The DNR works with communities and counties to develop and administer local floodplain management programs, coordinates the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), and assists the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Division (HSEMD) in responding to flood disasters.
What is the NFIP?
Nearly 650 Iowa communities currently participate in the NFIP. To participate in the program, a community must adopt and enforce floodplain management ordinances meant to reduce damage from future flood events. In exchange, the NFIP makes federally backed flood insurance available to homeowners, renters and business owners in these communities. Community participation in the NFIP is voluntary, but there are many advantages to participating.
Flood insurance is intended to provide an alternative to disaster assistance and to reduce the escalating costs of repairing damage to buildings and their contents caused by floods. Flood damage is reduced by nearly $1 billion a year nationally through communities implementing sound floodplain management requirements and property owners purchasing flood insurance. Additionally, buildings constructed in compliance with NFIP and Iowa floodplain development standards suffer approximately 80% less damage annually than those not built in compliance
In addition to providing flood insurance and reducing flood damages through floodplain management regulations, the NFIP identifies and maps the nation's floodplain. Mapping flood hazards areas creates broad-based awareness of flood hazards and provides the data needed for floodplain management programs and to actuarially rate new construction for flood insurance.
Iowa Legislative Code 455B.262A
Iowa Legislative Code 455B.262A is a law that was enacted in the spring of 2009. The law ties a community's eligibility for certain post-disaster state assistance to participation in the National Flood Insurance Program.
Following a presidentially declared disaster, FEMA makes public assistance grants available to local governments. The grants may be used for clean up and repairs (e.g., assistance for debris removal, infrastructure repair, etc.). These grants usually provide only 75 percent of the cost of any post-disaster project. The state of Iowa typically contributes another 10 percent towards the required 25 percent non-federal match for public assistance grants. Effective July 1, 2011, the state of Iowa will make its contribution towards this non-federal match for public assistance grants associated with flood-related disaster declarations contingent upon the community being in good standing with the NFIP.
This code chapter only affects those communities that have an existing Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) published by FEMA that identifies areas within the community that are subject to inundation by flood waters during a 1 percent chance flood event (also known as the 100-year flood). If a community is newly identified as having areas that are subject to inundation during a 1 percent chance flood event, it will have two years from the effective date of the FIRM to join the NFIP before the community loses eligibility for state matching funds.
For more information on Iowa Legislative Code 455B.262A, please contact Ken Bouma at (515) 281-6907 or Ken.Bouma@dnr.iowa.gov.
Flooding in Iowa Video Series
In collaboration with ISU Extension, the DNR produced the Flooding in Iowa project. Flooding in Iowa is a series of web-based videos that are designed to educate local officials and the general public about floodplains, flood risks, and basic floodplain management principles. The videos are divided into five categories: Introduction to the NFIP, Understanding Flooding, Floodplain Mapping, Floodplain Regulation, and Flood Insurance. Access to these videos is available at the ISU Extension website.
Floodplain Administrator Tools
The Department partnered with the Iowa Stormwater and Floodplain Management Association (IFSMA) to produce a suite of tools for local floodplain managers. Each toolkit covers a specific aspect of the NFIP and local responsibilities under the program.
Iowa Floodplain Management Desk Reference
Originally created in 2003, the Desk Reference underwent a much needed update in 2014. Incorporating changes to the NFIP over the last decade and building on lessons learned, this is the manual for floodplain management in Iowa. Its comprehensive nature means this is a rather large document, however its core necessities have been summarized in the Floodplain Management Ready Reference.
Community Rating System (CRS)
This toolkit was designed to help Iowa’s flood prone communities determine whether the CRS program may be a good fit for them. It streamlines the initial stages of the process by helping identify activities the community is already doing and highlighting easy wins to go after. The CRS toolkit explains the enrollment process and provides templates to use for notifying stakeholders.
Iowa Flood Response
This document aims to to help communities prepare and respond to flood emergencies. It is meant to be a quick reference that addresses steps to be taken before, during, and after a flood. Drawing on the experiences of seasoned floodplain administrators, this toolkit provides valuable information to help your community respond to a flood event.
Unlike the other tools in the series, this element takes the form of a training session for those communities that have a portion of the State's floodplain permitting authority delegated to them. This training session is designed to provide a solid foundation on how to effectively perform the duties of a local floodplain administrator in a delegated community. Contact the DNR for more information or to request a training session in your area.
For more information:
If you are interested in enrolling your community in the NFIP, need assistance drafting or updating a floodplain ordinance or have general questions regarding the NFIP, HF759 or flood insurance, please contact either: