Community Conversation Engages Citizens

Citizens across Pinellas County joined the Board of County Commissioners for its 8th Annual Community Conversation Thursday evening to discuss important updates and topics in person, via telephone and online.

More than 60 citizens attended in person at the St. Petersburg College – Seminole Campus, joining several thousand more who participated by blog or telephone, viewed the event on the county’s website or local television, or engaged through social media channels.

More than 19,000 listened or joined in via telephone, and 550 people viewed the meeting through Facebook Live streaming video.   Citizens had the opportunity to ask their commissioners questions through a blog and social media, as well as in person at St. Petersburg College’s University Partnership Center Digitorium.

Citizens joined Pinellas County Commissioners as well as County Administrator Mark S. Woodard. The conversation was moderated by Al Ruechel of Bay News 9.

Listening to citizens’ input helps guide decisions that the County makes to provide first class services to the community.

For more information about Community Conversation, including links to resources about the county’s strategic plan and the citizen survey, visit www.pinellascounty.org/CommunityConversation or call (727) 464-3000.

Staycation Ideas!

It’s Official.

According to national trends, Tampa Bay is among the top TEN spots to staycation in the U.S. But you knew that. Who would leave these sugary sand beaches, warm inviting Gulf waters and delicious spots to drink and eat this time of year? After all, when the snowbirds go home (and yes, we miss you), we have Paradise all to ourselves.

In this issue, travel with us as share the best places to go boating, hiking or kayaking parks and preserves and more, from cool coffeehousesto sweet frozen licks. We’ll even help you plan a stay at the Tradewinds’ Island Grand or Guy Harvey Outpost, where the family-friendly beaches, waterslide, aquarium, delectable dining, awesome entertainment and seaworthy activities beckon—really two resorts for the price of one stay!

I SCREAM, YOU SCREAM

Nothing cools you off on a hot summer day than a frozen delight. From gelato to sorbet, homemade ice cream to traditional custard favorite Rita’s, there’s a flavor for everyone, even the vanilla lovers. At the beaches, check out Larry’s Ice Cream, Super Scoops, Mikki’s Mr. Ice Cream, Beach SnoBalls and The Candy Kitchen.

If you’re downtown, The Hippo gourmet Popsicles come in every flavor while Paciugo Gelato Café’s coconut, espresso and caramel gelatos make you swoon with delight. Urban Creamery’s +peanut butter crunch is for Reese’s Pieces lovers.

WATER ADVENTURES

You can swim or skim board at the beach, kayak or paddleboard with rentals from the local surf ships, take a surf lesson or snorkel. St. Pete Beach Community Center’s pool and Walter Fuller are always inviting, with lots of activities for

tykes of all ages, even water aerobics for adults. Treasure Island Yacht Club, Pasadena Yacht Club and Isla del Sol also offer limited summer memberships for families to use.

But nothing says summer fun more than a water park with Busch Gardens’ Adventure Island, being the most rip-roaring spot in Tampa Bay. High speed slides, corkscrews, a giant wave pool, waterfalls and a rambling river with sandy beaches makes it a tropical paradise.

Closer to home, Splash Harbour Water Park adjacent to the Holiday Inn Indian Rocks Beach is all the rage. Attractions include Smuggler’s Run tube ride down a 42 foot tall slide with twists, turns and an exciting bowl feature.

Pirate’s Plunge is a single rider body slide that ends in riders plunging in to the cool blue water. Great White Lazy River is a 600 foot long relaxing lazy river featureing waterfalls, sprays, and mists to keep you cool while you’re soaking up the Florida sun. There’s a Treasure Cove Splash Zone featuring three slides, interactive water activities, and a dumping bucket that will keep kids coming back for more. Kids can mine for treasure, play in the pool and adults can enjoy a nice rum boat drink at the Cruzan Shack while kids nibble some lunch.

If you love sea critters and aquariums, Guy Harvey’s Rumfish Grill offers a cinema-tastic view of fish while you dine.

