The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has issued updated Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) for Will County. These maps delineate the limits of floodplains throughout the County and the City of Joliet. These new FIRM maps have an effective date of February 15, 2019 and replace the old FIRM maps that were dated September 6, 1995. In general, these new maps have not significantly changed the floodplain in the City of Joliet except for a specific area near downtown Joliet. This area is roughly defined as being between the DesPlaines River on the west and Eastern Avenue on the east, and between Ruby Street on the north and Hickory Creek on the south. Many properties within these limits have been added into the floodplain based on the new February 15, 2019 FIRM maps. This area was not designated in the floodplain on the September 6, 1995 FIRM maps. In response to this new floodplain designation, the City of Joliet is working with the United States Army Corp of Engineers to design a flood wall / levy north of Ruby Street along the I & M canal that if constructed and certified as a levee will allow the City to apply to FEMA to once again remove the floodplain from this specific area of the City.
- WHAT IS THE NFIP?
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)is a program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). The City of Joliet is a member of the NFIP. The City of Joliet’s membership allows residents of the City to purchase flood insurance policies to insure their properties against damages from flooding due to their location within the 100-year floodplain. A mortgage company or lender on a property will require the owner to purchase a flood insurance policy if the property is determined to be located within the 1% annual chance flood, commonly referred to as the 100-year floodplain.
- WHAT IS A FLOODPLAIN?
Floodplains are low lying land areas, usually bordering a water body, which flood during certain storm events. FEMA has delineated areas that have a 1% chance of flooding in any given year, commonly referred to as the 100-year floodplain or Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). Areas within the SFHA are regulated by FEMA. Despite misconceptions that these areas should “only” flood once every 100 years, it is possible to have more than one 100-year flood event in a single year.
- IS MY PROPERTY IN A FLOODPLAIN?
To determine whether your property is located within or near to a floodplain visit the FEMA Map Service Center website at msc.fema.gov. On the home page enter your address, including City and State, in the search box in the upper half of the page and click the SEARCH button. Your property location will be pinned on the map. Areas in blue represent the SFHA, or 100-year floodplain, and areas in brown represent the 500-year floodplain. If your property is not located within the blue shaded area of the map, your property is outside of the 100-year floodplain. If your property is in the blue shaded area, your property is in the 100-year floodplain and you will be required to carry a flood insurance policy by your lender or mortgage company until your loan is paid off.
- WHAT IS AN ELEVATION CERTIFICATE?
An Elevation Certificate is paperwork filed with FEMA to indicate to what extent your property is in the floodplain or to prove that your property is not located within the floodplain based upon the elevation of the property. To submit an Elevation Certificate to FEMA, a topographic survey of your property must be performed by a State licensed surveyor. The City of Joliet does not perform this service for property owners. Once the survey of your property is completed, the Elevation Certificate can be submitted to FEMA by the surveyor on behalf of the property owner. The elevation certificate determination is most appropriate for properties that are located near or on the boundary line of the floodplain. The results of an Elevation Certificate can be the entire property removed from the floodplain, a portion of the property being removed from the floodplain, or none of the property being removed from the floodplain. If a portion or all of the property is determined to be outside of the floodplain, based upon the elevation of the property, then FEMA will supply the property owner with a Letter of Map Amendment (LOMA) which states the results of the Elevation Certificate. The most common reason for a property owner to have an Elevation Certificate completed and submitted to FEMA would be that your property is determined to be in the floodplain and you are being required to pay flood insurance by your lender. If the Elevation Certificate shows your property is higher in elevation than the floodplain elevation you may be able to get the flood insurance requirement removed.