The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)
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.
The National Flood Insurance Program
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a voluntary program based on a mutual agreement between the federal government and the local community. The NFIP is administered by the Federal Insurance Administration (FIA) within the Federal Emergency Management Agency. The Illinois Department of Natural Resources/Office of Water Resources (IDNR/OWR) is the state coordinating agency for the NFIP.
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. Annual damages in the state average nearly 700 million dollars.
The 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 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 NFIP.
Community Rating System = Reduced Flood Insurance Premiums
Many communities in Illinois have gone above state and federal minimum standards to adopt higher regulatory standards for floodplain management and have implemented other programs to improve their community’s flood resilience. Currently, 71 communities participate in the NFIP’s Community Rating System program that makes their property owners eligible for discounted flood insurance premiums.
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/ . You can also view floodplain maps at the FEMA Map Service Center searching any address.
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: Change Your Flood Zone (LOMA/LOMR)
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:
The proper use of Floodplain Regulations helps to reduce the risk of future flood losses. The state’s model ordinance has been revised over the years. The 2022 model ordinances are now available. Communities are encouraged to adopt the most recent version. Any communities interested in amending their ordinance should contact the OWR Floodplain Program staff at the contact information posted below. The model ordinances for counties and municipalities outside of northeastern Illinois with mapped floodplain and floodways is available at: Water Resources Publications. OWR staff can provide a more customized Microsoft Word version upon request and will guide you through amendment and approval process.
State Model Floodplain Ordinance
Please contact IDNR/OWR, Erin C. Conley, prior to adopting or revising any floodplain regulations at 217-782-4428, Erin.C.Conley@Illinois.gov .
Since 1993 the state has aggressively targeted the most flood prone structures using a variety of FEMA and state mitigation funds. Over 4000 of the state's most flood prone structures have now been mitigated, either through state or federal buyouts followed by demolition or elevation by the owner. Mitigation avoids millions of dollars of future flood losses.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources/Office of Water Resources administers state mitigation funds when available. A public notice for applications from counties and municipalities is issued when applications are being accepted. For additional information contact Ron Davis, Mitigation Program Coordinator.
For more information
Local floodplain administrators can now download the following helpful floodplain management documents in pdf format.