Recovery Toolkit for Property Owners
FEMA is committed to continuing the recovery process in New Jersey and New York by providing the best assessment of flood risk to help guide communities in their efforts to reduce the impact of flood events and protect lives and property from future damages. 

Before Hurricane Sandy, FEMA had begun a coastal flood study to update Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) and Flood Insurance Study (FIS) reports for portions of New York and New Jersey using improved methods and data to better reflect coastal flood risk. After Sandy, FEMA released Advisory Base Flood Elevation (ABFE) maps for certain communities based on the partially completed flood study which were designed to help in rebuilding and recovery efforts. FEMA is now in the process of releasing preliminary work maps for certain communities which include the full results of the coastal flood study.  Preliminary FIRMs and FIS reports, which will follow the release of the preliminary work maps for communities receiving those products, are also now in the process of being released.    

Rebuilding using FEMA flood hazard data can reduce the vulnerability of your home to flooding and flood damage, potentially decreasing the cost of flood insurance and the cost to recover from future storms and floods. View the video above to learn how building higher and safer paid off for one New York family who weathered Sandy.

The information provided on this resources page will help you understand the updated flood hazard  data developed by FEMA and how it can be used to help reduce the effects of future storms and flooding on your home or business.

Can't find what you're looking for on this page? For additional assistance, please call 1-800-427-4661 or contact us through our online form.  
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Why has FEMA developed updated flood hazard data?
The known flood risk has changed since the last effective community Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for many communities in New Jersey and New York. Because of this, FEMA developed ABFE maps to assist in rebuilding and recovery efforts. Once completed, preliminary work maps will replace the ABFE maps as the most recent data available from FEMA for the area. The preliminary work maps are based on the same underlying data as the ABFE maps, but use a more refined analysis of shoreline conditions along the impacted coastal area, including the effects of erosion and wave runup.  The release of the preliminary work maps will be followed by the release of preliminary FIRMs which will show both the coastal flood hazards shown on the preliminary work maps and the riverine flood hazards for each community.

How do I find the FEMA flood hazard data available for my property?
To quickly and easily find out what the flood elevation and zone are for your property, you can use the ‘What is My BFE?’ address lookup tool. Using this tool, you can simply enter your address, and a short report will be generated on the page which will show the flood elevation and zone for your property, in addition to information from your community’s effective FIRM so you can compare the information. 

If you’d prefer to view a map showing the flood elevation and zone information, visit the View FEMA Flood Hazard Data page

People with accessibility needs may call 1-800-427-4661 or use our online form to request and receive assistance in identifying and interpreting the flood elevation and zone information for their property.

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I have looked up the flood elevation and zone for my property.  Now what should I do? 

Some specific ways you can use FEMA flood hazard information for your property are listed below.

•    FEMA flood hazard information will allow you to be better informed when you meet with your local building and permitting authority to discuss your individual property building requirements.   The ‘What is My BFE?’ address lookup tool allows you to generate a brief customized report of the updated and effective flood hazard information for your property that you can bring with you.

•    Consider elevating your home’s lowest floor above the updated flood hazard elevation or the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) shown on your community’s effective FIRM, whichever is higher.  Keep in mind, if your community has adopted a freeboard requirement (requiring new buildings to be elevated higher than the updated flood hazard elevation or effective BFE), you may be required to meet this elevation requirement.  This additional protection has multiple benefits including: lowering future flood insurance premiums and providing added protection against increased future flood levels.  Contact your local building officials to find out information about your community’s building requirements.

•    If your property is located between the Limit of Moderate Wave Action (LiMWA) and the VE Zone as shown on the updated maps, you may be at risk of property damage because of coastal wave action. You may want to consider installing breakaway walls and using other structural building measures that will allow the building to remain intact after a storm event.    

You can get more information about coastal construction measures through FEMA’s Hurricane Sandy Building Science Resources webpage and the Building Sciences Resources Fact Sheet.  

Remember that before building, you should consult with your local building officials to determine the mandatory elevations and any construction requirements for your home or building.

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Am I required to raise my home, and if so, by how much? 

