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Floodplain Maps Update

Frequently Asked Questions


I got a letter in the mail from the Unified Government about my property and the floodplains. Why?

The Unified Government is informing you that your property may be within or near the floodplain limits.  This information is displayed on an updated Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) map for you to review.  FEMA recently updated old paper floodplain maps by making them digital.  Additionally, some areas throughout the County were restudied to improve the accuracy of flood estimates.  FEMA has used this updated information for their Flood Insurance Rate Maps.

What is a Flood Insurance Rate Map?

FEMA, an agency of the federal government, publishes maps that show an estimate of the 100-year floodplain on larger rivers and streams. Those maps are called the “Flood Insurance Rate Maps” and are used for the primary purpose of setting flood insurance premium rates. The maps also are used by cities to regulate building in the floodplain.

The Flood Insurance Rate Maps only show the floodplain of larger rivers and streams, which are designated on the map as the “Special Flood Hazard Area.”  Localized flooding, such as run-off from a neighbor’s yard or backups from sewers, is not addressed with these maps.

How can I see the maps?

You can review the updated maps and see the older maps here.  You will need the updated map number and older map number included on your letter. If you do not have access to the Internet, copies of the maps will be available at an Open House on June 21:

The open house will be from 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. at the Kansas City, Kansas Community College, 7250 State Avenue, in the Commons area of the Jewell Building. You can come and go during this Open House time.

The purpose of the meeting is to provide property owners an opportunity to review the updated maps and give the public important information about flood insurance, which can provide property owners significant savings on flood insurance.

Some owners may also wish to get a more formal determination of their floodplain status. This is especially important if your property is newly-identified in the floodplain. 

The letter says my property is near or within the floodplain limits. What does that mean? 

It means that a portion of your property appears to be in or near the area with risk of being flooded during heavy or extreme storms.  This area is often called the 100-year floodplain.  

So how do I tell if my house in the floodplain?

The new maps have aerial photos in the background that can allow you to more easily see where your house or other important buildings are located.  The best way to see your flood risk is to look at the actual flood maps, which we have made available online or which we will have at the open house meeting.

What is the 100-year floodplain?

The 100-year floodplain is a map of land that has a known annual flood risk exceeding 1 percent or that there is a one percent chance that the area will flood in any given year.  Even though it is commonly referred to as the 100-year floodplain, it is important to note that it does not mean there will always be 100 years between such floods.   

Over the life of a standard 30-year mortgage, a 1 percent annual risk translates into a 26 percent chance of having at least one flood.

What if I cannot attend the Open House?

If you cannot attend the Open House, please feel free to contact the Unified Government Floodplain Hotline:  913-573-8664 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday.  Please refer to the Parcel ID# at the top of your letter when calling about this parcel.

When do the maps officially change?

The updated Flood Insurance Rate Maps will be adopted September 2, 2011.  Until then, the older paper floodplain maps remain in effect.

Is this new, or was I in the floodplain before?

The older floodplain maps were paper maps.  The updated maps were digitized. For many of you, this update only confirms what those older maps showed. There are some properties, though, that are being shown within or near the floodplain for the first time. Even though there are not many changes between the older and updated maps, property owners are sometimes unaware of their floodplain status.

What areas were restudied?

In 2005, the Marshall Creek area was studied in detail for the first time.  Prior to that, the area was only shown with a generalized flood limit and no specific data on flood depths.  The Marshall Creek area includes all the tributaries that drain into Wyandotte County Lake.  This is the only area in which the updated maps show significant new information. 

Why are the floodplain maps changing?

The old FEMA maps were paper maps created 20-30 years ago.  In 2003, with aging flood control infrastructure and extremely outdated flood maps across the United States, Congress required FEMA to update flood hazard maps. The efforts used the latest data and technology to identify current flood risks.

The updated map shows that my home is in the 100-year floodplain.  How can I get more information?

  • To get more information, you should attend the June 21 Open House to speak to FEMA officials and insurance representatives.
  • If you cannot attend, please feel free to contact us directly for more information at:

           Floodplain Hotline: 913-573-8664 

  • You can review the updated maps and see the older maps here.  You will need the updated map number and older map number included on your letter.
  • You should also research and consider buying flood insurance – your mortgage lender likely will require it.

What does this mean for me as a homeowner?

