Historic Flood Signs for High Water Marks in Kansas

This project provided 24 free signs for 17 different communities in Kansas by 2019. The signs provide a historic story and picture of flooding in the community and raise awareness on flood risks. The signs remind property owners and developers to diversify their flood risk management actions to be resilient to floods in the area. Partners included the KDA Division of Water Resources (DWR), the Kansas Historical Society, USGS, and NOAA NWS. Participating communities included Arkansas City, Coffeyville, Edwardsville, Florence, Fort Scott ("Flood Tour" 4 locations), Hays, Junction City, Lawrence, Marion, Natoma, Ottawa, Riley County, Silver Lake, Strong City, Topeka, Wamego, and Washington. See DWR's web site hosts additional photos here.


The historic flood signs offer the public a quick response (QR) code (inserted boxes, left image) with a web link to more information. The black QR code takes readers to the KDWR web page with more flood photos and details on how to reduce flood risks. The red QR code is used only in or near leveed areas and offers a direct link to the National Levee Database. The red link explains how the levee only reduces risks, yet requires property owners to further diversify their risk management options. This should include considering flood insurance.

Ottawa Historic Flooding sign

Brooker-Central Park Fort Scott Flood Tour

Ottawa Historic Flooding Site

These historic flood signs can be mounted on simple wood or metal posts, as well. The signs shown are two sites in Kansas where the communities decided to go a step up. Marion, KS staff posted their sign (image on top right) using a very nice native stone mounting. The Ottawa, KS sign used a metal frame for a kiosk style (bottom image) (click Ottawa for pdf of the sign, 11.6 MB).

Nonstructural Assessment for Florence Levee

Kansas City District, in coordination with Tulsa District, established a report on how the city and county may diversify their flood risk solutions behind the Florence Levee. In the report shared in October 2018, a nonstructural assessment provides useful technical information to the city, county, and state hazard mitigation planners. The effort provides flood mitigation solutions for almost 300 buildings. Planners provide insight to guide property owners, possibly elevating to a height above flood elevations, and possibly flood proofing or relocation. The recommendations also will enhance the city's emergency action plan, address critical infrastructure in the leveed area, guide the community in the use of existing NWS and USGS tools, and emphasize the importance of flood insurance for the community's long-term resilience to floods.

Florence, Kansas Risk Management Options report (pdf, 10.2 MB).

Briefing to KS floodplain managers, risk management options for levees (pdf, 7.6 MB), Florence and Manhattan, KS, presentation to Kansas Association of Floodplain Managers (KAFM) annual conference, September 5, 2018.

Florence, Kansas Flood Risk Management Options report A page from the Florence, Kansas Flood Risk Management Options report A second page from the Florence, Kansas Flood Risk Management Options report A third page from the Florence, Kansas Flood Risk Management Options report

Recurring Flood Area Identification and Outreach

KDA Division of Water Resource established Flood Report as a shared database and web mapping tool for flood hazard locations. As of March 5, 2019, communities had identified 184 sites, since the web site went online March 21, 2018. The project incentivized identifying sites by offering free bringing NOAA National Weather Service Turn Around Don't Drown signs. The team provided 186 signs to 10 communities.

Flood Report helps the state in several ways. The database is useful to NOAA NWS for enhancing flood forecasts for areas sensitive to flood hazards. For areas with flash flooding, this could prevent loss of life. Data stored includes flood information, weather, climate, river forecasting, and emergency contacts lists. At USACE, the Silver Jackets Coordinators and Floodplain Management Service program managers can use the database to better understand where to provide technical assistance to communities. The results will strengthen the state hazard mitigation planning efforts and help prioritize future flood mitigation actions.

The project has been a partnership between the KDA Division of Water Resources, the NOAA National Weather Service, USACE, and FEMA's Community Engagement and Risk Communication initiative, and other agencies.

Communities that entered flood hazard data in the DWR web tool received multiple TADD signs for each location. Most road overtopping locations received two signs. One for each direction.

