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.



Floodplain Permitting After a Disaster

User Notes for Post-Disaster Inspection Notices

All local floodplain managers that any recovery or repair efforts located in the 1% chance floodplain are required to get state AND local floodplain permits.  Part of the recovery phase in floodplains is to do Substantial Damage (SD) Assessments, which can be accomplished during the permitting phase. 

These Notices for Post-Disaster are to help communities notify and remind their citizens & property owners of floodplain permit requirements, even after a disaster.  Permits and substantial damage assessments are required for each damaged structure before repairs can begin.

Substantial Damage determinations are required by your local flood ordinance, state regulation (401 KAR 4:060), and federal regulation (44 CFR Part 60) after a disaster.  These notices help your community comply with local, state, and federal requirements.  See the descriptions below for when each of these notices should be used.

Link to Post-Disaster Permitting Notices

Link to KY Floodplain Compliance Guide

Link to KY Substantial Damage Fact Sheet

Key Points to share with affected Property Owners

  • Document Everything!
    • Make lists of damaged items, item model numbers, approx. year item purchased, etc. Take photos & videos BEFORE cleanup begins, as well as during & after.
  • Permits are only needed before repairs or alterations begin
    • Work to minimize future damage from mold or other weather before getting permits. This includes removing anything that was flooded, covering exterior holes, drying buildings out, removing mud, beginning mold treatments, etc.
  • Mitigation actions may be required or should be considered

Mitigation is reducing the risk of future flood damages.  This may include getting flood insurance, elevating/relocating their building, elevating their utilities & duct work, etc.  Mitigation funding & Increased Cost of Compliance funding may be available.  Don’t just build back, build back better!

Link to our Property Owner Flood Recovery Resources.


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



FEMA Implements Post-disaster Building Safety Evaluation Guidance

DRRA section 1241 directs FEMA to develop guidance for building experts to use when they evaluate structures for safety and habitability after a disaster.  In November 2019, FEMA published the FEMA P-2055, Post-disaster Building Safety Evaluation Guidance as required by DRRA Section 1241: Post-disaster Building Safety Assessment. The report is on the current state of practice for post-disaster building safety evaluation, including recommendations related to structural and nonstructural safety and habitability. 

FEMA P-2055 summarizes and references best practice guideline documents or provides interim recommendations for issues without best practice guidance.  It also identified recommended improvements and needs, including a primer for state, local, tribal, and territorial governments that have the authority to set standards or policy related to the implementation of post-disaster evaluations, to protect the design professionals who volunteer as evaluators, and legislation to create the authority to evaluate and post buildings, deputize evaluators, and restrict occupancy. 








Mitigation Matters!  

Have questions, contact us at

KAMM mailing address: KAMM, PO Box 1016, Frankfort, KY 40602-1016.  


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