Flood Protection Information

Flood Protection

Street Blocked off Due to FloodingFlooding of lakes and stream systems will continue to be a common and natural occurrence, in the absence of artificial flood control measures. Streams and lakes overflow to occupy adjacent natural floodplains almost annually as a result of late winter-early spring snowmelt or snowmelt-rainfall or in response to spring, summer, and fall thunderstorms.

Damage from this flooding is largely a consequence of the failure to recognize and understand the relationships that should exist between the use of land in both floodland and non-floodland areas of Kenosha County and the natural behavior of riverine and alluvial systems. Unnecessary occupancy of the floodlands by flood-vulnerable land uses, together with development-induced changes in the flow characteristics, has produced or exacerbated the flood problems in some areas of these watersheds.

This information page has been prepared to make you aware of any flood hazards in your area, and suggest possible actions you can take to protect yourself. 

FEMA Flood Mapping

FEMA has implemented a Map Modernization Initiative to upgrade the map development process, so flood insurance rate maps can be created and distributed in a GIS format. The best available terrain data is used in the mapping process. This results in higher quality mapping products than were previously available. 

This new digital product is called a Digital Flood Insurance Rate Map (DFIRM). Where available, it is displayed on FEMA’s interactive mapping application

Kenosha County is in the final map production stages and anticipates a countywide map revision reflecting the most current modeling effort in the near future. Paper copies of the current, official, Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) are available for review at the Kenosha County Division of Planning and Development.

If your property appears in a FEMA - designated flood zone, and you do not already have flood insurance, you should contact your insurance provider or call the National Flood Insurance Program’s toll-free number at 1-888-379-9531, or visit the following website for more information on flood insurance see FEMA’s Flood Insurance Program. Flood insurance is available for residents of the unincorporated area of Kenosha County and the incorporated areas that participate in the National Flood Insurance Program.

The National Flood Insurance Program’s FloodSmart Campaign has increased public awareness about flood risks and the importance of flood insurance protection. At FloodSmart.gov, you can enter your property address and see just how much damage flooding can cause, assess your individual flood risk and learn more about the claims process.

Kenosha County Interactive Mapping

To determine if your property is within the 100-year locally zoned floodplain, you can use the Kenosha County Interactive mapping application. The 100-year floodplain boundary is the boundary of a flood with a one-percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. The zoning district applicable to the 100-year floodplain zoning is the FPO Floodplain Overlay District

The Kenosha County Division of Planning and Development does prepare formal floodplain determination letters for a fee. This letter includes both federal and local data in the determination. If you are interested in obtaining a formal floodplain determination letter, please contact a Land Use Specialist at 262-857-1895.

NOTE: Kenosha County floodplain zoning maps were developed to reflect the best available data and show the areas to be regulated. However, it is recommended that the floodplain boundary on your property be field verified by a professional land surveyor.

Kenosha County Flood Mitigation Plan

In 2001, Kenosha County adopted a Flood Mitigation Plan (PDF), which sets forth the most appropriate, feasible, and effective flood mitigation strategy for the county.

In 1994, Kenosha County initiated a plan to help people move out of the flood-prone area that was mapped as the 100-year floodplain of the Fox River. The Fox River Flood Mitigation Program (Floodplain Buyout) was developed to reduce flood damage and the potential for injury to affected persons by acquiring and demolishing residential structures and relocating displaced residents from the 1% annual probability (100-year) floodplain of the Fox River. 

For buy-out information, call the Kenosha County Housing Authority at 262-857-1843.

Floodplain and Shoreland Management Notes

Wisconsin Bureau of Watershed Management (1994 to date) newsletter provides updates to local zoning officials concerning state and federal policies on floodplains and shorelines.

ReadyWisconsin is a joint initiative of Wisconsin Emergency Management and the Wisconsin Citizen Corps. It is funded by US Homeland Security. The project localizes the citizen preparedness message with information, materials and resources customized to Wisconsin’s state, regional and local emergency preparedness. 

ReadyWisconsin asks individuals to do four key things:

  • Get an emergency supply kit
  • Make a family emergency plan
  • Be informed about the different types of emergencies that could occur and their appropriate responses
  • Get involved in emergency preparedness and response in their own communities

In addition to existing Ready materials, ReadyWisconsin has created new materials for both adults and children with puzzles, games and more:

  • Localized hazard-specific fact sheets
  • Localized hazard-specific public service announcements
  • Localized posters

ReadyWisconsin serves as a one-stop shop for citizen preparedness information. It also provides links to other relevant national, state and volunteer agencies.

Current Watches, Warnings & Advisories

The Advanced Hydrologic Prediction Service (AHPS) is a program in NOAA’s National Weather Service designed to provide improved river and flood forecasting and water information. AHPS provides a suite of graphical and numeric products online to assist community leaders and emergency managers in making better life and cost-saving decisions about evacuations and movement of property before flooding occurs. 

Current gauge station data is available. Forecasts for the Fox River near New Munster are issued as needed during times of high water. Track stream flows and rainfall amounts for your local community with continuously updated gauge readings on the USGS website.