Following a disaster, FEMA determines which flood hazard information is considered to be the “best available data” and required to be considered when using FEMA disaster recovery assistance such as the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program or Public Assistance funds.  While not a National Flood Insurance Program requirements, FEMA strongly encourages communities to use the most recent flood hazard data released for rebuilding efforts to ensure the same standard is used in all post-disaster recovery efforts. Keep in mind that if your community decides to use ABFEs, preliminary work maps, or the preliminary FIRM and FIS report as the basis of development decisions, it must compare this flood hazard information to the effective FIRM for a given development site and use the most restrictive flood hazard information.  Also keep in mind that  community or State requirements (see below) may be  more restrictive. 

Before building, you should consult with your local community building official to determine the mandatory elevations and any construction requirements for your home or building.

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New Jersey Residents: FEMA maps will be adopted and enforced at the local level.  The State of New Jersey is requiring the adoption of the updated FEMA flood hazard data as the basis for statewide floodplain development standards.  New Jersey law requires the lowest floor of residential buildings to be constructed at least one foot above the updated flood hazard data elevation or the effective BFE, whichever is higher. Some communities may require elevating even higher.  Therefore, if the community determines that your structure is substantially damaged, you will be required to elevate the structure to the standard determined by your municipal floodplain administrator or building official.  For additional information, visit the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection's Post Sandy FAQ webpage or contact your local building department. 

New York Residents:  New York City is using preliminary FIRM information as the basis for floodplain development standards for new and substantially improved buildings.  As a result, until the new preliminary FIRM becomes effective, owners of new or substantially improved buildings must use either the flood zone/BFE information from the preliminary FIRM or the City’s current effective FIRM (whichever is more restrictive) for construction requirements. Contact the New York City Department of Buildings for more information.

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In the future, FEMA will release new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) that incorporate the recently released flood hazard data, which may result in new, higher flood elevations or risk zones than shown on the currently effective FIRM for your community. Once communities adopt the new FIRMs, the new elevations and zones will affect both building requirements and flood insurance premiums. 

Information on the benefits of rebuilding higher including scenarios of long-term cost savings to property owners can be found in Rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy: Building Safer and Stronger Pays Off.

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Are there any grants or funding available to help me repair and/or elevate my home?
If your property is insured under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you may qualify for Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage.  Policyholders in high-risk areas can receive up to $30,000 to help pay the costs of bringing their home into compliance with their community's floodplain ordinance.  You can only file an ICC claim if your community determines that your home has been substantially or repetitively damaged by a flood.  This determination is made when you apply for a building permit to begin repairing your home.  Substantial damage generally means that repairs will cost 50 percent or more of the building’s pre-damage market value.  More information on ICC coverage is available through FEMA’s ICC webpage.  You may also call your insurance company or agent or the NFIP toll-free number at 1 800-427-4661 for assistance.

Many funding options for New Jersey homeowners are provided through the reNew Jersey Stronger website.  Options include the New Jersey Home Elevation Program funded by the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (discussed in detail below) which provides reimbursement of up to $30,000 for elevations of existing single family homes in certain counties severely affected by Sandy. Information about how to apply for these programs is also available on the reNew Jersey Stronger website.

Eligible homeowners who wish to sell their properties damaged by Sandy in tidal areas of New Jersey may take advantage of the Blue Acres Floodplain Acquisition Program, a joint effort of the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, the State Office of Emergency Management and FEMA.  For more information, including application information, visit the Blue Acres Program homepage.

Both the States of New Jersey and New York have received major disaster declarations and are eligible to apply for Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) funds.  The purpose of HMGP is to reduce the loss of life and property due to natural disasters and to enable mitigation measures to be implemented during recovery from a disaster.  Property Acquisition (or “buy out”) is an eligible activity under the HMGP, as are other hazard mitigation measures such as structure elevation.  To receive HMGP funds to elevate structures, you must build to the best available flood hazard data elevation or the effective BFE, whichever is higher.  More information regarding the HMGP may be found on FEMA’s website.  Contact your local officials to inquire about HMGP opportunities in your community. New Jersey residents may also apply for elevation funding directly through the reNew Jersey Stronger website and get information about submitting property acquisition requests through the Blue Acres Floodplain Acquisitions Program page.