Want interactive? Check out Clearwater Marine Aquarium and a behind-the-scenes tour of Dolphin Tale. www.seewinter.com

At the Sarasota’s Mote Aquarium, you can get up close and personal with sharks, manatees, sea turtles, sting rays and sea horses. www.mote.org

In addition to Ft. DeSoto and Weedon Island, kayaking Caladesi Island State Park’s paddling trail is an Old Florida voyage through mangroves and wild birds. Ditto Honeymoon Island for great bird-watching along the 2.5 mile Osprey Trail where you can also bike or hike. Lots of snorkel and scuba activity in Tampa Bay, but some of the best is just a kiss away. Tampa Bay Aviation offers scuba charters for quick access to Key West & the Bahamas. charters@tampabayaviation.com

GAME & FUN ZONES

Without even leaving St. Pete Beach, there’s the Beach Escape Game. Small groups of friends, family members, and coworkers find themselves locked in a room with

60 minutes on the clock. In that time, they must work together to crack codes and solve themed puzzles to find the way out. In the Honky Tonk, for example, you’re trapped inside a roadside bar, while Lost Treasure puts the group on an ill-fated ship sailing toward riches. The rooms are designed to immerse players in these scenarios, but there’s always a panic button if you need to call it quits before time runs out.

In Tyrone Mall, PlayLive Nation is a social gaming lounge featuring the newest games for play and is a hot new place for parties and tournaments.

Why not cool off with a movie or crafts? Cobb Theatres at Tyrone Mall, Regal Theaters in Pinellas Park, Carlyse at Sundial, have video arcades for siblings to battle before this summer’s minions.

Creative Clay’s Summer Camp promises hands-on fun for budding artists.

Legoland is a quirky Scandinavian toy come alive in a million themed adventures. Just 45 minutes from downtown Tampa, this kooky theme park serves up an Imagination Zone, Lego Technic, Pirates Cove, Mini-Land, Driving and Boating School, Cypress Gardens and Leto Kingdom, and yes, Batman!

Perhaps the craziest fun zone of all is Tree Hoppers Aerial Adventure Park with eight courses over 100 elements and Florida’s largestzipline adventure park located in Dade City. www.treehoppers.com

Finally, for those of us raising booklovers, perhaps the ultimate imagination zone is the local libraries and Barnes & Noble bookstores where kids can enjoy having a book come alive as its read to them and dozens of other activities. http://www.splibraries.org.

IF YOU COULD TALK TO THE ANIMALS

Lowery Park Zoo, in Tampa was Named the #1 Zoo in the U.S. for kids by Parents Magazine. You can spend the day visiting 1,300 animals on 56 lush acres. You can feed a giraffe, hold a lorikeet, pet a stingray, touch a giant tortoise and walk with the wallabies.

Closer to home, the Seaside Seabird Sanctuary in Redington and the McGough Nature Park’s rescued animals (hawks, eagles, owls) and plethora of snapping, alligator and softshell turtles showcase the importance of rescue havens.

Some animals don’t have a voice, but they still mesmerize. Dinosaur World may be silly but my grandkids love the 150 life-sized dinosaurs and know a Rex from a brontosaurus. The Plant City classic offers a boneyard, fossil dig, museum and dinosaur walk back in time.

Safari Wilderness Ranch in Lakeland is a safari through large herds of exotic game over 260 acres. If you can’t plan a trip to Africa, stop in here. In Orlando, the Wild Florida Airport and Wildlife Park Kenansville gives you a chance to ride an airport and see the gator wildlife park. At Gatorland Orlando, you can take a screaming death-defying zipline over a gator pit.

Of course, Walt Disney World and Sea World offer more animal adventures, both animated and real. There is nothing like walking through the shark tank in Sea World or enjoying an encounter with penguins.

DAY TRIPPING

Your car, some Jimmy Buffet tunes and off you go to explore Tampa Bay.

No airport security lines, just you and your honey (& a kid or three).

