On October 17, 2016 FEMA announced the de Blasio administration won its appeal of FEMA’s 2015 Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and also agreed to revise New York City’s flood maps.  FEMA’s flood maps require homeowners in the highest flood risk areas to purchase flood insurance to cover the cost of any damage done to a home as a result of flooding.

This successful partnership with FEMA will result in revised flood maps which will provide New York City residents with more precise flood risk data for current conditions, in addition to providing a new map product for future conditions that account for climate change. The 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.

What is an Appeal?

An appeal must be based on scientific and technical issues with FEMA methodology and mapping. An appeal can object to the new or modified Base Flood Elevations (BFEs), floodplain boundaries, or flood zone designations on the updated Preliminary FIRMs.The distinction between a "scientific" versus a "technical" issue is important because appeals based on scientific issues require different types of data than appeals about technical issues. Read more about the technical basis for the City’s appeal.

Why did the City file an Appeal?

In order to ensure the accuracy of FEMA’s Preliminary FIRMs, the City hired an engineering team to review them. The City’s team found errors in FEMA’s modeling that overestimate the size of the 100-year floodplain and the height of the Base Flood Elevations. **It is a top priority of the City to provide New Yorkers with an accurate understanding of their flood risk.**

It is critically important that FEMA’s maps are accurate for three reasons.

  1. Homeowners need to understand their flood risk.
  2. Federal rules require property owners within the 100-year floodplain with a federally backed mortgage to purchase flood insurance; if the maps overstate the 100-year floodplain, more residents than necessitated by the data will be required to purchase flood insurance.
  3. Flood insurance rates are set based on the Base Flood Elevation relative to a structure’s first occupied floor; if the Base Flood Elevations are too high the corresponding premium will also be unnecessarily high.

Until the new flood maps are issued, flood insurance rates in New York City will continue to be based on the 2007 Effective FIRMs saving coastal households tens of millions of dollars per year; the city’s Building Code will continue to reflect the 2015 Preliminary FIRMs.