Options are also available for uninsured residents who have experienced property damage related to a presidentially declared disaster such as Hurricane Sandy, including a low-interest rate disaster loan from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA).  Renters and homeowners may borrow up to $40,000 to repair or replace clothing, furniture, cars, or appliances damaged or destroyed in the disaster. Homeowners may apply for up to $200,000 to repair or replace their primary residence to its pre-disaster condition.  These loans may not be used to upgrade homes or make additions unless required by their local building authority. Loans may be increased by up to 20 percent of the total amount of disaster damage to real estate, as verified by SBA, to make improvements that lessen the risk of property damage by future disasters of the same kind. Second homes or vacation properties are not eligible for these loans. However, qualified rental properties may be eligible for assistance under the SBA business loan program.  Anyone with questions about disaster loans can call the SBA Customer Service Center at 1-800-659-2955 or visit the SBA's website.

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How will the draft or preliminary flood hazard data affect my flood insurance rates?
The release of the ABFE, preliminary work map, and preliminary FIRM data will not change your current flood insurance premium, which will continue to be based on the official Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) currently in effect for your community. However, in the future, FEMA will release new FIRMs that incorporate the updated data, which may result in new, higher flood elevations or risk zones than shown on the current effective FIRM for your community. Once communities adopt those new FIRMs, the new elevations and zones will affect both building requirements and flood insurance premiums. 

In general, flood insurance premiums decrease as the building’s height above the effective flood elevation increases. The
Rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy brochure provides examples of how flood insurance rates and the building’s elevation above the flood are correlated.

NFIP rate changes you will want to know about are described in the brochure,
Changes in the Flood Insurance Program. For more information regarding the availability and cost of flood insurance, call 1-800-638-6620 or visit FloodSmart.gov.

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What is Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) Coverage and how can it help me?
If your property is insured under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), you may qualify for Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) coverage.  Policyholders in high-risk areas can receive up to $30,000 to help pay the costs of bringing their home into compliance with their community's floodplain ordinance. 

Four options are covered under ICC: 

1. Structure elevation;

2. Relocation;

3. Demolition; and

4. Floodproofing (for non-residential buildings). 

You can only file an ICC claim if your community determines that your home has been substantially or repetitively damaged by a flood.  This determination is made when you apply for a building permit to begin repairing your home.  Substantial damage generally means that repairs will cost 50 percent or more of the building’s pre-damage market value.  Read the ICC brochure, visit FEMA’s ICC webpage or contact your insurance agent to learn more about ICC and how it can help you.  

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Get Plug-Ins

 

Helpful Resources and Websites

FEMA Flood Hazard Data  
General Information

Provides access to available FEMA flood hazard data through online maps and the 'What is My BFE?' address lookup tool.

This page includes links to online map viewers showing preliminary FIRM data for coastal New Jersey and New York communities. Preliminary FIRM information is also available for viewing and download through FEMA’s Map Service Center, the official online source for preliminary and effective FIRMs.

Understanding Vertical Datums page
Provides answers to common questions about vertical datums and datum conversion tables for locations in New York and New Jersey.


Preliminary FIRMs

Provides answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the preliminary FIRMs that FEMA will be issuing on rolling basis by community beginning in late 2013.

Provides additional information about the difference between ABFE data, preliminary work map and preliminary FIRM data and recommendations for how the data can be used.

Preliminary Work Maps

"Interpreting Preliminary Work Maps" Fact Sheets for New York City and New Jersey
These fact sheets provide information about how to read and use preliminary work maps being released by FEMA prior to the issuance of preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps.

Technical Fact Sheet Series
Fact Sheet Series about technical data used to develop the preliminary work maps:  Storm Surge GIS DataTransect Data and Field Reconnaissance, and Coastal Hazard Analysis Modeling Program (CHAMP) Database Interpretation

Provides answers to Frequently Asked Questions about the preliminary work maps FEMA is issuing for certain communities beginning in June 2013 which show the full results of the coastal flood study.

