Floodplain Management

flooding in Mt. Tremper during Hurricane Irene

See below for infor­ma­tion on: Flood Insur­ance | Flood Mit­i­ga­tion Fund­ing Pro­grams | Flood Haz­ard Maps

Floods are a fact of life in the Ashokan Water­shed. Most recent­ly in 2011, the mas­sive dam­age caused by Trop­i­cal Storms Irene and Lee made this even more appar­ent. It’s impor­tant to remem­ber when look­ing at a stream peace­ful­ly flow­ing with­in its chan­nel that at high flows, the stream occu­pies the land adja­cent to the chan­nel called the “flood­plain.”

His­tor­i­cal­ly, small com­mu­ni­ties in our steep, moun­tain­ous region have been sit­u­at­ed on or near large flood­plains, some­times at stream con­flu­ences. Our chal­lenge now is to man­age and reduce the risk of flood­ing and ero­sion to com­mu­ni­ties. One way to approach this is to main­tain the abil­i­ty of streams to move water, sed­i­ment, and debris through pop­u­lat­ed areas while using the nat­ur­al capac­i­ty of flood­plains to store water and reduce haz­ards else­where in the stream system.

Com­mu­ni­ties and prop­er­ty own­ers can take action to reduce flood risks, includ­ing: 1) avoid­ing future devel­op­ment in areas sub­ject to repet­i­tive flood dam­ages; 2) flood proof­ing and ele­vat­ing struc­tures to reduce dam­ages where exist­ing infra­struc­ture is at risk; and 3) devel­op­ing ear­ly warn­ing sys­tems, flood response plans, and com­mu­ni­ty flood mit­i­ga­tion plans.

Recent­ly, AWSMP pro­vid­ed fund­ing to the Town of Shan­dak­en to cre­ate a Flood Mit­i­ga­tion Plan for the greater Shan­dak­en com­mu­ni­ty. Over the next few years, AWSMP will expand assis­tance to water­shed munic­i­pal­i­ties for local flood haz­ard mitigation.

AWSMP also pro­vides assis­tance with flood recov­ery and response fol­low­ing major flood events. Fol­low­ing Trop­i­cal Storms Irene and Lee, Ulster Coun­ty Soil & Water Con­ser­va­tion Dis­trict tech­ni­cians assist­ed high­way depart­ments and the Nation­al Guard with restor­ing streams back into their orig­i­nal chan­nels and cre­at­ing designs to help alle­vi­ate future flood­ing. Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster Coun­ty employ­ees pro­vid­ed guid­ance to area landown­ers and worked with local code enforce­ment offi­cers and build­ing depart­ments to deter­mine the appro­pri­ate scale of dam­ages for sub­mit­tal of claims to FEMA.

diagram of floodplain during low flow and high water events
Water flows onto the flood­plain dur­ing a high water event.

Flood Insurance

The Nation­al Flood Insur­ance Pro­gram (NFIP) offers flood insur­ance to home­own­ers, renters, and busi­ness own­ers. Par­tic­i­pa­tion in the NFIP is based on an agree­ment between com­mu­ni­ties and the Fed­er­al gov­ern­ment. Through the NFIP, the Fed­er­al Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency (FEMA) pro­vides maps of haz­ardous areas and pro­vides fed­er­al­ly backed flood insur­ance. In return, com­mu­ni­ties agree to enact and enforce flood­plain reg­u­la­tions intend­ed to min­i­mize the threats to life and prop­er­ty. All com­mu­ni­ties in the Ashokan Water­shed par­tic­i­pate in the NFIP.

In July 2012, the U.S. Con­gress passed the Big­gert-Waters Flood Insur­ance Reform Act of 2012 (BW-12) which calls on the Fed­er­al Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency (FEMA), and oth­er agen­cies, to make a num­ber of changes to the way NFIP is run. Some of these changes already have occurred, and oth­ers will be imple­ment­ed in the com­ing months. Key pro­vi­sions of the leg­is­la­tion will require the NFIP to raise rates to reflect true flood risk, make the pro­gram more finan­cial­ly sta­ble, and change how Flood Insur­ance Rate Map (FIRM) updates impact pol­i­cy­hold­ers. The changes will mean pre­mi­um rate increas­es for some—but not all—policyholders over time. Home­own­ers and busi­ness own­ers are encour­aged to learn their flood risk and talk to their insur­ance agent to deter­mine if their pol­i­cy will be affect­ed by BW-12. For more infor­ma­tion vis­it FEMA’s web­site on NFIP changes.

Flood Mitigation Funding Programs

Trop­i­cal Storms Irene and Lee as well as Super­storm Sandy struck our region hard over the past few years. In response to the destruc­tion they caused, var­i­ous lev­els of gov­ern­ment (fed­er­al, state and local) have allo­cat­ed mon­ey to grant pro­grams to help with recov­ery and revitalization.

Recreate NY Smart Home Program

If Super­storm Sandy, Hur­ri­cane Irene or Trop­i­cal Storm Lee dam­aged your res­i­den­tial prop­er­ty, you may be eli­gi­ble for finan­cial assis­tance to ele­vate your home, which can reduce flood insur­ance rates. To apply for finan­cial assis­tance, vis­it the Recre­ate NY Smart Home web­site and click on the “Apply Here” but­ton, or call 1–855-NYS-Sandy

Fund­ing Avail­able: $663 mil­lion on a first come, first-served basis.

