Floodplain Information

Lyon County, Kansas

Floodplain Management FAQs

1. When do I need a permit?

Virtually any man-made change in a flood area requires a permit. A book by FEMA on this topic exempts some minor activities, such as putting in a post for your mailbox. A room addition for a house built in a flood area will require a permit. A structure in a flood area will not need a permit to re-roof. A roof is generally above flood waters. The added-on room cannot only be flooded; it can displace flood water that will have to go someplace else. If you have a question, contact the Lyon County Floodplain Manager or the Kansas Department of Agriculture Division of Water Resources.

2. How do I get a permit?

For many things, a local permit can be obtained from the Lyon County courthouse. Lyon County must verify that all proper state and federal permits are received before the county permit is issued.

In many cases, state and federal permits are not required. A pole barn for agriculture in a flood area may only need a local permit. Building a house in a floodway area will require a permit from the Kansas Department of Agriculture Division of Water Resources and possibly the Corps of Engineers.

3. What is a FIRM?

FIRM is short for Flood Insurance Rate Map. These maps show all of the flood hazard areas and floodway areas in Lyon County. You can view these maps on the Internet or at the county courthouse or the Emporia Public Library.

4. What is the difference between a special flood hazard area and a floodway?

Areas closer to larger streams and rivers are classified as a floodway. Floodways usually have a greater volume of water moving at a greater velocity and carry more debris.

Anything that impedes water flow in a floodway can slow it down. By slowing down floodwaters, the floods will remain longer and can also cause a rise in floodwaters upstream.

5. What special flood hazards do we have here in Lyon County?

Lyon County is subject to riverine flooding with the Cottonwood, Neosho, and Marais Des Cygnes Rivers. We have watershed dams in Lyon County that could breach. County zoning rules prohibit building downstream from a watershed dam. The Flint Hills’ topography makes this an area where flash floods can also be a danger.

6. If I want flood insurance, how do I go about it?

Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Many local agents can help you sign up for flood insurance.

7. If I don’t want to buy flood insurance, can I be forced to purchase insurance?

Flood insurance is a federally backed program. Most federally backed mortgages require flood insurance if a property is in a flood area. One option some people look at is a LOMA.

8. What is a LOMA?

LOMA stands for a Letter of Map Amendment. If a property is shown to be in a flood hazard area, you may be required to buy flood insurance. If you feel the map is in error because your house is on a hill and too high for floods to reach it, you can try to have the map changed. A certificate of elevation for the lowest living floor area by a licensed surveyor will show if your house is above the flood area. Then another form called a LOMA is filled out requesting FEMA to change or amend the flood map.

9. What is a 100-year flood?

FEMA regulates a level of flood that has a one percent (1%) chance of happening each and every year. Those are the flood areas shown as “A, AE, AH” zones on our flood maps. Statistically, such a flood can happen more often than once every 100 years. Terms used now are ‘base flood’ or ‘one percent (1%) annual chance flood’.

10. What is an A-zone?

FEMA’s FIRM maps show different flood zone areas on them. AE zones have been studied, and base flood elevations are determined. AH, zones involve shallow flooding areas. X zones have only a 0.2 % annual chance of flooding. Some of our A zones have not been studied fully, and Base flood elevations have not been determined.

What you should know

Flooding in our County occurs along the Neosho and Cottonwood Rivers and along numerous streams. Ice jams, severe storms, snowmelt, and log jams can contribute to flooding. Flash floods along some of the smaller streams can happen with little or no warning. On August 30, 2003, there were 6 people killed in the Jacob Creek flood on the Kansas Turnpike 11 miles south of Emporia.

Your property may be high enough it has not flooded recently. This does not mean it can’t be flooded in the future. The next flood could be worse. If you own property in the floodplain odds are it will be flood damaged at some point. This flyer is to advise you about how to protect yourself and your property.

The first step is to determine your flood risk. Several ways to learn if your property or property you are considering buying is in a flood area. The Emporia Public Library has copies of the Flood Insurance Rate Maps from FEMA. If you live in unincorporated Lyon County you can inquire at the Floodplain Management Office in the Lyon County Courthouse Room #101, phone 620-341-3471.

If you own property in or near one of the flood areas here in Lyon County there are some things you can do for yourself. Don’t dump trash in to stream or ditch. Keep the ditch or stream clear of brush. This will improve the drainage so that water will drain away from your property.

Before building, regrading, or altering your property check with the Floodplain Management Office. A permit may be needed. Floodplain Development Permits

There are a number of services available from the Floodplain Management Office. You can get a free map showing the flood areas on your property. Get advice on how to floodproof through wet floodproofing, dry floodproofing, or elevating a structure. More details about this can also be found in they “Lyon County Floodplain Collection” of books at the Emporia Public Library.

The Lyon County Floodplain Manager also has copies on file of elevation certificates and Letters of Map Amendment. A previous owner of your property may have had one of these documents prepared. These documents are available free of charge as well to insurance companies.

Flood Insurance is offered through the Federal Government’s National Flood Insurance Program. At the Lyon County Courthouse we have a list of insurance agents from this area who offer flood insurance. The only way to get flood insurance is through the NFIP program from an insurance agent. Homeowner’s insurance does not cover damage from floods. Some residents of Lyon County have had to purchase flood insurance because it was required by a bank in order to get a loan. Most of those kinds of loans only cover the structure. A separate policy may be needed to cover furniture and contents.

WARNING: The #1 natural disaster isn’t covered by homeowners insurance.

Floods have caused billions of dollars in flood losses in the U.S. over the years. Being insured against this possibility is one of your best forms of protection. Since flooding is not covered under your homeowner’s insurance policy, the best way to protect your home is through the National Flood Insurance Program.

The following information comes from the National Flood Insurance Guide booklet available from FEMA.

After reading the information here contact your insurance agent or your insurance company and set up an appointment. If your agent does not write flood insurance policies, you can contact FEMA and be put in touch with an agent that does. The Lyon County Floodplain Manager has a list of local insurance agents who can help you.

Remember, floods occur in all 50 states. And you are not covered until you’re flood covered.

Floods usually strike without warning. With construction of more roads, shopping malls, residential areas, and industrial developments the chances of flooding only increases.


Millions of homes are flooded every year. People lost their belongings, personal mementos and they never saw it coming.

Homeowners insurance does not cover flooding. Many people think Federal Disaster Assistance will cover them. It won’t! To be eligible the President must first declare a flood a Federal Disaster. And any assistance you receive is usually a loan that has to be repaid with interest.

Flood insurance premiums are determined by where you live, the amount of coverage you choose, your deductible, and the age, elevation, and type of structure.