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About the Floodplain Management Program

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Program Overview

Flood damage can be significantly reduced when development is not placed in harm’s way or is appropriately protected from flood hazards. Properly managed floodplains can increase property values and expand recreational opportunities, while reducing direct and indirect costs associated with flood hazards, erosion, and stormwater; improving groundwater recharge and water quality; and providing valuable wildlife habitat. Current flood data is important for community officials and the private sector to make wise land use decisions. The primary tools used to identify flood risk and manage development in flood hazard areas are Flood Insurance Studies and Flood Insurance Rate Maps. The Floodplain Management Program works with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and other partners to obtain and use the best data to create and update these essential tools. Each year, program staff work with nearly 200 communities to provide federal flood hazard mapping and risk data and assist with adopting compliant flood damage regulations. The Floodplain Management Program also serves as the state repository for flood data; coordinates efforts of federal, state, and local agencies involved in flood loss reduction programs; and, as Ohio’s coordinator of the National Flood Insurance Program, assists communities in gaining and maintaining eligibility for participation in the NFIP for the benefit of residents and business owners. Eighty-six of Ohio’s 88 counties and more than 660 cities and villages have chosen to manage their floodplains by voluntary participation in the NFIP.

Environmental, Economic, and Public Importance

Floods cost more in lives and property damage than all other natural hazards combined. Even if we don’t live in a flood hazard area, we all bear the cost of flood damages. In Ohio, floods happen nearly every year and can happen in every county. While only 15 percent of the land area in Ohio is designated as federally identified Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), Ohio’s SFHAs contain more than 130,000 structures, valued at more than $11 billion. Additionally, nearly 26% of flood damage claims come from structures outside the designated SFHA. FEMA estimates that residents and business owners save $4 for every $1 invested in flood risk reduction efforts.


The Mission of the Floodplain Management Program is to provide leadership to local governments, state agencies, and interested parties toward cooperative management of Ohio's floodplains to ensure the reduction of flood damage and the recognition of the floodplain's natural benefit. This mission is accomplished through technical assistance, public awareness, education, and development / protection standards.

Floods are a fact of life along streams & rivers. Floods occur when streams overflow their banks & spill onto the adjoining land area, called a floodplain. Loss of life & property damage can result when people build in floodplains. No county in Ohio is free from the threat of flooding. The location & severity varies according to weather & ground conditions. Large floods in Ohio, such as those experienced in 1913, 1937, 1959, 1963, 1964, & 1969 have caused billions of dollars worth of property damage & the loss of many lives. Even smaller floods wreak havoc such as the June-1990 flooding along Wegee & Pipe creeks in which 26 people perished or the March-1997 flooding along the Ohio River that resulted in 20 deaths (5 in Ohio) and thousands of dollars of damage.