MyGulfport.us The Official Website of the City of Gulfport

City of Gulfport Hurricane Center

Gulfport Flood and Hurricane Information

If a disaster were to hit today, would you be ready? Could you, your family, and your property survive? Are you prepared? What would you do? Where would you go? These are the basic questions, everyone faces when a flood, hurricane, or any other disaster could strike.

Everyone should start with the basics:

First Steps - 3 Steps to Preparedness

Before the Storm

The first action that everyone should take is to HAVE A PLAN. Be prepare and have a hurricane or disaster kit on hand. Take the necessary steps to prepare yourself, your family, and your home and business in the event that you need to evacuate. Do not wait until a storm approaches; know your zone and make a plan now.

  • Sign up to receive emergency notifications.
  • Know Your Zone and learn your hurricane evacuation level
  • Review Pinellas County’s Hurricane Guide
  • Build your kit.
  • Know Your Risk

 

Special Needs Registry Program

If you need assistance during an evacuation for yourself or a relative/friend, call Gulfport Fire & Rescue at (727) 893-1062. This program can prevent hurricane-related injuries and death of the special needs population of the City of Gulfport.

PET PREPAREDNESS

When preparing your family and home for a storm, it is important you include your pets. If you plan to evacuate, plan for your pet as well. Do not take unnecessary risks during a storm and please DO NOT LEAVE YOUR ANIMALS BEHIND IF YOU EVACUATE.

During a Storm event – Be prepared to evacuate, if necessary. Monitor the appropriate news channels for instructions. Find out how to get alerts from your cell phone when the power is out. Plan on three to seven days of uncertainty, depending on the storm, and be prepared with enough supplies in your storm emergency kit (food, water, medications, and entertainment).

Follow the instructions in the Hurricane guide for what to do and when to act.

The City of Gulfport will provide storm-related information through our communication emails and social media channels.

Important information such as:

  • What Shelters are opening
  • What Evacuation orders are called
  • Information on how to report power outages
  • What City Facilities / Services are closed / cancelled.

Important information, following a storm event, there may be non-working traffic signals in the City. If you encounter an inoperable signal, approach the intersection as a four-way stop.

After the storm passes, use a battery-powered radio to listen for news reports about damage, road closures, power outages, and other emergency instructions.

Continue to follow the City of Gulfport on social media for updates.

Communication is key!

It is important to be registered to receive the City’s storm-related information through our communications emails and social media channels.

On this page, mygulfport.us/hurricane-center, we link you to vital information that will help you before, during, and after the storm.

After the storm, the City will provide additional resources to address debris collection as residents recover from the storm aftermath.

In addition, these important tools to help business owners and residents make decisions are located on the Hurricane Center page.

  • https://pinellas.gov/evacuation-zone/
    • Knowing your evacuation zone is the first step to planning for an emergency. It helps you make decisions about the safety of yourself and your family, and make plans in advance of a storm. Once you know your zone, review other guides that can help you Know Your Risk, Make a Plan, Stay Informed and Get Involved.
  • https://pinellas.gov/make-a-plan/
    • Once you Know Your Risk, you can Make A Plan for how to respond if a hazard is threatening your safety. Your plan should include everyone in your family—adults, children, people with special needs and pets. You can also include your neighbors, friends or extended family in your plan. If you are interested in helping others prepare for and recover from a disaster, visit with Jim Wright, the Volunteer Coordinator, Gulfport CERT team.
  • https://pinellas.gov/stay-informed/
    • In the 2023 Ready-Set-Protect Webinar Series, Pinellas County Emergency Management and affiliated community partners discuss preparation, evacuation zones, emergency shelter options, special needs, and insurance considerations, providing information and resources to assist the community in best preparing for hurricane season.
    • Watch the video located here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGE0pkjolm8
  • https://pinellas.gov/make-a-plan/build-your-emergency-kit/
    • Assembling an emergency kit now can help you make sure you and your family have what you need in an emergency. Keep these items ready to go in case you need them on a moment’s notice.

 

BE STONG, BE RESILIENT, BE SUCCESSFUL

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City of Gulfport - Emergency Notification Services

Alert Pinellas – Emergency and Community Notification Service for Pinellas County and the City of Gulfport, Florida. This system enables the City to provide you with critical information quickly in a variety of delivery methods. It’s easy to sign up for this FREE service. Visit mygulfport.us/alertpinellas for more information.

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Email News Signup –  Receive City of Gulfport emergency announcements electronically in your email inbox. Visit, mygulfport.us/enews or click here (email news signup green button) and follow the prompts to register your email address with the City.

