, bridges or the ground, don't cross it. Avoid moving water as it has tremendous power.
If you’re trapped, call 911 and give your location to first responders. If you’re in a building, go to the highest level. Only go onto your roof if necessary and signal for help. If your vehicle is trapped in fast-moving water, stay in the car. If water is rising in the car, get on the roof. If you’re outside, move to higher ground.
Only return to your home when authorities say it is safe.
For more hurricane-preparedness tips, head to ClickOrlando.com/Hurricane.