Floodplain Resources

As you may know, the Fox River and other small creeks flow through South Elgin. These waterways create floodplains.  Since these areas are more likely to flood, special rules apply.  The Village is working hard to provide flood information to you, in order to reduce the damage caused by flooding.  
 
Flood InsuranceIf you do not have flood insurance, talk to your insurance agent.  Most homeowner’s insurance policies do not cover damage from floods. Flood insurance is only available in a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) participating community. South Elgin works hard on floodplain management and is in the NFIP. Check your policy to ensure you have adequate coverage.  Usually these policies cover the building structure, not contents. Contents coverage ensures your belongings and can be added to a policy.  There is a 30-day waiting period before flood insurance coverage becomes effective. Plan ahead; do not wait until a flood is predicted before purchasing insurance.  Within the floodplain, flood insurance is mandatory if using a federally regulated/insured bank for a loan.  Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) identify areas at high risk of flooding.  The Community Development Department maintains current FIRMs and is able to assist interested parties in determining where a particular property is located within the FIRM.

Flood Hazard Areas6% of the Village is in two 100-year floodplains.  At the western edge of the Village is the Otter Creek Floodplain and in the center of the Village is the Fox River Floodplain.

Overbank flooding is the general type of flooding caused by Otter Creek.  During a normal flood event 6 inches of rain in a 24 hour time period jeopardizes the Creek’s banks and overflows along the western edge of the Thornwood Subdivision.  Flooding on the Fox River is normally a much slower event and can be caused by rain further north as it makes its way to the river for eventual discharge into the Illinois River.  

In 2007, areas along the Fox River and Otter Creek saw flooding due to heavy rainfall over an extended period of time.  In 2008, severe flooding occurred due to heavy rainfall in a short period of time.  View real time water levels from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).   Information on whether your property is in the 100-year floodplain can be obtained by Paul Kruse in the Community Development Department. Maps and other flood information are available.  The Village has Elevation Certificates for new development completed after 1987.  
 
Natural & Beneficial Functions of the Floodplain Floodplains play a valuable role in providing natural and beneficial functions to the area. Floodplains that are relatively undisturbed provide a wide range of benefits to both human and natural systems. These benefits provide aesthetic pleasure and function to provide active processes such as filtering nutrients. The natural areas surrounding Otter Creek and the parks along the Fox River are used as a means to filter run-off so that these areas can maintain bio-diversity and ecosystem sustainability. Both enhance waterfowl, fish and other wildlife habitats and provide feeding/breeding grounds. They also provide natural erosion control and open space so further flooding damage is reduced.   Citizen’s Guide to Preserving the Fox River provides valueable information.
 
Flood Safety Tips The following common sense guidelines can help protect you from the dangers of flooding: 

  1. Do not drive through a flooded area. More people drown in cars than anywhere else. Do not drive around barriers.
  2. Do not walk through flowing water. Currents can be deceptive. 6” of water can knock you off your feet.
  3. Stay away from power lines and electrical wires. If your house is about to be flooded, turn off the power at the service box. Electrical current can travel through water.
  4. Be alert to gas leaks. Turn off the gas to your house before it floods.  If you smell gas, report it to Nicor. Do not use candles, lanterns or open flames if you smell gas or are unsure if your gas has been shut off. 
  5. Keep children away from flood water, ditches, culverts & storm drains. Flood water can carry unimaginable items that have dislodged themselves. Culverts may suck smaller people into them rendering them helpless. 
  6. Clean everything that has been wet. Flood water will be contaminated with sewage and other chemicals which pose severe health threats. 
  7. Do not use gas engines, such as generators, or charcoal fires indoors during power outages. Carbon monoxide exhaust can pose serious health hazards. 
Flood Warning SystemMany times, flooding along the Fox River can be predicted in advance, giving ample warning for preparation and evacuation.  However, in the event of a flash flood due to a large rain event, you may be the first to notice the oncoming situation and have only hours to execute your plan.  Notify the Police Department if significant flooding occurs.  The Village’ Emergency Alert System will be activated.  Tune your radio to WRMN 1410AM for local weather service updates. You will also see regular interruption on local radio and television station advising you of the situation. 

Floodplain Permit RequirementsAll development within the 100-year floodplain (including new buildings, filling, excavation, fences, etc.) is required to obtain a permit.  Applications must be made prior to doing any work.  

Substantial Improvement/Damage RequirementsDevelopment within the floodplain must follow the Kane County Stormwater Ordinance.  NFIP requires that if the cost of improvements to a building or the cost to repair damages (from any cause) to a building exceeds 50% of the market value of a building (excluding land), the entire building must be brought up to current floodplain management standards. Building improvement projects include remodeling, additions, and repairs. Additionally, the cost of currently planned improvements will be added to the cost of previously made improvements and compared to the existing market value to determine if the improvements exceed 50% of the structure’s value.  

Property Protection MeasuresIf your property is susceptible to flooding, there are many flood damage reduction measures you can employ:

  1. Apply watertight seals to brick and block walls to protect against low-level flooding.
  2. Elevate utilities such as air conditioners, water heaters and other major appliances to higher floors or on a raised platform. 
  3. Temporarily move furniture and valuables to higher floors.
  4. Elevate or relocate the entire structure, if feasible. 
The Illinois Association for Floodplain & Stormwater Management website provides information on flood protection and management.  To help protect your property, the Community Development Department will provide advice on retrofitting your property.

Help Maintain the Village’s Drainage SystemKeeping ditches and streams free of debris can dramatically improve the run-off capacity of low-lying areas and greatly reduce the occurrence of blockage that contributes to flooding. It is illegal to dump materials into a waterway and violators may be fined. If you see someone dumping or if you see debris in the drainage system, contact Community Development.

If you have flooding or drainage problems on your property, Village staff can provide on-site assistance to help you. Please contact Paul Kruse at 847-741-3894.