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City of Gulfport, Florida Facebook page at www.facebook.com/mygulfport. Announcements and information are disseminated on social media so followers receive timely and accurate information.

Important Contact Information / City Services

In the case of a fire, police or medical emergency, call 9-1-1.

Important links
  • https://pinellas.gov/evacuation-zone/
    • Knowing your evacuation zone is the first step to planning for an emergency. It helps you make decisions about the safety of yourself and your family, and make plans in advance of a storm. Once you know your zone, review other guides that can help you Know Your Risk, Make a Plan, Stay Informed and Get Involved.
  • https://pinellas.gov/know-your-risk/
  • https://pinellas.gov/make-a-plan/
    • Once you Know Your Risk, you can Make A Plan for how to respond if a hazard is threatening your safety. Your plan should include everyone in your family—adults, children, people with special needs and pets. You can also include your neighbors, friends or extended family in your plan. If you are interested in helping others prepare for and recover from a disaster, visit with Jim Wright, the Volunteer Coordinator, Gulfport CERT team.
  • https://pinellas.gov/stay-informed/
    • In the 2023 Ready-Set-Protect Webinar Series, Pinellas County Emergency Management and affiliated community partners discuss preparation, evacuation zones, emergency shelter options, special needs, and insurance considerations, providing information and resources to assist the community in best preparing for hurricane season.
    • Watch the video located here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pGE0pkjolm8
  • https://pinellas.gov/make-a-plan/build-your-emergency-kit/
    • Assembling an emergency kit now can help you make sure you and your family have what you need in an emergency. To simplify the process, Pinellas County Emergency Management recommends that you keep these items ready to go in case you need them on a moment’s notice.
  • pinellascounty.org/flooding/maps.htm
    • Elevation Certificates (ECs) can be found on the County maps website for specific properties. ECs have vital information for risk regarding elevation and risks of flooding.  Elevation Certificates are required for flood insurance.
  • www.swfwmd.state.fl.us
    • Southwest Florida Water Management District manages water resources for West-Central Florida as directed by State Law.  The goal of the District is to meet the water needs of current and future water users while protecting and preserving the water resources.  Flood protection is provided through structural and nonstructural methods. Water-related natural systems are protected by land purchases that store floodwaters, secure future water supply or serve other water-related functions.  Additional protection includes habitat restoration and establishment of minimum flows and levels for water bodies.
  • https://portal.floridadisaster.org/sites/FDEM_Information/Preparedness/SitePages/Home.aspx
    • Florida Department of Emergency Management administers a statewide emergency management all-hazards preparedness program including emergency management planning, continuity of operations planning, catastrophic planning, grants, natural and man-made hazards, evacuation, and disaster assessment.
  • https://www.weather.gov
    • The National Weather Service (NWS) prepares, provides, and responds to weather, water, and climate-dependent events while providing water and climate data, forecasts, warnings, and impact-based decision support services for the protection of life, property, and economy.
  • https://www.noaa.gov/
    • The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA, mission is to understand and predict changes in climate, weather, ocean, and coasts, to share that knowledge and information with others, and to conserve and manage coastal and marine ecosystems and resources.  This mission provides information about our natural world and help protect its precious resources extending beyond national borders to monitor global weather and climate by working with partners around the world.
    • The NOAA locates and maintains weather buoys. The NOAA Buoy webpage is:  https://ndbc.noaa.gov/.One local buoy is the “Clam Bayou Buoy”, CLBF1.  Its location is 27.736 N, 82.686 W.  For latest buoy information of the most current observation and hourly files, go to:  https://ndbc.noaa.gov/data/latest_obs/latest_obs.txt
  • https://www.floodsmart.gov
    •  National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) offers flood insurance to help protect buildings and contents to reduce the socio-economic impact of floods.  Flood insurance is available to property owners, renters, and businesses to aid in recovery when floodwaters recede.  The NFIP is administered by FEMA through a public-private partnership between the federal government, the insurance industry, states, local officials, lending institutions, and property owners.
  • https://www.fema.gov/business/nfip
    • The mission of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is helping people before, during, and after disasters.  In order to fulfill this mission, FEMA coordinates with public and private sector organizations including the business industry, faith-based organizations, and voluntary organizations for improved disaster preparedness and response.  Resources are available to ensure nationwide resilience and preparedness for all disasters.
Preparedness Planning for Your Business - Hurricane Toolkit

The Ready Business Hurricane Toolkit helps leaders take action to protect employees, protect customers, and help ensure business continuity as well.

