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Flood Plain Information

NEW: Changes to the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP)

On April 1, 2016 the Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act was implemented, resulting in changes to the National Flood Insurance Program. Residents interested in learning more can view a short video highlighting major changes to the program by clicking here. Below are additional resources outlining changes to the NFIP:

UPDATE: Village accepted into CRS Program, entered at Class 6

The Village of Winnetka is pleased to announce their acceptance into the National Flood Insurance Program's Community Rating System. CRS is a national incentive program that results in discounted premium rates for flood insurance measured on Village participation in various floodplain management activities. Such activities include providing flood protection information/assistance, maintaining flood data, implementing outreach projects,  and many more.

The Village is entering the program at a Class Six Rating which affords 20% discount on flood insurance rates for Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) policy holders within the Village. Non-SFHA policy holders will be discounted 10% based on the current rating. Those discounts provide an incentive for new flood protection activities that can help save lives and property in the event of a flood.  Discounts are applied automatically however those with flood insurance are encouraged to contact their agent for more information.

About the Flood Plain

A flood plain is a land area that will flood in a storm event that has a 1% chance of occurring in any given year. Flood plains are designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and cover parts of Winnetka. Much of the Village west of downtown was originally marsh land. The Skokie Marsh was actually reclaimed and filled in the 1920’s and 1930’s, but the marsh area encroached into what are now residential areas. A flood plain is susceptible to be inundated with floodwater in the event of a major storm. For a house built in the flood plain, a 100-year storm event potential translates into a 26% chance of flooding occurring over the life of a typical 30-year household mortgage. FEMA commonly refers to the 100-year flood plain as the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA).

Within these high risk areas, the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) flood plain management regulations must be enforced within the SFHA by the Village, as a condition of participation in the flood insurance program. All home and business owners within an SFHA (with mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders) are required to buy flood insurance. Homeowners with questions about flood plain locations and insurance can view FEMA’s maps directly online.

The flood plain is composed of a flood way and a flood fringe. The flood way is typically determined to be the channel of a river or stream and the overbank areas adjacent to the channel. The flood fringe is the area to either side of the flood way that is subject to flooding, but conveys little or no flow. Most of the flooding experienced in Winnetka is not river flooding because the river water is contained through a system of levees. Most often, this community experiences flash flooding, which is less predictable than river flooding. There is little time to prepare for a flash flood, so pre-planning is essential for safety and home protection.

Village of Winnetka Resources, Services and Contact Information

The Village of Winnetka has produced several documents to advise people about the flood hazard, flood insurance and flood protection.

As a public service, the Village of Winnetka will continue to provide you with the following information upon request:

  • Whether a property is located in or out of the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) as shown on the current Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) of the Village.  Please note, in many cases, this determination can only be conclusive with a topographic survey of the property in question.  If there is a topographic survey on file with the Village of Winnetka, we will utilize that information, in addition to the FIRMs.  Otherwise, the property owner would be obligated to provide a copy of a topographic survey for analysis.  The Village of Winnetka does not perform engineering/surveying services for private entities.
  • Additional flood insurance data for a site, such as the FIRM zone and the base flood elevation (BFE), if shown on the FIRM.
  • Provision of flood insurance purchase requirements that can help people who need a mortgage or loan for a property in the SFHA.
  • Information on non-floodplain drainage issues and historical flooding, if they are on file.
  • Access to available completed FEMA Elevation Certificates for new or substantially improved structures constructed in the 100-year flood plain.

For inquiries regarding the flood plain or properties within it, please provide the Village with the street address of the property in question.  Inquiries can be directed to the Engineering Division of the Village of Winnetka, and can be made in person, by telephone, or by e-mail.  The Engineering Division is located at the Village Yards, 1390 Willow Road, Winnetka.  While any of our Engineering Staff can answer your questions, our Flood Plain Manager is Susan Chen, Assistant Village Engineer, who can be reached at (847) 716-3532 or  For general questions or concerns regarding local flooding, drainage issues, sewer back-ups, or to schedule on on-site visit, contact 847-716-3568, and your call can be directed to the appropriate Public Works staff.

You can obtain copies of a FIRM, view a  FIRM online and gain access to many other sources of flood plain information by visiting the National Flood Insurance Program.  Also, the Village has an Interactive Mapping site. When visiting the site, click on LAYERS and select WINNETKA, and then select either FEMA Flood Hazard Advanced Legend or Basic Legend, and an overview of the entire town with the FIRM’s overlaid will be presented.  In order to find information about a specific address, type in the address under FIND, located in the upper left hand corner of the page.  The Village Yards facility also has paper copies of the FIRM’s for viewing purposes in the Engineering Department.

To obtain any paper copies of information, a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) form must be completed with the request.  The FOIA can be obtained at the Yards or online by going here.

Rainfall Data Websites

Cook County Precipitation Network - Village of Winnetka is Station #2

Recent Rainfall Data

Historic Rainfall Data

Flood Plain Resources

Click below to view the Village of Winnetka's Informational Flood Hazard Pamphlets, prepared by the Public Works Engineering Department.

Repetitive Loss Area Analysis

Click below to view the Village of Winnetka's Repetitive Loss Area Analysis Reports, prepared by Baxter and Woodman Consulting Engineers.

FEMA Resources for Residents

Additional Links



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