After a Disaster: Floodplain Permits and More

Who needs to know the following information after a disaster? Local elected officials, community emergency manager & staff, road crews, city works departments, and others in the community.



When are floodplain permits needed during a disaster?

Floodplain permits are always required.  During a flood event , regardless of whether there is a federally declared disaster or not, floodplain permits are required for all work happening in a floodplain before the work begins.  This requirement comes from KRS 151.250 below:

“No person, city, county or other political subdivision of the state shall…[develop in the floodplain]…unless plans and specifications…have been submitted to and approved by the cabinet and a permit issued…”

The ONLY exception to this permitting requirement is:

1) when work is completed by the KY Transportation Cabinet (KYTC), or 2) work that complies with DOW Memorandum 84-001  

This DOW Memorandum 84-001h as an emergency provision that allows for a City or County to take action to repair, replace, or stabilize a “roadway drainage structure” during emergency situations.  An event must be declared an emergency by a federal, state, or local entity for it to be considered an emergency situation.   Essentially this memorandum says communities can repair or replace stream crossings as long as:

  1. The crossing was previously permitted since Jan 1, 2974;
  2. There will be no significant or additional obstruction of the stream;
  3. All construction meets the state regulations in 401 KAR 4:060; and
  4. The community submits plans within 30 days of work beginning for approval.



If a Disaster is declared, how does this change the permit process?

IF, or when, a Federal disaster is declared, the Division of Water has an expedited permitting process available.  As part of the Public Assistance (PA) program to get reimbursed for disaster costs, communities must show compliance with state permitting requirements.  DOW’s expedited permitting process allows communities to get approval for all emergency work with minimal documentation.  This expedited permitting process is only available AFTER a disaster has been declared.



What other permits will I need besides a floodplain permit?

The most common permit needed with a state floodplain permit is a Clean Water Act 404/401 permit.  Link to the Water Quality Guide for Severe Weather Cleanup from DOW’s 401 Water Quality Section.

Nationwide Permits & General Certifications are preapproved for certain activities, the most common of these are listed in the Guide.  As long as you comply with the requirements on these Nationwide Permits & General Certifications, you can simply print them off and that printout is your permit.  No other application or public notice is required.

If you have a dam that is in need of maintenance or repairs, contact the Dam Safety Section supervisor to discuss permit requirements. 



Who can help me understand these permits & requirements better?

Disaster Assistance Response Team (DART) members are the Division’s point of contact for communities needing assistance during disaster response & recovery. The DART Team has members from the Floodplain Management, Water Quality, and Dam Safety sections that can help you.  

DART team members are able to provide guidance on DOW regulatory requirements, permitting processes, determining project scope of needed work, and coordination with local communities.

If you have any questions with any permitting requirements, or if you have questions such as “Is a permit required”, “Does this permit apply to me” or other such questions, the DART are available to answer disaster related permitting questions. 

The DART Team Contact list are available online