Update: New York City and FEMA Reach Agreement to Revise Flood Insurance Rate Maps

By Nicole B. Dory

New York City and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) announced on October 17, 2016 that they have reached an agreement to revise the City’s flood maps. The move resolves the City’s appeal of preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), which affect thousands of businesses and households.  The City’s appeal, filed on June 26, 2015, argued that there were errors in FEMA’s storm surge and offshore wave models that resulted in Base Flood Elevations (BFEs) that were overstated by more than two feet in some areas, which caused many thousands of structures to be incorrectly designated on FIRMs. 

Because the appeal challenged FEMA’s model, the agreement to revise FIRMs should lead to more accurate maps for not only New York City, but for other coastal communities in New Jersey as well as other areas of New York that were affected by the modeling errors. FEMA will be working with New York City to incorporate additional data to make the FIRMs more accurate.

FEMA’s press release states that “New Yorkers will save tens of millions of dollars in flood insurance premiums as a result of [the] City’s flood map appeal.”  This cost savings is achieved because it will take several years for the final FIRMs to be issued and, until that time, flood insurance rates for structures located in New York City will be based on the prior effective FIRMs.  However, the City has agreed that, until the new maps are prepared, its building code will incorporate the designations on the 2015 preliminary FIRMs. 

If you have questions concerning development within the flood hazard area or revisions and amendments to flood maps for a particular project, please contact Kevin Coakley or Nicole Dory at Connell Foley at kcoakley@connellfoley.com and ndory@connellfoley.com.