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Flooding can affect anyone.  It is Kentucky’s #1 most frequent and costly natural disaster.  Anywhere where rain falls, it can flood.  Understanding your flood risk, and taking actions to reduce that risk, can make you and your community more resilient to flooding.

 


FEMA and the Division of Water, as a Cooperating Technical Partner (CTP) with FEMA, update and maintain Kentucky’s flood maps, called Flood Insurance Rate Maps or FIRMs, through the Risk MAP program.  FIRMs indicate flood hazards throughout the Commonwealth by identifying areas at high, moderate, or low risk of flooding during a 1% annual chance flood event (formally called the 100-year flood).  

Flood maps are used to support of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) to help manage, reduce, and mitigate flood risks.  FIRMs are also used by many other stakeholders such as lenders, insurance agents, and by local communities.  The Division of Water provides high quality flood maps, tools, and information to help communities betters assess their flood risk, to support them in their actions to reduce those risks, and to help them become more resilient.    See if your home or business is located in an area at high risk of Flooding.

Floods are an act of nature.  Managing how we develop in areas that are at greatest risk of flooding can limit damages and negative impacts to communities and individuals.  The NFIP, the Commonwealth, and your local community set development standards for building in areas at high risk of flooding.  These standards help ensure that new developments are built so that the risk of damage from a flood is significantly reduced.

Communities can adopt higher standards that exceed the minimum requirements for the Commonwealth.  Higher standards make communities even stronger and more resilient, now and in the future.  Communities that have freeboard requirements reduce the risk of flooding to structures and may also reduce flood insurance premiums.  Communities that participate in the Community Rating System (CRS) receive credits that result in lower flood insurance premiums for adopting higher standards, with discounts up to 45 percent.

Learn more about floodplain management.  To learn more about how CRS participation could benefit your community, visit successwithcrs.us or learn how to apply for CRS.  To learn more about floodplain management in Kentucky, contact the Division of Water at water@ky.gov.

Apply for a Floodplain Permit

The Division of Water is authorized through KRS 151 to manage development in floodplains.  Any type of development in, along, or across a stream requires a floodplain permit from the Division. Typical activities requiring a permit include, but are not limited to, residential & commercial structures, stream crossings, fill, stream alterations & relocations, excavation, grading, and small stream impoundments.  State floodplain development requirements are outlined in 401 KAR 4:060 of the Kentucky Administrative Regulations.  The Division of Water has two types of permits that it issues for floodplain development: 1) General Permit, or 2) Individual Permit.

 General Permit

The Division of Water's General Permit for Floodplain Development approves development that does not change the Base Flood Elevation and has minimal flood risk potential.  One of the benefits of the General Permit is that it does not require the permittee to submit an application for review by the Division of Water.  The eligible activities are already approved with conditions listed on the permit.  Additionally, there is no Public Notice requirements for the permittee as the General Permit has already been noticed by the Division.

The Floodplain General Permit lists 15 eligible activities listed that can be conducted with the General Permit.  Some of these eligible activities include riparian buffers, below grade utilities, guardrails, fences, campers & RVs, open space uses, stream obstruction removals, below grade swimming pools outside the floodway, and more.  Some activities are specifically excluded from the General Permit such as structures (residential, non-residential, and appurtenant), structures impounding water, and developments occurring in a special use waters, exceptional waters, or outstanding state resource waters.

Any proposed developments that do not meet the General Permit's eligibility requirements, or that have the potential to change the Base Flood Elevation, are required to obtain an Individual Permit from the Division of Water.  See the 'Individual Permit' section below to learn more about the Individual Permit for floodplain development.  To learn how the General Permit affects the local permitting process, see the 'Local Communities' section below.

 Individual Permit

401 KAR 4:060 of the Kentucky Administrative Regulations lists the stream construction criterial for development along, across, or adjacent to a stream.  These regulations require that an application be completed by the applicant and submitted to the Division of Water for review.  This regulation also requires that a public notice is given as part of the stream construction permit application process.

Applicants can now submit their permit application package digitally multiple ways.  The eForms submittal process allows applicants to submit applications directly to the division for review.  Additionally, the eForm also allows access to almost all Kentucky online forms, will remember previous entries and will auto populate data which saves time, and will receive a confirmation your form was received and is being reviewed.  Application packages may also be digitally submitted via email to DOWFloodplain@ky.gov.  An auto-response email will notify you that your application was received and is being processed by the Division.  The Division also still accepts applications sent via regular us mail as well.

Apply for a state floodplain construction permitApplications submission instructions are also available.