Special Needs Registry Program

The Special Needs Registry Program can prevent hurricane-related injuries and death of the special needs population of the City of Gulfport.

What is the Special Needs Registry Program?

The Special Needs Registry Program assists Florida citizens with special needs (mentally or physically challenged individuals) with transportation and sheltering during an evacuation.  It is a state-mandated program created in 1993 (F.S. 252.355). This program is for those who have tried everything possible to accommodate themselves and no options exists.

How the Special Needs Registry Program works

Call Gulfport Fire & Rescue at (727) 893-1062 and ask for the Special Needs Registry Program or click the following link to register, https://pinellas.gov/special-needs/.

If an evacuation order is issued, services will be provided to you.

  • You must be packed and ready to go.
  •  You will be taken to a public shelter (i.e. nursing home, school, or hospital).
  • You must bring something on which to sit/lay down on.
  • You must bring instructions for your care if needed.
  • You must bring a 72-hour supply of any special dietary or medical needs.

If you need information for yourself or a relative/friend, call (727) 893-1062 today. You are encouraged to register before the start of the hurricane season (June 1st).

 

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Evacuation Routes

If you choose to leave the County, know the major evacuation routes. The designated evacuation route to leave Pinellas County for the City of Gulfport is to travel eastward on Gulfport Boulevard South/22 Avenue South to I-275. Head north on I-275, crossing Tampa Bay on the Howard Franklin Bridge, and continue either northward on I-275/I-75 or eastward on I-4 to leave the region. An alternative route is to travel north on 49th Street South to 1st Avenue South. Turn right on 1st Avenue South and travel eastward to 20th Street South. Turn left and drive north to Interstate I-275. Continue either northward on I-275/I-75 or eastward on I-4 to leave the region. The following maps are the evacuation routes for Pinellas County. The first map illustrates the evacuation routes for south Pinellas County. The second map illustrates the regional evacuation routes which can assist in evacuations leaving Pinellas County. The map includes routes through Pasco and Hillsborough Counties.

Emergenct Evaluation Pathways for South Pinellas
Pinellas County Evaluation Routes
Traffic Information
Our Flood Hazard

Floodplain Management

Presently, the City of Gulfport adopts the countywide Local Mitigation Strategy (LMS) Plan for floodplain management planning.  In addition to the flood mitigation, this Plan takes a countywide approach to reducing multiple types of natural and man-made hazards.  Within the LMS, the City has a section that focuses on Gulfport’s floodplain management that investigates specific areas subject to flooding, flood hazards, to assess problems, determine goals to reduce hazards from flooding, develop possible activities to implement, develop an appropriate action plan, and initiate an implementation plan.  Monitoring and evaluating the LMS specific to Gulfport occurs annually.

Through flood mitigation planning, the City has made progress on projects designed to reduce flood damage.  We have investigated the purchase of land that is low-lying and flood prone.  The Public Works Department continues to improve the storm drainage system and maintenance procedures.  The Building Division continues to update and enforce our floodplain and building codes.  The City coordinates with other local government agencies on civil emergencies and flood warning programs, including evacuations.

Hurricane Flooding Picture

You can find a variety of hazard mitigation information on the City’s website: www.mygulfport.us (Scroll down to the lower left-hand side of the homepage and under QUICK LINKS select “City of Gulfport Hurricane Center” or “Pinellas County Flood Map”).  The following nine flood-related topics are provided for information, protection, and action against flooding, and exposure or risk to flooding and flood hazards.  We encourage everyone to read and do what they can to protect themselves and their property.  To view the new FEMA FIRMs, go to the FEMA Map Service Center https://msc.fema.gov.  Also flood zone and evacuation zone information and Elevation Certificates are available from Pinellas County’s Flood Map Service Center, www.pinellascounty.org/flooding/maps.htm.  Flood- related information is available on the City’s website:  www.mygulfport.us .

 

FLOOD HAZARD

The City of Gulfport is located on the shores of Boca Ciega Bay which is a major source of flooding in the City.  The upland areas of Gulfport are characterized by flat terrain that slopes from an elevation of sea level to three feet in various locations along the waterfront to nearly forty feet in the northeast area of the City.  These areas are subject to freshwater flooding from street and yard runoff.  Approximately one-third of the City is located within the 100-year floodplain mapped and adopted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).  The flood hazard map, or Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) included in this newsletter was revised by FEMA on August 24, 2021.  The 100-year floodplain is where properties may experience flooding during 100-year flood events from tropical cyclones and other major storm events.