The Unified Government is a participating community in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which means that property owners in the County are eligible for flood insurance through the NFIP. 

How do I get flood insurance?

Flood insurance is provided by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which is a program administered by FEMA. It is sold by most insurance companies. Your local agent can help you get coverage.  You should also review the limits and exclusions of the policy carefully with your agent.

For more information on NFIP, visit

Doesn’t my homeowner’s insurance policy cover flooding?

No, it does not.  Flood insurance is only available through NFIP.  Your homeowner’s policy does not cover damages resulting from flooding.  Contact your insurance agent for information about your specific policy.

Can you tell me more about flood insurance?

All property owners in the Unified Government can get flood insurance, regardless of whether you are in or out of the floodplain.  The premium you would pay changes depending upon your detailed status.  There are also some grandfather rules that help for homes going into the floodplain. When contacting your insurance agent, you should specifically ask for flood insurance since nearly all standard homeowner policies exclude flood damage.

How much will it cost?

Beginning in 2011, the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s National Flood Insurance Program began a new flood insurance rating option to help reduce the financial burden for property owners whose buildings/structures are newly-mapped into a high-risk flood area. There is a Preferred Risk flood insurance policy, low-cost flood insurance to owners and tenants of eligible residential and non –residential buildings located in moderate-to low-risk areas. Buildings mapped from a non-Special Flood Hazard Area into a Special Flood Hazard Area on or after October 1, 2008 are eligible for a Preferred Risk Policy for two years following the effective date of the map revision. In addition, FEMA has extended eligibility of the Preferred Risk Policy for up to two years after a building has been mapped into a high-risk area.

What if I already have flood insurance?

Keep it!  It is recommended that all property owners keep their current insurance, even if the bank doesn’t require it.  If a policy was obtained before the effective date of the map change (September 2, 2011), policy holders are eligible to maintain the prior insurance rate for a period of time.  Do not let this policy lapse!  It guarantees your best possible insurance rate

Do I have to get flood insurance?

Purchasing flood insurance is recommended for anyone that has flooded previously and for all homes and businesses within the 100-year floodplain although that decision is left up to each individual.  If you have a federally-backed mortgage on your home, the lender will likely require you to purchase flood insurance once the updated maps are official.

Do I need to purchase flood insurance if I don’t have a mortgage?

Floods are one of the most common hazards in the United States. Your home is more likely to be affected by a flood then by fire. Flood insurance is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself from financial loss caused by flooding.

Can I get flood insurance if I'm renting?
Yes - as a resident of a community that participates in the NFIP, you can get flood insurance to cover contents of your home or business.

What other impact does being in the “Special Flood Hazard Area” have on my property?

Federal law requires that if your home is ever substantially damaged, you would be required to elevate it when rebuilding. This applies to damage from all causes, not just flooding. You would also have to elevate the home before making any substantial improvement (additions or remodels, etc.).  Substantial in both cases means work that would cost more than 50 percent of the home’s original value just prior to the damage or improvement.  These restrictions are required by the federal government.

Can anything be done to fix the flooding?

In many cases, the options for addressing flooding problems on creeks and streams are limited and expensive.   If you have a question about the status of any potential projects in your neighborhood, let us know when you call the hotline number, and we will have a contact from the Engineering Division, Public Works Department contact you to follow up.

The maps show that my property is in the floodplain, but I have never flooded.  Can I do something to change the maps?

An engineering study would need to be completed to demonstrate that the map is not correct.  This was the case both before the maps were updated as well as now that the update is complete.  Please contact us through the hotline to share any questions you may have in this regard, and the Engineering Division of the Public Works Department will follow up in more detail. 

Who do I call with more questions?

Call the Unified Government Floodplain Hotline:  913-573-8664 between the hours of 8:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Please refer to the Parcel ID# at the top of your letter when calling about this parcel.

I’ve already dealt with this before and have filled out the Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA).  Do I need to do anything else?

There are certain areas that are shown to still be in the floodplain even though the property owner may have filled out the appropriate paperwork to be shown otherwise.  Your LOMA paperwork most likely is still in effect, but please contact us at 913-573-8664 to be sure.


FEMA:  Federal Emergency Management Agency

FIRM:  Flood Insurance Rate Map

SFHA:  Special Flood Hazard Area

NFIP:  National Flood Insurance Program  

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