Flood Protection

What We're Doing About It

Flood Protection Assistance comes in many forms. Rock Island County has implemented a variety of flood protection activities. These include:

  • The Rock Island County Floodplain Ordinance is based on the State of Illinois Model Floodplain Ordinance.
  • Instituting a regular inspection and cleaning program for the ditches and channels.
  • Making sure new construction is protected from flooding.
  • Preserving flood-prone areas as open space.
  • Educating Staff. We have two Certified Floodplain Managers (CFM) on staff.
  • Providing one-on-one site visits to discuss possible hazards, flood protection measures and/or financial assistance.
  • Providing a host of reference materials on flood protection for homes and businesses.

The Rock Island and Moline Public Libraries also have information and reference materials on how you can help protect yourself. Also view our downloads page for additional reference materials.

Protecting Yourself From Flooding

If you have experienced water problems in the past, you shouldn't wait for the problem to go away. Here are some things you can do:

  • Request a Flood Protection Assistance Visit from one of our Certified Floodplain Managers to discuss possible hazards, flood protection measures and/or financial assistance.
  • Read about floodproofing and get more information from the Library on the measures appropriate for your building.
  • Check out flood insurance coverage. Contact your local insurance agent or view the website Flood Smart for more information.
  • Read about the County's construction and dumping regulations. Follow these rules and report violations to the Zoning and Building Department at 309-558-3771.

Flood Protection Assistance Visits

Rock Island County has two Certified Floodplain Managers (CFM) on staff. They are available for site visits, phone calls, email communication, and/or visit our office to get answers to your questions. People can become informed most effectively through direct, one-on-one communication with an expert. Research has found that people are more likely to undertake activities to reduce the flood hazard to their property if they can get reliable information right in their own community. We can provide localized information and advice for addressing local drainage problems, retrofitting existing structures or properly locating and building new structures. There are many ways to protect a property from flood damage, including, but not limited to:

  • Demolish the building or relocate it out of harms way.
  • Elevate the building above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) to the Flood Protection Elevation (FPE).
  • Elevate damage-prone components, such as furnace or air conditioning unit.
  • Dry floodproof the building so water cannot get into it.
  • Wet floodproof portions of the building so water won't cause damage.
  • Construct a berm or redirect drainage away from the building.
  • Maintain nearby streams, ditches, and storm drains so debris does not obstruct them.
  • Correct sewer backup problems.

The objective of this service is to have a knowledgeable person directly advise a property owner about whether these measures would be appropriate for the owner's situation. Different measures are appropriate for different flood hazards, building types and building conditions.

Elevation of New & Substantially Improved Structures

"New", "substantially damaged" and "substantially improved" floodplain structures minimize damage by elevating the lowest floor of occupied areas two feet above the 1% chance or Base Flood Elevation (BFE) as required by our ordinance. Substantially improved structures are those where the cost of reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition or other improvements equals or exceeds 50% of the building's market value. Substantially improved structures are subject to the same elevation standards as new structures. Structures can be elevated on foundations with flow through openings, walls or piers. Lower levels are limited to building access and minor storage. No habitable space is allowed and a non-conversion agreement is required with annual inspections.


Floodproofing a house means altering it so floodwaters will not cause damage. Different floodproofing techniques are appropriate for different types of buildings. Use the following as a guideline:

  • If your house is on a slab foundation, investigate a low floodwall, berm or "dry floodproofing" (i.e., making the walls watertight and closing all the openings when a flood comes).
  • If your house is on a crawlspace, "wet floodproofing" or maybe a low floodwall will work. "Wet floodproofing," means moving all items (mechanicals, personal belongings, etc) subject to damage out of harm's way so water can flow into the crawlspace and not cause any problems.
  • The preferred method is to elevate your home and have a flow-through foundation. This always allows flood waters to rise and lower without human intervention and cause the least amount of damage and disruption to your daily life.

An excellent source for more information is Homeowner's Guide to Retrofitting: Six Ways to Protect Your House From Flooding (PDF).

Floodplain Development Permits

The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) requires participating counties and municipalities to issue permits for all development in the 1% chance or 100-year floodplain. Development is broadly defined by NFIP to include any man-made change to land, including grading, filling, dredging, extraction, storage, subdivision of land, as well as the construction or improvement of structures. Proposed development must not increase flooding or create a dangerous situation during flooding, especially on neighboring properties. If a structure is involved, it must be constructed to minimize damage during flooding. Permitting officials work with applicants to discourage development in the floodplain wherever possible, but when unavoidable, the effects of development must be minimized. If the property is located in the floodway, this may require an additional permit from the Illinois Department of Natural Resources - Office of Water Resources (IDNR-OWR).

The permitting review process may seem cumbersome at times, but it is a requirement for continued community participation in the NFIP. Violations can not only jeopardize a community's standing in the NFIP; they can impact the ability of residents to obtain flood insurance. If you see development occurring without permits, protect your rights by reporting violators to our office.

Emergency Measures

No matter what kind of building you have, some last-minute emergency measures can always help. For example, you could move valuable items (photos, antiques, and other "irreplaceables," etc.) or items that are most damaged by floodwaters (upholstered furniture, stuffed toys, mattresses, foam rubber, etc.) up to a higher level. You can place sandbags or plastic sheeting in front of doorways and other low entry points.

The Red Cross has information on emergency protection measures.