  • At Tarpon Springs, you can watch sponge diving demonstrations, go deep sea fishing and explore the lively Greek traditions, from cuisine to historic exhibits.
  • Safety Harbor Resort & Spa offers day packages for men and women, and the picturesque community serves up French, Mexican, Seafood and other ethnic delights.
  • Anna Maria Island may be my favorite place on earth, from The Sandbar Restaurant and beach to the kitschy boutiques and Anna Maria Cottages.   PN

Article by Nanette Wiser

Editor’s Note: Please check Yelp for location & hours. Menu items subject to change.

Hurricane Preparedness Tips

Here is some things that you need to know for the stormy season.

In Pinellas County, we enjoy year-round sunshine and warm weather with abundant water surrounding us on three sides. But, living in paradise comes with its share of hazards. Each year, from June 1 to Nov. 30, catastrophic hurricanes can develop within a matter of days with enough destructive wind and waves to put much of our peninsula underwater. During any season, severe thunderstorms, tornadoes, floods and other perils can strike any corner of our community.

For more information, visit http://www.pinellascounty.org/emergency/.

Barrier island communities have “Re-entry Permits” and you must have one to return. Check with your local government to obtain one.

5 Steps To Prepare For All Hazards

  • CONNECT to vital emergency information about dangerous weather and other hazards.
  • BUILD a survival kit with the things you’ll need to survive without everyday necessities.
  • ASSESS your risk from storms and other perils or emergencies.
  • PLAN where you’ll go and what you’ll do in an emergency.
  • RECOVER after a disaster by taking safety precautions and requesting help.

Your county government works with municipal, state and federal partners to ensure residents and visitors are warned of life-threatening hazards; preparing for these dangers is everyone’s responsibility. In daily life, we all rely on basic services such as electricity, running water and safe roadways to access food, medical care and other necessities. Imagine living for days or even weeks without these essentials as emergency crews work to clean up after a hurricane or other disaster.

Surviving The Storm Is YOUR Responsibilty

  • Know your evacuation zone.
  • Contact your city (and check the website) and make sure that If you live at the beach, you have the right papers to get back on the beach if you are evacuated.
  • If you live in a mobile home, know that you will be among the first to evacuate.
  • Know where you will go and have a plan. Be sure to let your family and friends know where you will go.
  • Take photos and make an inventory now of your valuables.
  • Have a checklist of your important papers, copies and a month’s supply of med as well as cash in case of a storm
  • Have a storm checklist and stock up.
  • Set up emergency alerts on your mobile phone.
  • Know where the local shelters are, and if you have a pet, know which shelters accept animals.
  • Assemble a emergency survival kit that provides for your family’s needs for a minimum of one week and include your Personal Disaster Plan pdf file.
  • If you have to evacuate, find out now where you will be going should an order be issued.If you don’t have to evacuate, prepare shutters to protect your windows and brace your entry doors and garage door.

Plan What You’ll Do

During the chaos of an approaching storm, you may not have time to think through what you and your family members must do to get to a safe place together. While you can’t plan for every possibility, it’s important to answer three questions before a disaster.

  1. WHO WILL I CONTACT? How would I reach my loved ones if my phone did not work in an emergency? Do I have important numbers written down and stored in a safe place? Has my family talked about how we would reconnect if an evacuation was called while we were separated?
  2. WHERE WILL I GO? If there’s a tornado warning in your area, have you identified a “safe room” in your home where you can hunker down? If you had to evacuate for a hurricane, would you try to drive out of town or to a friend’s house in a safer area? In what situations would it be safe to stay home instead of trying to leave?
  3. HOW WILL I GET THERE? If you have to leave your home in a hurry, is your car ready for a long trip? • Do you have emergency supplies in your vehicle? Can you take public transportation to a shelter? Remember to take important documents with you (insurance, deeds, documentation…)

DRIVERS: Be aware that during a large-scale disaster, such as a hurricane, you may encounter heavy traffic on the limited routes out of Pinellas County. Fill up your gas tank and keep emergency supplies in your car.