Wisconsin Emergency Management coordinates effective disaster response and recovery efforts in support of local governments. Through planning, training and exercising, we prepare ourselves, our citizens and response personnel to minimize the loss of lives and property. The process of emergency management involves four phases: mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention Emergency Flood Preparedness and Response provides info, so know how to protect your personal health and safety during and after a flood.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation offers travel information and alerts. Dial 511 for free real-time travel conditions.

Drainage System Maintenance

Keeping smaller ditches and streams free of debris can dramatically improve the run-off capacity of low-lying areas. This greatly reduces the occurrence of blockage that significantly contributes to flooding. It is illegal to dump materials into a waterway and violators may be fined. 

If you see someone in the act of dumping or see debris in one of our waterways, please contact the Kenosha County Division of Planning and Development at 262-857-1895.

Flood Insurance

If you do not have flood insurance, talk to your insurance agent. Most homeowners’ insurance policies do not cover damage from floods. Flood insurance is available to those participating communities in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Because of our floodplain management programs that attempt to protect us from multiple flooding hazards, Kenosha County is part of the NFIP. Residents are able to obtain flood insurance.

Be sure to check your policy to ensure you have adequate coverage. Usually, these policies cover the building structure, but not the contents. 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 flood insurance. If you are building inside the floodplain, purchasing flood insurance is mandatory if you use a federally regulated/insured bank for a loan.

For more information about flood insurance go to: www.floodsmart.gov/ 

Natural & Beneficial Functions

Floodplains play a valuable role in providing natural and beneficial functions in Kenosha County. Relatively undisturbed floodplains 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 Fox River and Des Plaines River floodplains help to filter runoff from agricultural and urban landscapes, so these areas can maintain bio-diversity and ecosystem sustainability. Floodplains enhance waterfowl, fish and other wildlife habitats and provide feeding/breeding grounds. They provide natural erosion control and open space, so further flooding damage does not occur.

Flood Safety

The following common sense guidelines can help you from the dangers of flooding:

  • Do not drive through a flooded area. More people drown in cars than anywhere else. Do not drive around barriers.
  • Do not walk through flowing water. Currents can be deceptive. Six inches of water can knock you off your feet.
  • 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. Electrocution is the 2nd leading cause of death during floods.
  • Be alert to gas leaks. Turn off the gas to your house before it floods. If you smell gas, report it to a Village official or your gas company. Do not use candles, lanterns or open flames if you smell gas or are unsure if your gas has been shut off.
  • Keep children away from the flood waters, ditches, culverts and storm drains. Flood waters can carry unimaginable items that have dislodged themselves. Culverts may suck smaller people into them rendering them helpless.
  • Clean everything that has been wet. Flood water will be contaminated with sewage and other chemicals which pose severe health threats.
  • Look out for animals, especially snakes. Small animals that have been flooded out of their home may seek shelter in yours.
  • Do not use gas engines, such as generators, or charcoal fires indoors during power outages. Carbon monoxide exhaust can pose serious health hazards.

Floodplain Permit Requirements

Construction or placement of fill within the 100-year floodplain is not allowed.  In some limited circumstances, certain activities may be permitted, but require advance approval from the Division of Planning & Development.  Applications must be made prior to doing any work in a floodplain area. 

Please contact the Division of Planning and Development to receive all the information you will need in order to properly develop in a floodplain area at 262-857-1895. You may also report any illegal development activities to that number.

Property Protection Measures

If your property is susceptible to flooding, there are many flood damage reduction measures you can employ.

  • Watertight seals can be applied to brick and block walls to protect against low-level flooding.
  • Utilities such as heating and air conditioning systems, water heaters and other major appliances can be elevated to higher floors in the structure or on raised platforms.
  • Temporary measures such as moving furniture and other valuables to higher floors or sandbagging exterior openings will also help.
  • Elevating or relocating the entire structure may also be a feasible option.

Flood Resources

The following resources are available to affected Kenosha County Residents:

  • For emergency evacuation: call 911
  • Reporting flood damage: call Emergency Management at 262-605-7926 to compile information.
  • Red Cross Shelter information: call the Red Cross representative at 800-236-8680.
  • Road Closings information: call Kenosha County Public Works at 262-857-1870.
  • Mold remediation contractor information
  • Sandbags may be available at the local town or village halls during high water events:
    • In Salem, call 262-843-2313. 
    • In Silver Lake, call 262-889-4308. 
    • In Wheatland, call 262-537-4340.
  • Tetanus vaccines for open wounds from water-contaminated objects: 
    • Call the Kenosha County Public Health Clinic at 262-605-6770.
  • Clean-Up Kits are available from: 
    • Office of Planning & Development (Kenosha County Center, located at 19600 75th Street in Bristol)
    • American Red Cross (414-303-7609)
    • Salvation Army (262-564-0286)
  • Well Water Test Kits are available from: 
    • Kenosha County Public Health (8600 Sheridan Road, Suite 600) - 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Monday through Friday
    • Office of Planning and Development in the Kenosha County Center (19600 75th Street in Bristol)

Additional Information