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FEMA Releases Preliminary Work Maps for New York City

Release date: 
June 10, 2013

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today released Preliminary Work Maps for New York City that reflect the latest refinements to the ongoing analysis of coastal flood hazards. The release of the Preliminary Work Maps is the next step in the coastal Flood Insurance Study update. The Preliminary Work Maps replace the Advisory Base Flood Elevation Maps for New York City that were released earlier this year. Property owners should use these new maps to inform rebuilding and other ongoing construction.

The changes between the Advisory Base Flood Elevation Maps and the Preliminary Work Maps released today include a reduction in the area designated as a V-zone (area at risk of experiencing waves greater than 3 feet in height). The new maps are extremely important as FEMA and the City continue to work in partnership to support sustainable disaster resilient communities; and to avoid or reduce the loss of life, loss of property, and financial impacts of coastal flood hazards.

The Preliminary Work Maps are an interim step in the process of developing Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). The Preliminary Work Maps precede the Preliminary FIRMs, which upon becoming effective will determine flood insurance rates, though the risks reflected in the two sets of maps will be the same. The Preliminary FIRMs are estimated to become effective sometime in2015. The Preliminary Work Maps and the Preliminary FIRMs that follow will help property owners make decisions about how high to elevate their homes and businesses to reduce their flood risk and potential future flood insurance costs.

New York City’s housing recovery program, NYC Build It Back, will help homeowners impacted by Hurricane Sandy rebuild and meet the new elevation and freeboard standards to reduce their flood risk. Information on that program is available on

As compared to the effective FIRMs for New York City, the Preliminary Work Maps show that the majority of areas will see increases in the floodplain and Base Flood Elevations (BFEs); however some areas may see decreases.  These changes are due primarily to more precise ground elevation data and more detailed analysis.

There is an indication that the overall size of the coastal high hazard area will increase in comparison to the effective FIRMs. Estimates indicate that about 2 percent of the New York City land area is subject to high velocity wave action, which is roughly twice the area shown on the current effective FIRMs.

FEMA encourages communities to use this information in instances where BFEs have increased and/or new Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs) are shown on the Preliminary Work Maps. This will help community members make decisions to reduce their flood risk until the preliminary FIRMs become effective. Please visit for more information on the Preliminary Work Maps.

For more information on New York’s disaster recovery, visit,, and

Last Updated: 
June 12, 2013 - 14:22
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