Illinois has one of the largest inland systems of rivers, lakes and streams in the United States. Nearly 15% of our total land area (or 7,400 square miles) is subject to flooding. Total stream flow in Illinois averages over 25 BILLION gallons per day! We are very flood prone.
Floods are an inevitable natural event. Floods are by far the most common natural disaster in Illinois, accounting for well over 90% of the declared disasters. It is estimated that over 250,000 buildings are located in floodplains of Illinois.
Unwise floodplain development further increases property damage and potential loss of life from flooding. There are almost always adverse impacts upon the citizens, local governments and state government from both physical and financial damages. Therefore, it is very important to develop and expand flood risk reduction activities in order to yield positive, long-term benefits. The Illinois Emergency Management (IEMA) has information on risk identification, mitigation planning, and disaster awareness.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) was created by Congress in 1968 to slow ever rising disaster relief costs and reduce the loss of life and property caused by flooding.
To join the NFIP, a community must adopt and enforce local floodplain management regulations. In exchange, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) makes flood insurance, disaster assistance, and mitigation grants available to that community.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources/Office of Water Resources (IDNR/OWR) is the state coordinating agency for the NFIP. The NFIP is a voluntary program based on a mutual agreement between the federal government and the local community. Currently, 82 counties and 770 communities in Illinois have adopted a local floodplain ordinance and participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.
To find out how your community can join the NFIP please see www.floodsmart.gov.
FEMA and the State of Illinois have identified floodplains within the state. These floodplain maps are used by communities, planners, lenders, and insurance agents to identify flood risk areas. Floodplain maps of Illinois can be viewed on line at: http://www.illinoisfloodmaps.org/
On occasion, residents in Illinois will dispute a property's location within a floodplain. FEMA has a process to remove a property from a floodplain. However, before this happens a property owner must provide FEMA with technical or elevation data to prove the property is not at risk of flooding. Information on map changes can be found at: http://www.fema.gov
The average homeowners policy does not cover flood damage. Therefore, we encourage citizens to purchase flood insurance. Information on flood insurance can be found at:
http://www.floodsmart.gov/floodsmart/ or http://www.fema.gov/
Both FEMA and the Illinois Office of Water Resources have established floodplain management standards for communities to follow. These regulations prevent future flood losses from occurring. Adopting the state model floodplain ordinance is the first step. This ordinance is being used by the majority of communities in Illinois. Please contact OWR or FEMA to obtain copies of the appropriate model ordinance for your community.
Since 1993 the state has aggressively targeted the most flood prone structures using a variety of FEMA and state mitigation funds. Nearly 50% of the state's most flood prone structures have now been mitigated saving the taxpayers millions of dollars every year. However, additional mitigation work needs to be done to continue to reduce flood damages. Mitigation programs are available to address flood losses:
Community Rating System = Reduced Flood Insurance Premiums
Many communities in Illinois have gone well above state and federal minimum standards to adopt higher regulatory standards. Currently, 45 communities in Illinois get discounted flood insurance premiums for exceeding state and federal minimum standards. To see how your community can benefit, see this link:
For more information:
Local floodplain administrators can now download the following helpful floodplain management documents in pdf format.
Quick Guide to Floodplain Management
Resource Guide for Illinois
For further questions contact Paul Osman, Floodplain Program Manager.