View presentation documents providing information about the release of the preliminary work maps in New Jersey.

Advisory Base Flood Elevations (ABFEs)

ABFE Factsheet
Provides a general overview of the Advisory Base Flood Elevation information

ABFEs in Rockland County, New York
Provides information about the release of ABFEs in Rockland County

ABFE Information for New Jersey and New York:  Glossary of Map Layers and Key Terms
Document featuring descriptions of the data layers shown on FEMA's Advisory maps.

ABFE FAQ Webpage
Answers are provided for other frequently asked questions about Advisory Base Flood Elevations.

National Flood Insurance Program

This page is FEMA's comprehensive source of information about BW-12 and changes underway to the NFIP due to this legislation.  An FAQ and video, in addition to numerous fact sheets and publications are included on this page.

FloodSmart.gov
The official website of the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) contains a wealth of helpful information about flood insurance, including tools to help you determine policy coverage, estimate rates and find an agent in your area.

Information about Elevation Certificates 

FEMA's Homeowner's Guide to Elevation Certificates fact sheet and Elevation Certificate webpage provide information about what elevation certificates are (forms that document a building's elevation) and how they are used in relation to flood insurance and building requirements.
 
This document can be used by homeowners and others to understand the impact of subsidy elimination on buildings with the lowest floor below the Base Flood Elevation as a result of the Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act. (Homeowners should contact their insurer for property-specific rates).

Mitigation

Recovery advisory bulletins are being developed by FEMA's Mitigation Assessment Team (MAT) studying the damages from Hurricane Sandy.  They offer mitigation measures that could be taken to minimize damage to buildings.

The entire series of recovery advisory bulletins is currently available online.

Rebuilding

Changes in the Flood Insurance Program: Preliminary Considerations for Rebuilding
Document provides answers to questions regarding recent changes to the NFIP as a result of the Biggert-Waters 2012 legislation passed by Congress and how those changes to the Program may affect you.

Rebuilding in an AE Zone
This fact sheet provides information for property owners about rebuilding in an AE Zone following Hurricane Sandy and the benefits of building higher.


Rebuilding in a VE Zone
This fact sheet provides information for property owners about rebuilding in a VE Zone following Hurricane Sandy and the benefits of building higher.


Rebuilding After Hurricane Sandy:  Building Safer and Stronger Pays Off
This fact sheet provides information on how rebuilding using recently released FEMA flood hazard data will provide long-term cost savings to property owners.

Brochure provides information regarding the recent changes to the NFIP as a result of the Biggert-Waters 2012 legislation, how to reduce risk and premiums, and how to manage future flood risk.
 
Hurricane Sandy Road to Recovery:  A New York Homeowner's Guide is a FEMA publication available to inform homeowners affected by Sandy of different options and resources available for recovery.

This toolkit explains building codes, their value to occupant safety and community resilience, as well as tools and resources for a variety of audiences, including property owners and the general public.

Recovery/Mitigation Funding Sources

Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) Webpage
FEMA’s webpage devoted to information on ICC coverage available to flood insurance policy holders.  Topics covered include how much coverage is available, what is covered and when and how to file an ICC claim.

ReNEW Jersey Stronger
Funding options for New Jersey homeowners are provided through the reNEW Jersey Stronger website.  Options include the New Jersey Home Elevation Program funded by the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program which provides reimbursement of up to $30,000 for elevations of existing single family homes in certain counties severely affected by Sandy.

Other Resources

Region 2 Coastal Video Library
Includes videos about coastal flood risk, mapping, flood insurance, disaster preparedness, and Sandy recovery efforts relevant for the communities and residents of coastal New Jersey and New York.


The pages provides comprehensive information about rebuilding and recovery efforts in the State of New Jersey and includes a helpful FAQ fact sheet for New Jersey homeowners.

The State of New Jersey is requiring the adoption of the updated FEMA flood hazard data as the basis for statewide floodplain development standards.  This FAQ provides additional information on these state requirements.