BUS RIDERS: In an emergency, PSTA will run nearly all routes until it is no longer safe. All rides are free during a hurricane evacuation. Buses will also run from transfer stations to local shelters during an evacuation. Call the PSTA InfoLine at (727) 540-1900. Route information during a storm will also be posted at www.psta.net.

NO TRANSPORTATION: The county offers transportation for special needs residents. If you don’t qualify and can’t ride the bus, contact your local fi re department or Emergency Management in advance for help. Don’t stay in a dangerous situat

Survival Kit Checklist

Imagine life without power, water or safe roads to take you to the grocery store. Think through what you and your family members would need in a disaster to get by for an extended period of time. A large plastic storage bin in your garage can hold most of the things you’ll need.\

Basic Necessities

  • One-week supply of fluids to drink and nonperishable food that doesn’t require cooking, e.g. dried fruit, canned tuna fish, peanut butter, etc.
  • Water – at least 1 gallon of water per person per day for drinking/hygiene
  • Non-electric can opener
  • Medications and copies of prescriptions
  • Paper plates, plastic cups and utensils
  • Cooler with ice
  • Utility knife
  • Clothing/Bedding
  • One change of clothes and shoes per person
  • Rain gear
  • Sturdy work shoes
  • Blankets and sleeping bags
  • Flashlight or lantern
  • Battery-operated or hand-cranked radio
  • Cell phone with charger, extra battery and solar charger
  • Contacts in mobile device and in print for backup
  • Extra batteries
  • Matches or lighter in waterproof container
  • Insect repellant
  • Sunscreen
  • Rope or elastic cord
  • Whistle to signal for help
  • Tools, including wrench to shut off water
  • Map with shelter locations
  • Paper and pencil
  • Tarps
  • Dust mask, plastic sheeting and duct tape to help fi lter contaminated air Health and Sanitation
  • First aid supplies – antibacterial hand gel, soap, over-the-counter pain reliever, anti-diarrhea medicine/laxative, anti-itch cream, antiseptic
  • Sanitation – toilet paper, hygiene supplies, e.g. towelettes, feminine supplies
  • Portable toilet – 5-gallon bucket with lid, trash bags, chlorine bleach
  • Household chlorine bleach with medicine dropper to disinfect or treat water
  • Do not use scented, color safe or bleach with added cleaners
  • Cash or travelers checks
  • Books, cards, board games for entertainment
  • Full tank of gas in vehicle

IF YOU MUST EVACUATE

If you’re staying in a public shelter, picture yourself sleeping every night in a room full of people in a space that only measures about 2.5 feet by 7 feet and pack accordingly. If you are evacuating to stay with friends or relatives in a host home, take a “go bag” and ask in advance what supplies you can bring and what kind of space you’ll have for possessions and vehicles.

“Go Bag” Suggestions

  • Vital papers & ID
  • Cash
  • Phone number list
  • Medications and copies of prescription paperwork
  • Eyeglasses
  • Non-perishable food/snacks
  • Bedding
  • Hygiene items
  • Change of clothes, rain gear
  • Kids’ supplies and entertainment

DOCUMENT CHECKLIST

If you had to leave your home in a hurry, do you have backup copies of your personal documents? Are they stored in a safe place?

  • Driver license or ID card
  • Important numbers and emergency contacts
  • Medical records – pharmacy prescription record, doctors, medications, dosages, blood type
  • Insurance policy numbers – home, health, flood, auto, renters • Household inventory for insurance claims – photo documentation stored on backup drive
  • Other irreplaceable papers – e.g. birth, marriage, divorce, death and adoption certificates, passports, military records, wills, trust documents, titles to house or cars
  • Account numbers for bank, credit cards, savings and investments

MEDICATIONS IN EMERGENCIES

Restrictions on refilling medications early are suspended by state law during hurricane warnings, when the Pinellas County Emergency Operations Center is activated or when the governor has declared a state of emergency. Make sure you get a refill immediately if you may need it.

