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Floodplain Information

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Since a portion of the city is located within a floodplain, flooding can occur within the city from time to time — most commonly in areas that touch or are near the Minnehaha Creek.

The City of St. Louis Park takes potential flooding risks very seriously and carefully manages stormwater and floodplains by working with the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources (DNR), Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), local watershed management organizations and adjacent cities.

FEMA flood insurance bulletins related to COVID-19


A floodplain is a normally dry area of land that is susceptible to flooding. These areas are typically adjacent to a stream, lake or river; however, they can also be other low areas that can’t drain as quickly as the rain falls.

  • 100-year floodplain (Zone AE) – Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) having 1 percent annual chance of flooding. Statistically, this area has a 26 percent chance of flooding over the life of a 30-year mortgage even though the annual chance of flooding is 1 percent.
  • 500-year floodplain (Zone X) – 0.2 percent chance of flooding. Structures in this zone are not required to purchase flood insurance.

Common acronyms

The following acronyms are commonly used in flood-related documents and discussions:

  • FEMA – Federal Emergency Management Agency
  • NFIP – National Flood Insurance Program
  • SFHA – Special Flood Hazard Area, also known as the 100-year floodplain
  • FIRM – Flood Insurance Rate Map
  • CRS – Community Rating System

National Flood Insurance Program

The City of St. Louis Park participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), making federally backed flood insurance available to property owners. Lenders are prohibited from issuing mortgages for properties in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA), unless the property is covered by flood insurance.

Learn more about flood insurance.

Base flood elevation

Base flood elevation (BFE) is synonymous with the 100-year flood stage. Determining base flood elevations can be done in different ways depending on the source of the floodplain map and the zone of the site.

  • Elevation of surface water from a flood that has a 1 percent chance of equaling or exceeding that level in any given year
  • BFE is shown on the FIRM

Locating properties in a floodplain

To identify properties at risk of flooding, FEMA prepares flood insurance studies and Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) where flood risk is designated by zones. You can search by property address on FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center.

Hennepin County’s online mapping tool also allows property owners to locate floodplain boundaries. It allows you to search by property address, and it shows new floodplain boundaries, high-quality color aerial photos, parcel boundaries and topography. You can also print a map of your property.

Natural and beneficial functions of a floodplain

Floodplains with natural and beneficial functions provide an erosion control buffer and open space so further flood damage does not occur. Native plants are best suited for floodplains with deep root systems to resist erosion and stabilize the shoreline. Turf grass has a shallow root system and commonly erodes.

Floodplain development

The City of St. Louis Park regulates construction, earth work, improvements, repairs and development within the SFHA. Properties that touch the SFHA must comply with floodplain development standards developed by the city.

Flood risk: its not just a spring issue

  • Anywhere it can rain, it can flood!
  • Rainfall events are and will continue to be more frequent and extreme. 
    • Since 2000, widespread rains of more than six inches are four times more frequent than in the previous three decades in Minnesota. 
    • Rainfall events of more than three inches have increased 65% since 2000 in Minnesota. 
  • More than 30% of flood insurance claims in Minnesota are for damage outside of FEMA mapped high risk zones. 
  • Close to 50% of flood damage is outside of FEMA mapped high risk zones. 



Jennifer Monson, senior planner

Erick Francis, water resources manager