Hurricane Ian Should Be Lesson To Polk Residents About Flood Dangers

POLK COUNTY, FL — In the wake of Hurricane Ian, photos of flooded roads, including one alarming image of an elderly man being rescue by sheriff’s deputies after his pickup truck became inundated, dominated the news in Polk County.

Parks were closed, roads were in impassable and, in some areas, it was weeks before the water receded.

Polk County commissioners want residents to remember those images and take the possibility of flooding seriously come June 1, the start of the Atlantic hurricane season.

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Only 2 percent of single-family homes in Polk County are covered by federal flood insurance. Flood insurance is a separate policy that can be purchased from FEMA at

“This is hard to comprehend, especially when you consider that just 1 inch of floodwater can cause up to $25,000 in damage and that most homeowners’ insurance does not cover flood damage,” said Paul Womble, director of Polk County’s Emergency Management Division.

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Floods are the No. 1 natural disaster in the United States, he said. According to, there are 42,264 properties in Polk County that have greater than a 26 percent chance of being severely affected by flooding over the next 30 years. This represents 15 percent of all properties in Polk County.

“There’s a tendency to say that it won’t happen to me,” said Womble. “And I can understand that rationale. People think they’re safe because Polk County is in the middle of the state, away from coastal flooding. However, there is no safe place when it comes to flooding. Floods are caused by weather, and weather is unpredictable.”

In addition to obtaining flood insurance, Womble suggests residents take these steps to prepare for floods:

For more information on preparing for disasters, visit Polk County Emergency Management.

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