Despite the significant improvements in Gulfport’s storm drainage systems throughout the city, freshwater flooding problems due to rainfall are still evident in the low-lying sections of town.  Causes contributing to the flooding include stormwater runoff created by an inadequate storm sewer system, and low ground elevations resulting in salt water flooding backing up through the storm sewer system from high tides of Boca Ciega Bay.  Many times, rain will saturate the ground and add to the street, sidewalk and driveway runoff.  The FIRM’s that show local flood hazard areas within the City can be viewed at the City’s Municipal Library or the Community Development Department at the City Hall Complex. Also, the Community Development Department has historic and current Flood Insurance Rate Maps for viewing and for map information purposes.  Flood Insurance Rate Maps are also available on-line at FEMA’s Map Service Center:  https://msc.fema.gov or Pinellas County: www.pinellascounty.org/flooding/maps.htm.

 

FLOOD WARNING SYSTEM

The City of Gulfport participates in a flood warning system designed by the Pinellas County Response Operations Coordinating Group (ROC) and the Pinellas County Emergency Operations Center with the NWS/NOAA.  The City coordinates activities, such as flood and storm warnings, evacuations, evacuation shelters, and recovery operations after the storm, with Pinellas County but through the City for our residents.

The City of Gulfport has its own Emergency Preparedness Plan that goes into effect for a variety of disasters, including flooding.  Residents in flood prone areas will be warned of an actual emergency condition, such as flood warnings, through fire and police mobile units.  When these warnings are sounded, all residents should follow the evacuation orders and the directions of the police and fire units.

Flood watches (when conditions favor flooding) and flood warnings (flood is eminent) will be issued by the National Weather Service (NWS).  Any emergency actions will be determined by the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners upon input from the DAC.  The EOC then issues hazard information to local radio and television stations for emergency broadcasts.  Local television stations with sources of emergency information, along with their internet websites, include:

 

Channel 8 WFLA NBC www.wfla.com
Channel 9 Bay News 9 Independent www.baynews9.com
Channel 10 WTSP CBS www.wtsp.com
Channel 13 WTVT FOX www.wtvt.com
Channel 28 WFTS ABC www.wfts.com

 

Local radio stations include:

AM

WGUL 860      WEOC 940 WFLA 970
WQYK 1010 WHNZ 1250    
FM
WMNF 88.5 WUSF 89.7 WSJT 94.1
WWRM 94.9 WSUN 97.1 WQYK 99.5
WMTX 100.7 WHPT 102.5 WTBT 103.5
WDUV 105.5 WGUL 106.3 WBBY 107.3

 

The City of Gulfport depends upon the National Weather Service (NWS) for flood threat recognition.  The NWS (Ruskin, Florida) issues flood advisories when expected rainfall could overflow drainage systems causing isolation of structures due to ponding of flood waters.  The National Weather Service (NWS) hosts a special FM high-band frequency at 162.450 or 162.550 megahertz with up-to-date information.  The emergency alert system has designated WMTX- FM 100.7 as the primary disaster information channel and WWRM-FM 94.9 as the secondary disaster information channel for this area.  Pinellas County officials have designated WEOC – AM 940 as the primary station for county emergency information.  Weather and storm information is also available on the City’s government access channel, GTV-Channel 640, and on the official website of the City of Gulfport at www.mygulfport.us, which provides links with the Pinellas County Emergency Operations Center (phone (727) 464-3800), the National Weather Service, the National Hurricane Center, and other emergency services.   Additional websites with emergency information are:  www.weather.com ; www.nws.noaa.gov ; and www.fema.gov .