 Local Communities

In addition to the state floodplain development permits, local permits are also required.  Communities that participate in the NFIP are required to review & issue local floodplain permits in addition with state floodplain permits.  Kentucky statute gives local communities the authority to adopt higher standards than the statewide minimum requirements.  Locally adopted higher standards benefit communities by reducing flood damage and the overall impacts of floods. These impacts include human risk, environmental damage, property damage, flood insurance claims, displacement of residents, and burden on community infrastructure and services.

 Talk to your local floodplain coordinator about community specific development requirements or about applying for a local permit.

The NFIP was created by Congress to help property owners protect themselves financially from flood events.  The goal of the program is to reduce flood risk and encourage sound floodplain management activities.  Flood insurance is available to all homeowners, business owners, and renters to protect their structure and its contents in communities that participate in the NFIP.  Learn more about the NFIP

Communities that exceed NFIP and Kentucky minimum requirements for floodplain management can join the Community Rating System (CRS) program.  CRS communities receive credits for higher standards that result in lower flood insurance premiums for policyholders, with discounts up to 45 percent.  Contact your local floodplain coordinator to see if your community participates in CRS.  Learn More about the CRS program.

Do you need flood insurance? Learn why flood insurance is important to protect yourself financially from flooding.  For help understanding flood insurance, finding an agent, or filing a claim, visit www.floodsmart.gov.  

Want to pay less for your flood insurance?  Visit FEMA’s How I Can Pay Less for Flood Insurance page to learn about actions you or your community can take to reduce your flood insurance premium.






Flood mitigation constitutes actions taken to reduce loss of life or damage to property to lessen impacts of flood events.  Where it rains, it can flood so any time is a good time for mitigation.  There are many mitigation actions that individuals or communities can take to lessen the impact of flooding.  Learn about mitigation actions [4.2 MB] you can take, or view the Mitigation for Homeowners Fact Sheet [466 KB].

Funding sources, resources, and technical experts are available to help individuals or communities implement mitigation actions.  Federal Hazard Mitigation Assistance (HMA) grant funding is available for cities, counties, and tribal governments, and certain nonprofit agencies.  The agencies can apply themselves or sponsor applications on behalf of individuals or businesses. Learn more about HMA grants.  To help communities meet their local match for federal funding, the Department for Local Government’s State Flood Control Matching Grant Program may be able to help.

Property owners that have flood insurance also have the ability to utilize Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) funding that is available through your flood insurance policy.  This coverage may provide up to $30,000 to help elevate, relocate, or demolish your home after substantial damage.  Business owners may also obtain funding to dry floodproof their structure.  Learn more about Increased Cost of Compliance [2.4 MB] or speak to your flood insurance provider about ICC funding.


Take the following steps to begin the recovery process:

Step 1) Make sure it’s safe to go back.
Before you re-enter your home, speak to your community’s local elected officials and county Emergency Manager.  Be sure your electricity and gas are off prior to going inside.  Give your home first aid by covering holes, reinforcing sagging floors, ceilings, or roof sections, and checking for broken or leaking pipes.  Minimize the spread and growth of mold [5.7 MB] as much as possible.  Flood insurance will not cover mold damage if the policy holder fails to take action. 

Step 2) Report your loss.
Contact your insurance agent or company promptly to report your loss.  File a ‘Notice of Loss’ with your insurer.  Ask them about advance payments related to your flood insurance.  Ask your insurance provider to see if Increased Cost of Compliance [2.4 MB] funding is available.

Step 3) Get organized.
This includes making a list of all damaged property, both for your building itself and your building’s contents.  Take photos and videos of all items.  Record information such as the item’s description, brand, model & serial numbers, and approximate age of the item.

Step 4) Begin cleanup.
Dry out your home by lowering its humidity.  Open doors, windows, closets, and cabinets, as well as run fans and dehumidifiers.  Any surface touched by floodwaters needs to be removed and/or properly cleaned.  Floodwaters are dirty and can often carry things such as hazardous chemicals, human waste, or other contaminants, so proper protective gear and cleaning is critical.  Be sure to protect yourself from floodwater contaminants during cleanup.  Learn more about what can be saved and what needs to be thrown out [5.7 MB] after a flood.  

Step 5) Talk to your local officials.
Don’t just build it back, build it better.  Speak to your local floodplain coordinator and building officials to discuss the next steps toward recovery.  This can include repairing your structure and taking mitigation actions to prevent future flood damages.  Ask your local officials if disaster assistance or mitigation grant funding is available.