Flooding is the most predictable natural hazard, yet Illinois continues to suffer economic losses due to flooding. The first step to reduce economic and personal losses is to accurately show where flooding is likely to occur. Coordinated Hazard Assessment and Mapping Program (CHAMP) staff, in cooperation with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, Office of Water Resources, have produced updated digital maps showing areas prone to flooding in 75 Illinois counties, which will be finalized by 2012. These Flood Insurance Rate Maps show the areas that have a 1 percent chance of inundation in any given year. Communities can use these maps to avoid putting citizens at risk by steering development away from high flood-risk areas.
The CHAMP team takes the message a step further. Working with University of Illinois Extension, the team has provided data for mitigation planning in four counties. Mitigation plans are the basis for FEMA funding for community projects that reduce exposure to flood losses. The CHAMP staff will continue to partner with FEMA in the five-year Risk MAP program, which includes extensive outreach initiatives on a watershed basis. CHAMP staff will collaborate with Extension on these outreach efforts to inform the public about flood hazards and alternatives for mitigating risk. The ultimate goals are to save lives, reduce property loss, and minimize economic disruption.