FLOOD SAFETY

  1. Prepare your hurricane kit and have supplies on hand for up to 7 days since assistance will not be available immediately following the storm event.
  2. Know your evacuation zone and flood zone because both zones are not the same. Know the flood warning procedures.  Stay tuned to local radio and television stations for evacuation information.  Evacuate the flood hazard area in times of impending flood or when advised to do so through local news casts, or by the Gulfport police or fire department in your neighborhood broadcasting by loud speaker, to avoid putting rescue workers at risk.
  3. Drowning is the number one cause of flood deaths.  Do not attempt to cross flowing flood waters where the water is above your knees.  Currents can be deceptive; six inches of moving water can knock you off your feet.  Use a pole or stick to determine depth if you walk in standing water.
  4. Keep children away from flood water, ditches, culverts, and storm drains.  Currents can be very strong and flood waters can contain contaminants hazardous to humans.
  5. Turn around, don’t drown!  Do not drive through flooded areas, especially if you do not know how deep the water is.  If your vehicle stalls in high water, abandon it immediately and seek high ground.  Vehicles can and will float.  Currents can whisk vehicles away.  Eventually, a floating vehicle will come to rest and sink.  Abandon the car immediately before it sinks and seek high ground.
  6. Use caution walking inside a flooded structure.  During and after a flood, the ground and floors are covered with debris such as broken glass or nails.  Mud, silt or sand can be very slippery.  Animals like rodents, insects and snakes may have been flooded out of their homes and may seek shelter in yours.  Use a pole or stick to poke or overturn things to scare away small animals.
  7. Turn off utility services at the main switches or valves.  Cut off all electrical circuits at the fuse panel or disconnect switch.  If this is not possible, turn off or disconnect all electrical appliances.  Shut off the water service and gas valves in your home.  Use a flashlight to inspect damage.  Do not smoke or use matches, flames, lanterns, or candles unless you know the gas has been shut off and the area has been well ventilated.

 

FLOOD INSURANCE

Standard homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover losses to your home or contents due to floods.  Gulfport, however, is a participant in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which makes all of its property owners regardless of location in the City (including properties that have been flooded), business owners, and renters eligible to obtain federally backed flood insurance.  Separate flood insurance covering the building and contents is available to any owner of insurable property (a building and its contents) within the City through their home insurance agent.  Tenants may also insure their personal property against flood loss through an insurance agent.  For further information, see www.FloodSmart.gov .

Actual costs will vary depending upon the type of construction, amount of coverage, and degree of flood hazard or risk.  We urge persons who live in or own property in flood hazard areas to purchase flood insurance to protect themselves from losses due to flooding.  This insurance is required in most instances, such as the purchase of a home with a federally backed mortgage.  Lenders who issue federally backed mortgages are required to determine if a structure is within the 100-year floodplain.

Don’t wait for a disaster to happen!  Please don’t delay if you are considering flood insurance.  Flood policies have a 30 day wait period before they are effective.  If you have or are considering flood insurance, check out the amount of coverage and make sure you have structure and contents coverage to ensure the best coverage for your situation.  Flooding, which has occurred in Gulfport, can include damages to the structure and to the contents within the structure (which may be more than the structure) as well.  Flood insurance covers all surface water floods, as opposed to broken pipes inside of a house.

Hurricane Flooding Picture

PROPERTY PROTECTION MEASURES

Several different methods are available to protect a building from flood damage.  Electrical panel boxes, furnaces, water heaters, washers/dryers, and furniture should be elevated or relocated to a location less likely to be flooded.  If a flood is coming, you should shut off the gas and electricity and move valuable contents to a higher location.

Depending upon your house construction or your ability to modify your house, flood drains may be installed, backflow preventers for water lines may be installed, interior flood walls can be placed around utilities, and plugs or standpipes can be installed to prevent sewer back ups.  Deeper sewer back up problems can be solved with overhead sewers, gate valves, or backup valves.

Other approaches involve making your walls waterproof and placing watertight closures over doorways.  Also, you can keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting, and lumber for emergency waterproofing.  Another action to help minimize the amount of damage caused by flood water is to regrade your lot or build a small flood wall or earthen berm.  Shuttering your windows and installing reinforced exterior doors and garage doors will protect your home against high winds.

Many of these approaches are called floodproofing or retrofitting.  More information is available at the Gulfport Municipal Library.  The City’s Building Division can provide technical assistance as well as make on-site visits to discuss specific flooding issues and possible solutions.  Financial assistance for flood protection or mitigation may be available from federal agencies in the form of loans, grants, or as part of your flood insurance policy.

FLOODPLAIN DEVELOPMENT PERMIT REQUIREMENTS

All structures under construction within the City of Gulfport require building permits.  Further, the City has adopted as part of its zoning ordinances, regulations on development, construction and reconstruction in floodplains.  The purpose of such regulations is to control the alteration of natural runoffs and storm runoff channels; prevent or regulate construction of flood barriers which divert flood waters or which may increase flood hazards in other areas; restrict or prohibit uses resulting in increased damage by erosion, flood velocities or flood heights; and to control filling, grading or other development that may increase flood damages.