FYI: Thanks to Pinellas County Emergency Operations Center – Department of Emergency Management for the tips in this article. For more information contact 727-464-3800 During an emergency activation call the Citizen Information Center at (727) 464-4333. http://www.pinellascounty.org/emergency/allhazardguide.htm

Suggestion: Make a checklist of everything that is necessary for survival. Before there is a storm, do a REHEARSAL to see how long it takes to collect necessary items, secure your home, get cash, fill tank with fuel and leave the area. This will give you an idea of time needed to prepare yourself, family and pets to evacuate. Remember, pets are not allowed in public shelters.

Article By Nanette Wiser

Tighter Water Restrictions

Southwest Florida Water Management District (SFWMD) Effective June 5 through August 1, 2017

  • Potable water restrictions will change to one-day-per-week schedule
  • Customers should reduce non-essential water use to conserve resource
  • Due to a rainfall deficit, this is the driest dry season in 103 years!

Lawn watering is limited to a once-per-week schedule using potable,well, lake or pond sources as follows:

Watering Days: Addresses ending in 0 or 1: Monday; 2 or 3: Tuesday; 4 or 5: Wednesday; 6 or 7: Thursday; 8 or 9: Friday; mixed or no addresses: Friday.

  • Prohibited lawn irrigation hours: 8 am – 6 pm
  • Handwatering & micro-irrigation of plants (other than lawns) can be done on any day-any time, if needed.
  • New lawns and plants have a 60-day establishment period. On days 1-30, watered any day of the week. During days 31-60, watered approximately every other day. Even-numbered addresses water Tuesday, Thursday & Sunday. Odd-numbered addresses water Monday, Wednesday & Saturday.
  • Homeowners associations and other entities must suspend any requirement to replace lawns, pressure wash or engage in other activity which is not in alignment with the water shortage declaration.
  • Car washing limited to once-per-week on designated watering day. Commercial car washes, including mobile detailing businesses, may still operate on any day. Emergency and other first responder vehicles may still be washed on any day as needed. Fundraising events are prohibited unless they were scheduled prior to enactment of this order.
  • Pressure washing allowed once a year and for necessary purposes, such as prior to painting or sealing, in order to maintain a paint or material warranty, to address a health or safety hazard & to comply with health laws.
  • Fountains and other aesthetic water features may operate eight hours per day. Regular operation hours can be selected by owner & must poste.
  • Sprinkler-like devices used on a lawn for recreational purposes, limited to the lawn and landscape restrictions.
  • The lawn and landscape of agricultural operations, commercial establishments, golf courses, athletic fields, and industrial facilities are subject to lawn & landscape restrictions listed in the Water Shortage Order.
  • Water use necessary for fire suppression, maintaining safe drinking water quality and other essential services is not restricted.

Violation of the restrictions may result in a fine of $193. There is no allowance for malfunctioning or improperly set timers.

Reclaimed water use remains subject to Pinellas County Utilities restrictions, unless it is blended with potable, well, lake or pond water for irrigation, then the blended water falls under the water shortage order. Customers using reclaimed water provided by Pinellas County Utilities should be following the reclaimed water restrictions found at http://www.pinellascounty.org/utilities/reclaim-irrigation.htm.

Detailed information about water restrictions, call Customer Service (727) 464-4000 or visit www.pinellascounty.org/utilities/water-restrict.htm.  For SWFWMD, visit www.swfwmd.state.fl.us.

The Pinellas County water program underscores a key component of Pinellas County’s Strategic Plan: reducing, reusing and recycling resources including energy, water and solid waste.

Information courtesy of Pinellas County Government.

Pinellas unveils new hurricane tools, shares updates to evacuation zones

Residents encouraged to check their evacuation zone, download the new app

  • Citizen can download the Ready Pinellas app for easy hurricane preparedness
  • Check your evacuation zone as more than 85,000 properties have been impacted by updates
  • 2017 All Hazards Preparedness Guide now available at multiple locations
Pinellas County officials unveiled new emergency preparedness tools and urged residents to check their evacuation zone during June 1 Media Day: Kick Off to the 2017 Hurricane Season.
With the first day of the 2017 Atlantic Hurricane Season, the county highlighted the launch of the new “Ready Pinellas” mobile app designed to help residents with preparedness and decision-making ahead of storm events. It is available for free download on the Apple Store and Google Play.