DWR and the Kansas Hazard Mitigation Team will continue to host Flood Report on the web for the foreseeable future. Communities have multiple options for how they can make entries, as noted below:

  1. Geographically, using a web tool supported by Kansas DWR: Flood Area ID Web Map
  2. Communities can also mail information to Kansas DWR, 6531 SE Forbes Ave. Ste. B Topeka, KS 66619.
  3. A community may also contact Kansas DWR staff to assist via phone or email.

Recurring Flood ID Project Road sign that reads: When Flooded Turn Around Don't Drown

The KDA DWR Flood Report online database is shown above, left. A Turn Around Don't Drown Sign (NWS), Doyle Creek, Florence, KS, is on the right.

Repetitive Loss Update

The USACE team members helped update the state repetitive loss database in 2018. Ten years had passed since the last update. About 510 properties were evaluated. Within the database, 400 are repetitive loss properties and 11 are severe repetitive loss properties. The results of the project identified 69 properties with concerns for further evaluation and arranged for 14 structures to be removed from the list. This updated list will aid with enhancing the state hazard mitigation plan.

Floodplain Leader Course, Kansas and Missouri

In fall of 2016 this project was selected. The work established a flood hazard mitigation training course that can be located at any regional planning council.

The Kansas and Missouri teams both wish to boost understanding of flood mitigation projects by those that do community floodplain administration. The product is, at this time, only a document outlining a course meeting once a week for about a month for floodplain administrators. Topics like risk analysis, public engagement in risk communication, resilience, climate change and nonstructural measures are possibilities. Topics that go beyond normal regulatory subject matter. The course will sharpen skill sets and make floodplain managers into leaders. Various agencies will be able to provide guest speakers for the flood hazard mitigation topics.

The Mid-America Regional Council (MARC) is willing to provide an initial home for the course, if enough interest is found from the communities in their area of support. The development of a curriculum is based on interagency feedback. Some regional planning councils already have a government training institute, similar to MARC's, and the intent of this project is to use those. The course is suggested to meet over five weeks, every Friday (perhaps) for three or four hours. The regional planning councils would determine a fee later, as well as do capacity building on a final curriculum and funding.

Floodplain Course poster for USACE Flood Risk Management Conference (pdf, 406 KB)

Multiple Agencies Collaborate on Wildcat Creek, Kansas

A Silver Jackets pilot project on Wildcat Creek in and near the City of Manhattan, Kansas, demonstrates the advantages of leveraging resources and collaborating on a shared vision for a flood risk management solution. Wildcat Creek had severe flooding in 2007, 2010, and again in June 2011. The 2011 event resulted in the evacuation of over 200 people. Future flooding in the 100 square mile watershed is inevitable and could get worse unless mitigation action occurs. The project established a flood forecast inundation map in a partnership with NOAA National Weather Service, U.S. Geological Survey, and the Kansas Hazard Mitigation Team. The city also was a partner, paying a one time fee for the flood forecast inundation map, but their staff worked hard to establish a floodplain management plan, as well.

Cover of the Wildcat Creek Floodplain Management Plan

In conjunction with the mapping, the pilot products included the first officially adopted Silver Jackets floodplain management plan (FMP) (pdf, 79 MB) for managing flood risks. The FMP also has a watershed perspective for the 99-square mile Wildcat Creek. The plan documents the flood risks and committee decisions on managing flood risks while establishing action items for future mitigation efforts. The FMP meets the requirements to be eligible for both USACE construction funds, as well as reduced rates for National Flood Insurance Program premiums through the Community Rating System. The success of this FMP is largely due to engaging the public immediately following the flood event.