All new construction and substantial improvements of existing structures must follow regulations specific to flood zone construction.  Structures are permitted within flood zones provided they exceed the base flood level elevation of the flood zone as identified on the FIRM.  Elevation Certificates are required for construction within the 100-year flood zone as indicated by the Special Flood Hazard Areas on the FIRM’s.  Contact the Gulfport Building Division for information regarding Elevation Certificates.  Existing Elevation Certificates for homes can be viewed at the Pinellas County Flood Map Service Center Homepage:  www.pinellascounty.org/flooding/maps.htm.

If any work is to be performed, especially in the designated flood hazard areas, please contact the Building Division.  Report any illegal floodplain development to the Building Division.  Reporting and contacting the Building Division at 5330-23rd Avenue South, (727) 893-1024, prior to performing work is necessary as the regulations are extensive, and permits are required for construction or improvements in the flood zones.

If you have flooding problems, you can request a site visit related to drainage, site improvements, flood mitigation, and retrofitting techniques.  City staff has qualified personnel in the Building Division of the Community Development Department to assist homeowners with site visits or plans review.

SUBSTANTIAL IMPROVEMENT REQUIREMENT

A substantial improvement to a structure is any rehabilitation, addition or other improvement of a building where the cost of the improvement equals or exceeds 50% of the market value of the building before the start of the construction.  Substantial improvements must meet the same construction requirements as a new building including lowest living floor elevation requirements.  Substantially damaged structures must be brought up to the same standards as new construction.  Substantial improvements, however, do not include improvements to a building to correct existing health or sanitary code violations as identified by the City to ensure safe living conditions.

As a participant in the National Flood Insurance Program, the City of Gulfport enforces the substantial improvement requirement.  The City’s Building Division can inform and answer questions about the requirement and all local procedures for enforcing it.  City personnel can review and discuss your building plans as they relate to flood zones, flood mitigation, building requirements, and zoning requirements.  Additionally, the City’s Building Division can make on-site visits to discuss specific flooding issues and possible solutions.

DRAINAGE SYSTEM MAINTENANCE

The City of Gulfport has a storm drainage system consisting of both open and closed segments.  The open sections are drainage swales, ponds and small lakes.  The closed sections are comprised of storm water inlets and piping which carry water from streets to drainage features or areas that collect runoff and eventually outfall to Boca Ciega Bay.

Maintenance of these systems is very important.  Debris in the swales, catch basins and pipes obstructs the flow of water causing overflow into roads and yards.  This partial or complete filling in of these storm sewer systems reduces the flood flow capacity that contributes to the flooding of streets and yards.  Maintenance of these systems is important to maintain a high flood flow capacity.  To achieve this, the City’s Public Works Department has formalized its storm sewer system maintenance procedures.  City personnel clear and perform other maintenance work on the system at least two times per year.  Some locations are maintained four times per year.  Work is also performed on an emergency basis in problematic areas as needed.

In addition to City performed maintenance, residents can help perform routine maintenance on ditches located on right-of-ways along the sides or the rear of their properties such as removal of high weeds, litter, debris or other items considered a nuisance.  Also, properties shall be maintained so that water cannot become stagnant which would create breeding areas for mosquitoes.

Several of the City’s efforts depend upon your cooperation and assistance.  You can help by:

  1. Always check with the Building Division before you build on, alter, regrade, or fill your property. Permits are needed to ensure projects do not cause problems, such as flooding, on other properties.
  2. Do not dump or throw anything into the ditches or ponds. Dumping in our ditches and ponds is a code violation.  Even grass clippings and branches can accumulate and plug channels, inlets and storm sewer pipes.  A plugged channel cannot carry water and when it rains the water has to go somewhere.  Every piece of trash can contribute to flooding.
  3. If your property is next to a ditch or pond, please do your part and keep the banks clear of brush and debris.
  4. If you see building or filling without a City permit sign posted, contact the Building Division at (727) 893-1024.
  5. Report illegal dumping by contacting Code Enforcement at (727) 893-1061.
  6. If you see a storm sewer catch basin that is slow to drain or does not drain runoff, or debris in ditches or ponds, contact the Public Works Department at (727) 893-1089.

