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FEMA Issues Revised Flood Insurance Rate Maps for Tompkins County, NY

There will be two Open Houses on Flood Risk and Insurance, on April 26 and 27, 2023.

TOMPKINS CO, NY — Local, state and federal officials are working to reduce the effects of severe weather and natural disasters. On January 18, 2023, FEMA released preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for Tompkins County for public comments. The new maps give updated information about communities’ flood risk and are used to identify areas that may require flood insurance coverage. FEMA, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and Tompkins County community officials invite residents to join them at two Flood Risk and Insurance Open Houses on:

Wednesday, April 26, 2023
4:30 to 8:30 p.m.

at the:
Ithaca High School Cafeteria

1401 North Cayuga Street

Ithaca, NY 14850




Thursday, April 27, 2023
4:30 to 8:30 p.m.

at the:
Tompkins County Whole Health Building

55 Brown Road

Ithaca, NY 14850


The Open Houses will not have a formal presentation. Residents can attend at any time between 4:30 and 8:30 p.m., for any length of time. At the Open House, community members will be able to talk one-on-one with FEMA representatives, to learn more about their flood risk and to get information on potential changes to flood insurance rates and requirements. If you already have flood insurance, please bring a copy of your declaration page. Residents can also see PDFs of preliminary versions of the Flood Insurance Study (FIS) report and the FIRMs here and view them digitally at FEMA's FIRM Viewer of Tompkins County.

The previous FIRMs for Tompkins County were paper maps dating from the 1980s. The new maps are available online, providing an additional level of transparency for residents as compared to previous paper-only maps. They also help community members make decisions about how to protect themselves from future flood events. The maps and FIS report are the basis for each community’s floodplain management regulations.

Due to these map changes, some properties in Tompkins County may be included in a high-risk flood zone, known as the Special Flood Hazard Area, for the first time. This may lead to those affected property owners being required to buy flood insurance. Flooding is the number one natural disaster in the United States. Community members should know their current flood risk and use the available tools and programs to make their property and community safer.

To request a reasonable accommodation (sign language, real-time captioning or other), please email or, or call (833) 285-7448, FEMA’s Civil Rights Resource Line.

To learn more or to access the flood maps, visit FEMA's FIRM Viewer of Tompkins County. Visit to learn about flood insurance. You may also contact a map specialist at the FEMA Mapping and Insurance eXchange (FMIX) at (877) 336-2627 or  

For Open House questions, reach out to FEMA's outreach lead, Lisa Blake, at



Open House Frequently Asked Questions

What changes will we see on the new Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM)?

Some buildings may be included in the high-risk area for the first time. This area is known as a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). However, some buildings may no longer be in the SFHA.

  • If the building is currently mapped in an SFHA, but will be outside the SFHA on the new FIRM, flood insurance is no longer federally required. Flood insurance is still recommended, for both homeowners and renters.
  • Mortgage companies or lenders may still require you to buy flood insurance.

Can I view my home on the new preliminary FIRM before the Open House?

Yes. You can view an address on the preliminary map at FEMA's FIRM Viewer of Tompkins County. Call the FEMA Mapping and Insurance eXchange (FMIX) at 877-336-2627 to get specific details about your location.

Who should attend the Flood Risk Open House?

Everyone should attend a Flood Risk Open House, especially if:

  • Your property is currently mapped within an SFHA.
  • Your property is newly mapped within an SFHA.
  • You currently have flood insurance.
  • You are not sure or want to learn more.

If you are unsure of your flood risk, you can view the preliminary FIRM at FEMA's FIRM Viewer of Tompkins County. You can also call the FMIX at 877-336-2627.

What happens at the Flood Risk Open House?

Property owners can meet one-on-one with FEMA representatives. They will discuss the preliminary FIRM updates. They can also ask and answer questions about flood insurance.

Do I have to stay at the Open House for the entire time?

No. You can drop in at any time between the hours listed. Plan to spend about an hour at the Open House to get the details you need.

The Open House is set up so you can move between information stations. You may choose which stations or experts to visit.

What should a homeowner bring to the Flood Risk Open House?

Bring an address to learn more about that property’s flood risk. If you already have a current flood insurance policy or elevation certificate, it is recommended to also bring these with you as they may provide more specific details about your flood insurance options.

Do I have to buy flood insurance?

Flood insurance rates are determined in part by the FIRM that is in effect at the time.

  • If the new preliminary FIRM shows your property in a high-risk flood area, and you have a mortgage through a government-backed lender:
    • You must buy flood insurance.
    • This flood insurance is required once the preliminary FIRM goes into effect.
  • There is time—updated maps are planned to go into effect in late 2024.
  • Wherever it rains, it can flood. Buying flood insurance is a good idea for property owners and renters, even in low-risk areas.

Can I buy insurance at the Open House?

No. Flood insurance is available through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), a federally underwritten program. You can buy an NFIP policy through any state-licensed property and casualty insurance agent. A specialized agent provides insurance options; they can help you decide which is best for you. Find an agent at

Can I change the new maps?

You can formally appeal information that is on the new maps. The Open House is a great place to learn more about the appeal process. This includes how to file an appeal or comment. If you cannot attend the Open House, your local floodplain manager’s office is a great place to find out more about comments or appeals. You can learn more about the process here.


3/8/2023 FEMA and Local Officials (CCO) Meeting Information


Tompkins County and other municipal officials attended a presentation on March 8 offered by representatives from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Region 2 office on the topic of floodplain mapping and the timeline for implementation of new Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) for the County. Present with FEMA were New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) engineers, floodplain management officials from New York State, and representatives from the organizations who completed the local mapping.

Due to FEMA identifying the need to modernize the existing 1980s-era Flood Insurance Rate Maps, Tompkins County will receive updated Maps resulting in flood insurance requirements for property owners in affected areas as well as updates to existing flood damage prevention regulations at the municipal level. Municipalities are required to adopt the new maps to participate in the National Flood Insurance Program, which allows residents to purchase insurance through the program.

The updated Flood Insurance Rate Maps identify new geographic areas of the County as susceptible to flooding. Map changes can be due to several factors including changes in the topography and land uses in those areas, surface alterations (i.e. paved surfaces increasing the potential for water runoff), updated storm and rain gauge data, and changes to flood control channels. The process to determine the updated maps for Tompkins County began in 2014. See documents from FEMA’s presentation below:


Attachments sent by FEMA as follow up from the March 8, 2023 Local Officials (CCO) Meeting:

Tompkins County Local officials (CCO) Meeting with FEMA Slides (March 2023)

Slides from the Local Officials Meeting held by FEMA also known as the Consultation Coordination Officer (CCO) Meeting held by FEMA on March 8, 2023.

Tompkins County, NY Consultation Coordination Officer (CCO) Meeting Summary Report (March 2023)

Summary Report of the Tompkins County Local officials (CCO) Meeting

Floodplains for Non-accredited Levee Scenario (October 2021)

Slides from FEMA’s Floodplain Internal Review Meeting on October 8, 2021

Levee Analysis and Mapping Plan Ithaca Flood Protection Project (May 2018)

Analysis and Mapping Plan created by FEMA and RiskMap for the City and Town of Ithaca in May of 2018