Winter Quarterly NFIP Newsletter

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December 29, 2023


National Floodplain Insurance Program Newsletter

We have new phone numbers- Please update our contact information

Contact update

The Floodplain Community Assistance Program staff have new phone numbers. Please update your
contact information so you can continue to get in touch with us. Our email addresses have remained

Ken Bouma: 515-783-5811

Jason Conn: 515-782-8104

Adrienne Ricehill: 515-829-2925

We're Coming to A City Near You!

Since the 1980s, the State of Iowa and FEMA have had a long-standing and effective partnership that recognizes the value of state-led community assistance in reducing flood losses and disaster suffering. Through cooperative agreements, such as the Community Assistance Program–State Support Services Element (CAP-SSSE), FEMA has provided funding to DNR’s Floodplain Management Section to help support communities in implementing the requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). This funding mechanism has allowed the state to provide technical assistance to support communities in adopting, administering, and enforcing effective flood loss reduction standards for land use and development and implement statewide actions that reduce the damage and costs of flooding.


FEMA’s CAP-SSSE program goals detailed below provide the framework for guiding the activities of the DNR Floodplain Management Section as we work to meet the vision of the NFIP and the goals of FEMA to further our nation in emergency management, disaster preparedness, and climate resilience.

Click here to continue reading this article.

Why is Flood Insurance So Important

The Importance of Flood Insurance

Most of Iowa has been experiencing a drought for the last few years. The National Weather Service’s November 16th Drought Monitor indicated that 84% of the state was currently under some level of drought. When communities experience prolonged droughts it's normal for property owners to be indifferent or even complacent about their risk of flooding. Even during this year’s drought, several
communities along the Mississippi River experienced flooding in late April resulting in dozens of claims made to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).

It might be no surprise that Iowa and many other states across the country have experienced a decrease in NFIP policyholders. FEMA’s data shows the number of NFIP policies has decreased by over 7% year-to-date. More troubling is policies have been steadily declining for several years. For example, in 2019 Iowa had over 13,000 NFIP policies. As of last month, the total number dipped below 10,000.

There’s not one single reason that’s causing NFIP policies to decrease. The private market has started offering flood insurance as an alternative to the NFIP. Additionally, FEMA implemented a new risk rating methodology, known as Risk Rating 2.0 in 2021 which has caused annual premiums for some policyholders to increase. With less flood insurance coverage many homeowners and businesses are potentially exposed to flood damage.

Floods are the most frequent and the costliest disaster across the United States. Nearly 90% of the nation’s natural disasters involve some level of flooding. According to FEMA, just one inch of flood water inside your home could cost up to $25,000 in damage. It’s important to note that a standard homeowner’s policy does not cover damages caused by riverine or overland flooding. Flood insurance is
the only mechanism available to property owners that protects them against flood damages.

One of the benefits flood insurance coverage provides is policyholders can make a claim even when there isn’t a federal disaster declaration. As long as floodwaters partially or completely inundate two or more properties of normally dry land, one of those being the policyholder’s; a claim can be submitted for the reimbursement of damages incurred by floods. Having flood insurance coverage doesn’t make
property owners ineligible for federal disaster assistance either. FEMA encourages policyholders to apply for disaster assistance for expenses not covered under their flood insurance. Expenses related to temporary housing costs and replacing medication could be covered through disaster assistance.

Homeowners, business owners, and renters located within a community participating in the NFIP can purchase building and contents coverage. Even owners of buildings that are under construction can purchase flood insurance through the NFIP. Property owners can contact their insurance agent who provides home and auto coverage to see if they sell flood insurance. Or, property owners can find providers by visiting to purchase a policy.

The NFIP provides coverage for most buildings and their contents. Building coverage includes protection of the structure and its foundation, electrical systems including furnaces, A/C units, and water heaters, permanent floor coverings such as carpeting, built-in appliances, and debris removal. A separate policy can be purchased for personal content. Content coverage includes protection of personal belongings such as clothing, furniture, washers, dryers, deep freezers, and the food stored inside, and valuable items such as artwork and jewelry up to $2,500.

It’s important to note that building coverage is limited in basements, which the NFIP defines as any area of a building that’s below grade on all sides. Walk-out basements are not considered a basement because it is not below ground level on all four sides. Personal items such as furniture, and electronics, as well as improvements like finished flooring and finished walls are not covered if located in basements.

Flood insurance coverage is important for property owners to consider given that 40% of claims made to the NFIP come from buildings located outside of the Special Flood Hazard Area (i.e. 100-yr floodplain). Property owners should not rely solely on disaster assistance to help recover from flooding. Federal disaster assistance comes in the form of a loan that must be repaid with interest. FEMA states that from 2016 to 2022 the average disaster payment was $3,000 while the average flood insurance claim was $66,000. Considering that just a few inches of water inside your home or business can cost tens of thousands of dollars in damage, buying flood insurance is a wise financial decision.

Real Time Technical Assistance Opportunities Available


As a FEMA Cooperating Technical Partner (CTP), the Iowa DNR has funding available to develop high-level mitigation solutions through its Real Time Technical Assistance (RTTA) program. If your community has experienced repeated and significant flooding and is interested in exploring mitigation measures to reduce or eliminate that flood hazard, it could be eligible to become an RTTA project.

The Iowa DNR and Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department (HSEMD), as part of the Iowa Flood Risk Management Team, meet regularly with representatives from state and federal agencies to discuss communities interested in such assistance. Together these agencies can provide
technical resources to assist communities in understanding their flood hazards and options for mitigation, including but not limited to:

 Carrying out feasibility analyses and technical studies to help advance projects in your Hazard Mitigation Plan.  
 Collecting data and performing modeling scenarios for theoretical flood impacts and mitigation measures. 
 Completing enhanced flood risk products.   

Most often, this technical assistance can be provided to a community at no cost, though it may require a commitment to assist in gathering the information required for the analysis. Collectively, the state and federal agencies can provide modeling, planning technical assistance, and assist with gathering information required to determine project feasibility and to conduct a benefit-cost analysis.

There is no financial assistance for implementation or construction, but with the technical information provided through the RTTA, communities will be better positioned to apply for financial assistance available under an array of programs such as those found within FEMA’s Hazard Mitigation Assistance

If your community has an interest in benefiting from this Real Time Technical Assistance, a community representative is invited to complete the brief questionnaire at:

Questions about this Real Time Technical Assistance opportunity may be directed to:

Chris Kahle, Floodplain Mapping Coordinator
Iowa Department of Natural Resources
319-300-5719 or

Jim Marwedel, State Hazard Mitigation Planner
Iowa Homeland Security and Emergency Management Department
515-218-4943 or

SAVE THE DATE- CRS Training Opportunity

Save the date


The Iowa DNR and our counterparts in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and FEMA Region 7 will host a Community Rating Symposium (CRS) Symposium on April 15th and 16th, 2024 at the University of Nebraska-Omaha’s Barbara Weitz Community Engagement Center (6001 Dodge St. Omaha, NE).

The CRS is a voluntary program that recognizes and encourages communities to adopt higher regulatory floodplain management standards and promote awareness of flood hazards in their communities. The more activities communities undertake to reduce flood losses, FEMA awards flood insurance policyholders with premium discounts.

This CRS Symposium will allow communities to learn about new national program trends. More importantly, it will allow local officials to come together and learn how other communities implement CRS activities and other flood hazard mitigation best practices.

We also are encouraging local officials from communities that currently don’t participate in the CRS to attend so they can hear from CRS communities about the application process and common activities that many CRS communities implement.

Keep an eye out for more information as we near April 15th including the agenda and schedule.