 

Hurricane Flooding Picture

NATURAL AND BENEFICIAL FUNCTIONS OF THE GULFPORT FLOODPLAIN

Gulfport’s floodplain plays an important role during those times when the lowland areas are covered by water during a flood.  The City’s floodplain carries and stores flood waters, and its capacity to do that protects human life and property from flood damage.  The Gulfport floodplain contains natural and developed areas that have benefits for all of us, including:

  1. Habitat for Plants and Animals. Mangroves, trees and other vegetative growth found along the natural shoreline within Clam Bayou and the Pasadena Yacht and Country Club provide important resting, feeding and nesting areas for many waterfowl species.  These areas have a natural biological diversity and are productive for birds, fish and other wildlife.  The mangroves provide an ecosystem that captures nutrients and plant debris and serve as prime nurseries for fish, shrimp, crabs and waterfowl.  As an added bonus, the roots protect the shorelines from wind and wave erosion.
  2. Water Quality. Vegetation and soils found within our City’s floodplain serve as water filters, intercepting surface water runoff before reaching Boca Ciega Bay.  This process aids in the removal of excess nutrients, pollutants and sediments from the water.  In turn, the need for costly clean up from pollutants and sediment removal is reduced.  Within the developed areas of the floodplain, stormwater management is provided by pipes and swales leading to detention/retention ponds that result in improved water quality entering Boca Ciega Bay.  The lake at Wood Ibis Park, and the retention ponds at the Municipal Marina and in the Tangerine Greenway are excellent examples of projects that improve water quality.
  1. Retention and Creation of Greenspace. The City of Gulfport has preserved and created some exciting, unique, and beautiful greenspaces within its floodplain.  Clam Bayou, Clam Bayou Nature Park, Gulfport Veteran’s Memorial Park, the Municipal Beach, and Wood Ibis Park are all examples of green spaces in floodplain areas that serve multiple uses and purposes.  Flood hazard retention, wetland protection, fish and wildlife habitat improvement, outdoor education, and recreational opportunities are some of the benefits of these greenspace parks.

The City encourages all of its residents to visit these parks.  Note the values and benefits provided in addition to enjoying the beautiful aesthetics of Boca Ciega Bay and the parks themselves.

HISTORICAL GULFPORT FLOODING

Historically, the last major hurricane (Category 3 or greater) to make landfall in the Tampa Bay area occurred in October 25-26, 1921.  The sixth hurricane of that year began in the western Caribbean, moved through the straits between Mexico and Cuba, and entered the Gulf of Mexico.  As the hurricane traveled north, it curved to the east, making landfall in the area of north Pinellas County/south Pasco County as a Category 3 hurricane.  Locally, the hurricane generated winds of upwards of 120 mph.  The hurricane exited the State of Florida in the vicinity of New Smyrna Beach.

Hurricane Track

In 1921, Gulfport, like most of Pinellas County, was sparsely populated.  Therefore, property damages and losses of life were relatively low compared to if a hurricane were to impact today’s development patterns.  Gulfport residents who lived through this intense hurricane reported the exceptional high storm surge flooding most of Gulfport from the shores of Boca Ciega Bay to what is now Gulfport Boulevard.  As the hurricane passed, the winds shifted and blew the water out of Tampa Bay and Boca Ciega Bay leaving much of the bottom of both Bays exposed, allowing people to walk between St Petersburg and Tampa.

The historical photographs that you have seen throughout this newsletter were taken during Hurricane Elena, August 30 – September 4, 1985.  Hurricane Elena threatened Florida’s west coast on Labor Day weekend as Elena’s path came to approximately 80 miles to the northwest of the Tampa Bay area.  Locally, Elena had 40 to 50 mph sustained winds that caused tides six and seven feet above normal.  The high tides and heavy wave action caused moderate to severe beach erosion, flooding, and damage to seawalls along the beach areas from Sarasota northward to Clearwater Beach.  Evacuation orders were given in Pinellas County that included parts of Gulfport.  The Gulfport Fire Department, in a coordinated effort, assisted 112 evacuees and answered 63 citizen calls.  Rainfall amount recorded in Gulfport totaled 5.35 inches.  Finally, the hurricane made a loop off Cedar Key and then headed northwest making landfall near Biloxi, Mississippi.

In more recent times, three storm events have affected the City of Gulfport.  Each created flooding situations within the City.  March 13, 1993 saw the “No Name Storm” which was referred to as the “Storm of the Century” by the media.  Two inches of rain and a strong tidal surge of nearly 5.5 feet above mean sea level caused heavy damage, erosion, and significant coastal flooding.  Major wind damage was caused by sustained winds of over 40 miles per hour and gusts over 80 mph.  The high winds caused long term power outages.

During October 6-8, 1996, Tropical Storm Josephine impacted this area.  Rainfall combined with high tides up to 6.3 feet above normal caused flooding within the city’s floodplain.  The City of Gulfport recorded over three inches of rain from this storm.

Most recently, Hurricane Irma (2017) affected the Tampa Bay area by creating Category 1 Hurricane winds, extreme high tides and very heavy rainfall amounts.  As a result, many trees and large branches were downed, some of which knocked down power lines.  In all, 17 transformers were destroyed, knocking out power for about a week for about 85% of Gulfport, including City Hall.  Many areas within Gulfport experienced flooding including properties along Boca Ciega Bay, in low lying areas near the waterfront, and in areas where storm sewers back up from storm surge and rainfall runoff causing flooded streets and yards.

Although not directly impacted from a major hurricane since 1921, Gulfport has been affected by passing tropical storms and hurricanes such as Tropical Storm Eta (2000), Hurricane Elsa (2021) and Hurricanes Ian and Nicole (2022).  With these storms, Gulfport has experienced high tides and limited storm surges, heavy rains, and some high winds.  Destructive impacts from the passing storms have caused some damages, but not to the extent of what could be flooded and destroyed from a major hurricane.  Gulfport and the Tampa Bay area have been very lucky by not experiencing a major hurricane since 1921.  However, this does not mean that our luck will continue.  It’s not a matter of If we’ll get hit with a major hurricane, but a matter of When.  Therefore, it’s everyone’s responsibility to be prepared every hurricane season.  So what can you do to prepare?

Storm Surge Model

Many options are available for all residents to help minimize damages from hurricanes and to prevent flooding and flood damage.   You can start by reading and keeping this newsletter.  Create and keep a hurricane kit.  Know your flood zone and hurricane evacuation zone.  Have an Action Plan and determine if you are going to evacuate and where you’ll evacuate to.  Depending upon your location and condition of your house, you can be a Host Home or evacuate to one, evacuate somewhere safe within the county, or leave the area.  A public shelter should be the place of last resort to evacuate to.

Visit our Municipal Library located at 5501 – 28th Avenue South for hurricane and flood related information that is available for your review.  FEMA’s Flood Insurance Rate Maps are available for review at the Library or at the Community Development Department.  The City’s Building Division can determine if you live in, or own property in a flood hazard zone.  City staff can also discuss or make site visits to discuss specific floodproofing options and review flood protection measures.  Additionally, the Building Division has Elevation Certificates on file and can discuss Elevation Certificates if you should have any questions.  If you have any questions on flood zones, or any other information provided in this newsletter, please contact the Community Development Department at 893-1000.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­Hurricane Flooding Picture

Picture of Shore Blvd.

The historic flooding photographs used in this publication were taken during Hurricane Elena, 1985

Shore Blvd. Flooding

Shore Blvd. Flooding

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Additional Storm Resources

General Resource Links

Many sources of information exist that can be tapped into to answer these questions. Some of the best sites include:

  • fema.gov – the Federal Emergency Management Agency, or FEMA, for preparation, planning, communication plans, emergency or hurricane kits, mitigation, and flood insurance.
  • floridadisaster.org – the Florida Division of Emergency Management for family, home and business disaster mitigation preparation.
  • nhc.noaa.gov – the National Hurricane Center for tropical weather information.
  • noaa.gov – the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for national and local weather alerts.
  • floodsmart.gov – for information regarding flood insurance.
  • pinellascounty.org – for evacuation level maps.
  • ready.gov – for information regarding hurricane preparations.
  • flash.org – the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes for information regarding strengthening homes and safeguarding families.

 

For Further Flood and Hurricane Information

Pinellas County Resources

Pinellas County Emergency Management (727) 464-3800

Residents are encouraged to call (727) 464-4333 for information throughout a storm threat.

City of Gulfport

Watch GTV640, the City’s government cable access channel 640. (Spectrum Cable Only) 

The Citizen Call Center is only activated during a storm threat. (727) 893-1000.

Forecast and Weather Information

National Hurricane Center

Central Florida Hurricane Center

NWS Tampa Bay Area Radar

Local Tide Chart

Buoy reports from NOAA

FOX 13 Tropical Weather

Bay News 9 Tropical Weather

Tampa Bay 10 Tropical Weather

Local television stations within the Tampa Bay area that broadcast the emergency information, along with their internet websites, include:

Channel 8WFLANBCwww.wfla.com
Channel 9BayNews9Independentwww.baynews9.com
Channel 10WTSPCBSwww.wtsp.com
Channel 13WTVTFOXhttps://www.fox13news.com/
Channel 28WFTSABCwww.wfts.com

 

 

Picture of Gulfport EOC