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.
Illinois Emergency Management Agency
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.
To find out how your community can join the NFIP please see
FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program. Please read through this handout for answers to
Frequently Asked Questions about Joining the NFIP.
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:
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:
You can also view floodplain maps at the
FEMA Map Service Center searching any address.
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:
FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program.
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, Marilyn Sucoe, prior to adopting or revising any floodplain regulations at 847-608-3181,
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. The Illinois Emergency Management Agency administers the various federal mitigation grant programs. For additional information on their mitigation programs go to: Mitigation - Recovery.
IEMA's Mitigation Programs
When state mitigation funds are made available, the Office of Water Resources issues a public notice for applications from counties and municipalities. For additional information contact
Ron Davis, Mitigation Program Coordinator.
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.
For more information
Local floodplain administrators can now download the following helpful floodplain management documents in pdf format.
If you need additional help:
- In Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake, McHenry and Will Counties contact
Marilyn Sucoe, NE Floodplain Program Coordinator
- For the remainder of Illinois, contact
Marilyn Sucoe, Acting Floodplain Program Chief.