Newly-released storm surge data produced by the National Hurricane Center (NHC) and the Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council (TBRPC) has resulted in changes to the assigned evacuation zones for more than 85,000 properties in Pinellas County.  About 20,000 of these properties are now in an evacuation zone for the first time.

To keep residents informed about these changes, the county provided phone, text and email notifications via its Alert Pinellas notification service. Sign up for Alert Pinellas at www.pinellascounty.org/alertpinellas. Residents are reminded to review their current insurance policies and consider adding flood insurance to their coverage, which takes 30 days to go into effect.

Citizens may review their evacuation zones by using one or more of the following resources:

“We encourage residents to follow three key preparedness steps: connect to emergency information by signing up for Alert Pinellas, assess your risk by checking your evacuation zone and plan to prepare for during and after the storm by downloading the Ready Pinellas app,” said Sally Bishop, director of Pinellas County Emergency Management.

Emergency Management has made copies of the 2017 All Hazards Preparedness Guide available at county government facilities, public libraries, city locations and online at www.pinellascounty.org/emergency. The guide provides residents important tips on a variety of emergency and hurricane-related topics, as well as a basic, fillable template for an emergency plan.

Residents are also encouraged to review their emergency kits and take advantage of a three-day sales tax holiday for hurricane supplies starting June 2. During the hurricane supply sales tax holiday, residents will be able to purchase items such as flashlights, batteries, weather radios and other essential items tax-free.

For more information on hurricane preparedness, please visit  www.pinellascounty.org/emergency or call Pinellas County Emergency Management at (727) 464-3800.

Scam Alert

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is encouraging the public to be on alert of scammers targeting elderly citizens identifying and posing as employees of the water department. Victims are told there is a water leak in their home and once the suspects gain entry, one suspect distracts the victim while the other suspect steals various jewelry and valuables. Pinellas County Sheriff’s De- partment encourages citizens to not allow anyone entry into their home without first verify- ing the status of their employment by either contacting your local water department or the Pinellas County Sheriff’s office at 727.582.6200.

Join the friendly Team of Courthouse Ambassador Volunteers

Pinellas County is in search of friendly individuals to be part of the Courthouse Ambassador volunteer program. Courthouse Ambassadors are often the first contact citizens encounter while conducting business in the Pinellas County Courthouse.

Interested county residents are invited to attend a Courthouse Ambassador recruitment gathering this Friday, June 2, from 10 to 11:30 a.m., in Studio B, located in the Pinellas County Marketing & Communications Department at 333 Chestnut St., Clearwater.

To join this dynamic team, volunteers are asked to commit to one or more four-hour shifts weekly. Friends and family members are welcome to team up and share a time slot.

Located at the Information Station in the lobby of the courthouse, Ambassadors are well trained as information representatives to meet the needs of citizens, provide directions and assist with questions concerning county departments.
Refreshments will be provided for those who attend the gathering.

Interested participants are requested to RSVP to Volunteer Coordinator Vanessa Quintana at vquintana@pinellascounty.org or by calling (727) 464-4600. Volunteer information is available at www.pinellascounty.org/volunteer or by contacting Volunteer Services at (727) 464-8477.

Pinellas County Residents Invited to 8th Annual Community Conversation

• Event to be hosted at the St. Petersburg College, Seminole Campus
• Citizens able to submit questions live via blog, social media, telephone and in-person

Residents are invited to join the Pinellas County Board of County Commissioners and the County Administrator in a Community Conversation to discuss county services and important topics live on June 15.

The public meeting will take place from 6 – 7:30 p.m. at St. Petersburg College- Seminole campus, in the University Partnership Center Digitorium, 9200 113th St. N., Seminole. It will be preceded by a Meet and Greet from 5:30 to 6 p.m.