Eli­gi­bil­i­ty: Home­own­ers and busi­ness own­ers in Ulster and Sul­li­van counties.

Match Required: No

Admin­is­tered by: New York State Depart­ment of State

Web­site: http://www.nysandyhelp.ny.gov/

Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP)

The Haz­ard Mit­i­ga­tion Grant Pro­gram (HMGP) pro­vides grants to states and local gov­ern­ments to imple­ment long-term haz­ard mit­i­ga­tion mea­sures after a major dis­as­ter dec­la­ra­tion. The pur­pose of the HMGP is to reduce the loss of life and prop­er­ty due to nat­ur­al dis­as­ters and to enable mit­i­ga­tion mea­sures to be imple­ment­ed dur­ing the imme­di­ate recov­ery from a dis­as­ter. The HMGP is autho­rized under Sec­tion 404 of the Robert T. Stafford Dis­as­ter Relief and Emer­gency Assis­tance Act.

Fund­ing Avail­able: Varies by dis­as­ter declaration.

Eli­gi­bil­i­ty: State and local governments.

Match Required: 25% local share

Admin­is­tered by: Fed­er­al Emer­gency Man­age­ment Agency and New York State

Web­site: http://www.fema.gov/hazard-mitigation-grant-program

Local Flood Analysis (LFA)

Local Flood Haz­ard Mit­i­ga­tion Analy­sis is a New York City fund­ed pro­gram devel­oped at the request of West of Hud­son NYC Water­shed com­mu­ni­ties. The pro­gram funds a two-step process to con­duct engi­neer­ing analy­sis to deter­mine the caus­es of flood­ing and eval­u­ate mit­i­ga­tion options artic­u­lat­ed in a flood haz­ard mit­i­ga­tion plan, fol­lowed by project design and implementation.

Fund­ing Avail­able: $2,000,000 in the Ashokan Water­shed for eli­gi­ble pop­u­la­tion centers.

Eli­gi­bil­i­ty: Open only to eli­gi­ble West-of-Hud­son NYC Water­shed communities.

Match Required: No

Admin­is­tered by: Cor­nell Coop­er­a­tive Exten­sion of Ulster Coun­ty and Ulster Coun­ty Soil and Water Con­ser­va­tion District.

Web­site: Con­tact local Stream Man­age­ment Pro­gram offices for addi­tion­al details.

NY Rising Community Reconstruction Program

This is a New York State pro­gram whose pur­pose is to devel­op com­pre­hen­sive local rebuild­ing plans for spec­i­fied com­mu­ni­ties affect­ed by Irene, Lee and Sandy. Funds will also be used to imple­ment mea­sures iden­ti­fied in approved plans.

Fund­ing Avail­able: $3 mil­lion for Town of Shan­dak­en; up to $3 mil­lion for oth­er Ulster Coun­ty Communities.

Eli­gi­bil­i­ty: Town must devel­op a CRZ plan to access imple­men­ta­tion funds.

Match Required: No

Admin­is­tered by: NYS Depart­ment of State

Web­site: http://nysandyhelp.ny.gov/community-reconstruction-program

Flood Hazard Maps

The Nation­al Flood Insur­ance Act of 1968 direct­ed the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment to iden­ti­fy all flood prone areas with­in the Unit­ed States and estab­lish risk zones with­in those areas. In response, FEMA cre­at­ed maps depict­ing areas mod­eled to have a high­er risk of flood­ing. (Areas not in mapped zones can still flood!) The maps are called Flood Insur­ance Rate Maps, although most peo­ple sim­ply know them as FIRMs.

The FIRMs depict areas sub­ject to addi­tion­al reg­u­la­tions because of the flood haz­ards, or the “reg­u­lat­ed flood­plain.” As part of the Nation­al Flood Insur­ance Pro­gram (NFIP), the fed­er­al gov­ern­ment pro­vides FIRMs and flood insur­ance to com­mu­ni­ties that agree to reg­u­late devel­op­ment in high-risk flood areas. FIRMs form the basis for fed­er­al­ly back flood insur­ance rates.

FEMA recent­ly updat­ed FIRMs for parts of Ulster Coun­ty. Pre­lim­i­nary FIRMs, Flood Insur­ance Study (FIS) reports, and FIRM data­bas­es are avail­able to towns in the Ashokan Water­shed. In the com­ing months, munic­i­pal­i­ties will be review­ing the maps and con­sid­er­ing them for adop­tion. Ulster Coun­ty has pro­vid­ed a fact sheet explain­ing NFIP and FIRM revi­sions for residents.

Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs)

Pre­lim­i­nary FIRMs can be viewed with par­cel bound­aries on the Ulster Coun­ty Par­cel View­er.  The Pre­lim­i­nary FIRMs and Flood Insur­ance Study for the Ashokan Water­shed are avail­able as pdfs for down­load. (These are large files and may take some time to down­load.) Print­ed maps are avail­able at your Town Hall.

Flood Insurance Studies