New revision will lead to improved flood maps with both current risk and future climate conditions
New Yorkers will save tens of millions of dollars in flood insurance premiums as a result of City’s flood map appeal
NEW YORK – Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) today announced an agreement to revise New York City’s flood maps. This is the result of the de Blasio administration’s 2015 appeal of FEMA’s flood risk calculations for New York City and the region, which mapped 35,000 more homes and buildings across the city into highest flood risk areas.
FEMA’s flood maps require homeowners in the highest flood risk areas to purchase flood insurance to cover the cost of flood damage, if they have a mortgage. Revised flood maps will provide New York City residents with more precise current flood risk data, in addition to providing a new map product reflecting future conditions that account for climate change. The innovative revisions will assist New York City in making coastlines more resilient and climate-ready, while ensuring homeowners are not required to purchase more insurance than their current flood risk requires.
“We are building a stronger, more resilient city to confront climate change. Our city needs precise flood maps that reflect real risks, both today and years from now—and we have to do that fairly. We will work closely with FEMA to ensure New Yorkers in the floodplain are prepared, and that the tools to make them more resilient, like flood insurance, remain available and affordable. We are grateful to FEMA to agreeing to this partnership,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.
“We have been working with Mayor de Blasio and his administration throughout the appeal process to obtain additional data from city officials in order to ensure we have the most accurate maps possible,” said FEMA Regional Administrator Jerome Hatfield. “The coastal flood risk has not been updated since 1983, and this process required proper diligence and the City’s involvement, all accomplished through our partnership.”
“We applaud the administration for adopting, and keeping in place the preliminary maps for construction permitting, which will ensure the city is more resilient in the face of stronger and more frequent storms. We are committed to working together to identify the best path forward as the coastal flood hazard analysis is completed,” said FEMA Assistant Administrator for Mitigation Michael Grimm.
NYC’s Flood Map Appeal
During FEMA’s formal 90-day appeal period in the summer of 2015, New York City officials submitted technical analyses and data that revise the flood risk depicted in the preliminary Flood Insurance Study (FIS) and preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for New York City and the region. FEMA and City officials agreed that the information submitted during the appeal period should be utilized to revise the preliminary FIS study and preliminary FIRM. This effort will be funded by FEMA, and the City will continue to work with FEMA and provide expert input in the development of revised flood maps.
New, Future-Looking Flood Maps
In addition, FEMA and the City will work together to create a new methodology to incorporate the growing risks of climate change and sea level rise onto flood maps. This ground-breaking step will be based on the best-available science, as guided by the New York City Panel on Climate Change, and will result in a new set of flood maps for planning and building purposes that better accounts for the future risk of sea level rise and coastal storm surge. This will also protect the affordability of flood insurance, which will continue to be priced against the revised FIRMs depicting current flood risk.
“The City’s OneNYC resiliency program requires the best-available climate science and accurate flood maps," said Daniel Zarrilli, Senior Director, Climate Policy and Program and Chief Resilience Officer, New York City Mayor’s Office. “FEMA’s decision to redraw New York City’s flood maps, and to work with us to produce innovative, climate-smart flood maps, allows us to begin separating the calculation of annual insurance premiums against current risk from the necessary long-term planning and building we need to do as a city to do adapt to rising seas and climate change. All homeowners should consider purchasing flood insurance to protect their homes and families. Thanks to FEMA for agreeing to this important partnership.”
Flood Insurance Rates / Building Code Requirements
Until the new flood maps are issued, flood insurance rates in New York City will continue to be based on the prior effective FIRMs saving coastal households tens of millions of dollars per year, in aggregate. For those outside of the highest risk areas on those maps, flood insurance will remain less expensive; both FEMA and the City encourage residents to purchase this affordable flood coverage because we know that there is flood risk outside of the highest risk areas. Until new flood maps are developed that both accurately reflect current flood risk and also provide an assessment of future climate conditions for long-term planning purposes, the city’s building code will continue to reflect the 2015 preliminary FIRMs to ensure that new buildings are better able to withstand flood risk from rising sea levels and coastal storm surge, and so that recovery from Hurricane Sandy can continue without interruption.
Conveying flood risk accurately to affected residents is among FEMA and the City’s top priorities. As the maps are being revised, it is crucial that New Yorkers remain aware of their current and future flood risk. To ensure residents keep their home and finances safe, the City has launched a consumer education campaign directing residents to FloodHelpNY.org, a one-stop shop for flood risk information. Once the revised flood maps come in effect, additional extensive outreach and education programs will be provided for all communities.