There are five ways to participate in the conversation:

  • Be part of the live audience at the St. Petersburg College- Seminole campus.
  • Watch it live and blog on www.pinellascounty.org/CommunityConversation. The blog opens in advance for questions on Wednesday, June 14, at 9 a.m.
  • Watch it and ask questions on Pinellas County’s Facebook or post on Twitter and Instagram accounts using #pinellascc.
  • Call (888) 409-5380 to listen and ask questions.
  • Watch on PCC-TV (Spectrum Channel 637, WOW! Channel 18 or Frontier Channel 44) and SPC-TV (Spectrum Channel 636, WOW! Channel 19 or Frontier Channel 47).

Citizen comments are encouraged as part of the conversation with Pinellas County Commissioners: Chair Janet C. Long, Vice Chair Kenneth T. Welch, Charlie Justice, Dave Eggers, Pat Gerard, John Morroni, and Karen Williams Seel, and County Administrator Mark S. Woodard. The conversation will be moderated by Al Ruechel of Bay News 9.

For more information about Community Conversation, including links to resources about the county’s strategic plan and the citizen survey, visit www.pinellascounty.org/CommunityConversation or call (727) 464-3000.

Residents Reminded to Review Flood Insurance Policies

Pinellas County is currently experiencing drought conditions, but the rainy season will be upon us in a matter of months. Rain brings the potential for flooding, especially since most of our county is located within a floodplain.

To help our citizens plan and prepare for these summer showers and afternoon thunderstorms, Pinellas County is reminding residents to review their current insurance policies and consider adding flood insurance to their coverage.

“Anywhere it rains, it can flood. Having a flood insurance policy, whether for the home, business or rental property, is a good preparedness tool for residents regardless of whether or not they live within a designated flood zone,” said Lisa Foster, Pinellas County floodplain administrator.

Regular homeowners’ insurance doesn’t cover property damage caused by floods and hurricanes. Flood insurance, on the other hand, provides coverage for water intrusion due to flooding caused by heavy rains, tropical storms and hurricanes. Because the County and municipalities participate in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), flood insurance is available to homeowners, renters and business owners whether or not they are in a designated flood zone. Nearly 20 percent of flood insurance claims comes from areas that are not in a special flood hazard area.

Flood insurance is mandatory for federally-backed mortgages on buildings located in the special flood hazard area. Typically, there is a 30-day waiting period from the date of purchase before a flood policy goes into effect.

Due to Pinellas County’s proactive efforts, residents of unincorporated areas are eligible to receive up to 25 percent savings in the cost of their flood insurance By participating in the federal Community Rating System (CRS), Pinellas County saved residents in unincorporated county more than $5 million in flood insurance policy premiums over the last year.

Residents and business owners can learn more about flood insurance topics by visiting www.pinellascounty.org/flooding or calling (727) 464-7700.

Pinellas County Warning: Scammers Posing as Utilities Workers

Pinellas County Utilities is warning residents about a scam targeting citizens that involves people going door-to-door posing as employees of a utilities department.

Detectives with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office say they are investigating the cases involving two men posing as employees of a water department informing victims of a water leak in their homes. Upon entry, one suspect distracts the residents while the other suspects steals valuables, such as jewelry.

Over the past 11 days, detectives say they have heard of three cases involving senior citizens who live in the City of Seminole and the City of Redington Beach.

The suspects are described as two men 40 to 50 years of age. The first suspect is described as having a heavy build with a beard and possibly wearing glasses. The second male is described as white male with a slim build. The suspects were seen leaving in a newer model black full-size Dodge Ram pickup truck.

By policy, Pinellas County Utilities employees do not enter customers’ homes. If you have any questions, call our Utilities department at (727) 464-4000. Detectives advise residents not to allow anyone to enter into their homes.

Residents who feel they may have been targeted by these suspects are encouraged to call the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office at 727-582-6200.

Contact Detective Weil of the Burglary and Pawn Unit at 727-582-6337 with information about this case. To remain anonymous and be eligible for a reward, contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS or www.crimestoppersofpinellas.org.