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Flood Forecast Inundation Maps Assist Public in Rossville, Kansas

Building on the success of the interagency Wildcat Creek pilot, flood forecast inundation maps were produced for Rossville, Kansas. The project takes advantage of state-of-the-art two dimensional modeling results to most effectively describe the flood hazard from Cross Creek upstream of the Kansas River. The Cross Creek National Weather Service web page is here. The project is a partnership with the KDEM, KDA DWR, and the federal partners, NOAA National Weather Service, the Corps of Engineers, and U.S. Geological Survey.

Missouri River Flood Inundation Maps Demonstrate Interstate Cooperation

Silver Jackets pilot funding brought together the local communities in collaboration with both the State Risk Management Team in Missouri and the Kansas Hazard Mitigation Team. The pilot developed a prototype flood forecast inundation map for discrete elevation levels to convey flood risks to communities between Parkville, Missouri and Leavenworth, Kansas. The prototype created a visual representation for when levees overtop and leveed areas will flood. In addition to interagency contributions to developing the inundation map, stakeholders from Ponca City, Nebraska to the river's mouth in St. Louis, Missouri, including Silver Jackets teams, state agencies, counties, cities, and levee owners provided input. The map is available here, courtesy of the National Weather Service, Advance Hydrologic Prediction Service.

Big Blue and Kansas Rivers' Confluence Actions for Flood Risk Management

This interagency project is improving flood hazard awareness in the Big Blue River Watershed. The project will complete a floodplain management plan (FMP) (pdf, 3.45 MB) for the community for this major river to assist communities in managing flood hazards along the Big Blue River. Concurrent with the Floodplain Management Plan, agencies have developed this flood forecast inundation map through the National Weather Service at the existing gage on the Big Blue River. The city web site, Know Your Flood Risk, presents the officially adopted floodplain management plan and the flood forecast inundation map.

A public meeting was held on the nonstructural measures for the property owners, and a breakout session during the meeting used several different diorama models (pdf, 1.00 MB) along with newly found flood depths from FEMA map revisions. The owners provided feedback on these measures and which ones they would like to pursue.

Nonstructural Assessment for Kansas' Little Apple

Manhattan, Kansas, also known as “the Little Apple”, has been addressing flood impacts located along the Big Blue River and Wildcat Creek. The city established two floodplain management plans to be their playbook for areas not provided with a flood risk reduction from structural measures, such as the Tuttle Creek Dam and the Manhattan Federal Levee. This project looked at 50 of the 250 structures with significant flood risks. The work employed the USACE National Nonstructural Committee (NNC) and their tools. The project was essentially a first look into applying flood proofing and home elevations. Products include a first order screening (using the NNC, formerly NFPC, Matrix), a detailed cost estimate using the NNC cost estimating software, and an economic analysis. KDA DWR also used the results to help inform their application to the U.S. Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) National Disaster Resiliency Competition (NDRC). The information is helping in public meetings with individual property owners, so they can understand the opportunities to reduce their flood risks. The project is also the subject of a Silver Jackets webinar.

Silver Jacket webinar, May 6, 2016: Presentation (pdf, 3.9 MB). Additional details are on the main Silver Jackets Webinars & Presentations web page.

Little Apple poster for USACE Flood Risk Management Conference (pdf, 0.98 MB)

NNC Inventory of Structure Data, spreadsheet table (xlsx, 53.0 KB)

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Emergency Action Plans for Kansas Watershed Joint Districts

This interagency project provided help on emergency action plans (EAPs) for conservation districts in Kansas that had made past requests to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, Kansas, and the Division of Water Resources dam structure program for assistance in completing them. These EAPs serve to reduce risk by providing actions and information to dam operators in the case of an emergency, including calling-trees, warning messages, and evacuation routes. USACE provided technical expertise to complete these badly needed EAPs. The dam operators were engaged in the process and are implementing these plans to help Kansas drive down flood risks. Between ten and twenty dam sites received assistance, and the work was shared between areas of responsibility in USACE's Kansas City District and Tulsa District.


EAPs for KS poster for USACE Flood Risk Management Conference (pdf, 529 KB)