Excellence in Outreach and Communications Award

The Iowa DNR recently received an award:the 3rd Annual FEMA Cooperating Technical Partner for Excellence in Outreach and Communications.The link below leads to a story map developed to highlight our program.Thanks to Scott Ralston, Chris Kahle, Ken Bouma and Jason Conn for all their superb work!

Draft Flood Hazard Outreach Program Increases Disaster Preparedness and Promotes Local Mitigation Investments

Floodplain Mapping

The Iowa DNR and FEMA entered into a Cooperating Technical Partner (CTP) Agreement on August 12, 2009, with the goal of collaboratively creating and maintaining accurate, up-to-date flood hazard data for the state. This ushered in the Iowa DNR's Floodplain Mapping Program. The goal of the program is to develop digital FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) based on Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) for all 99 counties. LiDAR elevation data is very accurate topographic data.At one (1) meter resolution (elevations to +/- 8 inches) for the entire state, it met FEMA’s criteria for making FIRM data.

The State of Iowa was awarded $15.0 million in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Disaster Recovery Funds in 2009 as a result of the devastating floods of 2008. This funding was allocated to the Iowa DNR for the development of new floodplain maps and updating of existing maps for all of the 85 Iowa counties listed in the federal Disaster Declaration of 5/27/2008 (Declaration FEMA-1763-DR). Iowa had begun collection of LiDAR in 2007 before the 2008 flood; having that dataset available was one of the keys to the program’s success. This $4.3 million project was funded by several state and federal agencies and completed in 2012.  At the time, Iowa was one of a few states in the country to accomplish this significant data acquisition task.

In 2010, the Iowa legislature mandated that the Iowa Flood Center (IFC) at the University of Iowa contract with the Iowa DNR for $10 million of the $15 million of CDBG grant funds to map the 85 disaster declared counties. In March 2015, the contract with the Iowa Flood Center was amended to increase the contract amount to $12.5 million, this contract ended in December 2016. To update floodplain mapping for the remaining 14 non-disaster declared counties state funding and leveraging of state resources with the Army Corps of Engineers Section 22 Public Assistance to States (PAS) program was used. Two Section 22 PAS agreements between the Iowa DNR and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers have been executed: September 21, 2011 (for eleven countywide floodplain work maps); and June 28, 2012 (for one countywide floodplain work map). Development of flood hazard data for the two remaining non-declared counties was funded with non-grant state funding. The $15 million CDBG grant has been completely expended as of December 31, 2016 – and has been closed out by the State of Iowa Economic Development Authority.  

In order to have the capability to provide technical and project management oversight of Iowa’s floodplain mapping program, in 2009 the Iowa DNR hired Scott Ralston, P.E., CFM, a senior environmental engineer with 26 years of public and private civil engineering experience (at time of hire) to act as Floodplain Mapping Coordinator/CTP Program Manager - and Chris Kahle, a senior GIS analyst with 17 years of GIS experience (at time of hire) to develop GIS solutions, manage project personnel and provide overall data management.

The Iowa DNR is currently performing work for forty-seven (47) regulatory countywide FIRMs and restudy of one enhanced (detailed) flood study (Honey Creek in the City of Boone). Forty-one (41) of these FIRMs are being funded by the 2016 CTP grant, and six (6) are being funded by the 2017 CTP grant.

The Iowa DNR learns of the need to restudy streams, and do new studies where they don’t exist, through outreach events attended by local officials. When the Iowa DNR learns of a need they put it in the annually updated CTP Business Plan in order to ask for grants from FEMA. The 2018 CTP grant focuses on restudy of enhanced stream reaches located in 14 counties.This will result in replacing outdated floodplain mapping for the 1% (100-year) and 0.2% (500-year) annual chance floods for these study areas. The 2019 CTP grant extends the detailed studies in the 14 counties to include Preliminary (FIRM) distribution, due process (appeal periods) and a 6-month compliance period so that the flood maps for the detailed studies can become effective.

The Iowa DNR is the state coordinating agency for the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and provides assistance to local communities that participate in the NFIP. Bill Cappuccio, a water resources engineer with 40-plus years of experience as the State of Iowa NFIP Coordinator, and two other staff members, Jason Conn and Ken Bouma, are dedicated to working closely with NFIP participating communities to ensure their compliance with both state and NFIP requirements.

Floodplain Mapping Status

Map of Iowa, Floodplain Mapping Status September 2018

Floodplain Mapping Resources