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Tampa Listed as 5th Most Overdue City for a Hurricane

Ninety years ago, the Tampa Bay metro area had a population of less than 150,000. Today approximately three million people live in the area, roughly 20 times more than in 1921. That is an historical year for Tampa, when on Oct. 25 a hurricane made landfall near Tarpon Springs, Fla., with an estimated Category 2 strength, producing storm surge of up to about 10 feet in Tampa Bay and causing extensive damage. What if a hurricane on a similar track struck now, and what if it was even stronger?

Storm surge in some areas of Hillsborough County, home to the city of Tampa, could be as high as 15 to 20 feet or more above the ground in a major hurricane, and the ocean could penetrate up to three miles inland, especially near rivers or canals. Even though it’s been a very long time since the last direct hit from a major hurricane, local emergency managers urge residents to write out a hurricane evacuation plan now.

Tampa was extremely fortunate during the 2004 and 2005 hurricane seasons to not receive a direct hit on its coastline, when hurricanes such as Charley, Ivan and Wilma struck other portions of the Gulf Coast of Florida. These storms were wake-up calls for Tampa that it is not immune.

The Tampa Bay area has a lot to lose from storm surge — nearly $29 billion in home damage alone, according to CoreLogic. The research firm analyzed flood data and property records in cities and states along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts to tally up what was at stake. The findings say more than $700 billion worth of homes, including $188 billion in Florida, are at risk.

New FEMA base flood elevations are setting new heights and standards for new construction up and down the gulf coast and especially in the Tampa Bay area.

FEMA has established guidelines on damaged and flooded homes that lie in the 100 year flood plain. If the cost to repair or reconstruction is 50% or more of the actual market value the structure it must be raised above the corresponding base flood elevation for that parcel and will be considered NEW CONSTRUCTION

FEMA has recently released a fact sheet with important information regarding building your home in an area prone to flooding.

SandCastle Coastal Homes specializes in building eco-friendly elevated beachfront and waterfront coastal homes in Florida – each custom built to your exacting specifications.


Build It High and Stay Dry!

Along the central Gulf Coast, storm surge is often the greatest threat to property from a hurricane. In the past, largeproperty losses have resulted from the rise of the ocean associated with many of the major hurricanes that have made landfall. Hurricane Katrina (2005) is a prime example of the damage and devastation that can be caused by surge.

Storm surge is an abnormal rise of water generated by a storm, over and above the predicted astronomical tides. Storm surge should not be confused with storm tide, which is defined as the water level rise due to the combination of storm surge and the astronomical tide. This rise in water level can cause extreme flooding in coastal areas particularly when storm surge coincides with normal high tide, resulting in storm tides reaching up to 20 feet or more in some cases.

The maximum potential storm surge for a particular location depends on a number of different factors. Storm surge is a very complex phenomenon because it is sensitive to the slightest changes in storm intensity, forward speed, size (radius of maximum winds-RMW), angle of approach to the coast, central pressure (minimal contribution in comparison to the wind), and the shape and characteristics of coastal features such as bays and estuaries.

Other factors which can impact storm surge are the width and slope of the continental shelf. A shallow slope will potentially produce a greater storm surge than a steep shelf. For example, a Category 4 storm hitting the central Florida coastline, which has a very wide and shallow continental shelf, may produce a 20-foot storm surge, while the same hurricane in a place like Miami Beach, Florida, where the continental shelf drops off very quickly, might see an 8 or 9- foot surge.

Adding to the destructive power of surge, battering waves may increase damage to buildings directly along the coast. Water weighs approximately 1,700 pounds per cubic yard; extended pounding by frequent waves can demolish any structure not specifically designed to withstand such forces. The two elements work together to increase the impact on land because the surge makes it possible for waves to extend inland.

Additionally, currents created by tides combine with the waves to severely erode beaches and coastal highways. Buildings that survive hurricane winds can be damaged if their foundations are undermined and weakened by erosion.

Every waterfront home is different and must be designed with all factors considered like the placement of the foundation and how it is designed below the ground surface, the elevation of the first living floor, wind codes that meet or exceed the state and local codes as well components that are made to resist the harsh corrosive effects of the sun, salt and sea.

Sandcastle Coastal Homes specializes in waterfront home design for storm surge prone areas on the Florida Gulf Coast. Knowing what the rules are and applying many years of experience to a custom project are the keys to designing a home that will stand up to extraordinary weather events like hurricane winds and storm surge.