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> Planning - Climate Adaptation

Climate Adaptation

Contents         Plans and Studies

The Adaptation Chapter (1.89 MB) of the Tompkins County Comprehensive Plan states that

Tompkins County should be a place where the entire community is prepared for the economic, environmental, and social impacts of climate change.

It is the policy of Tompkins County to:

  • Maintain floodways and limit development within floodplains to reduce damages from floods.
  • Improve connectivity of open space to prevent fragmentation of ecosystems and isolation of plant and wildlife populations.
  • Promote adaptation measures that lessen climate impacts on the local economy.
  • Encourage actions that protect vulnerable populations from the impacts of climate change.
  • Prepare for community recovery in the event of disaster.

Plans and Studies

Tompkins County Resiliency and Recovery Plan

Through grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the New York State Department of State (DOS), the Tompkins County Department of Planning & Sustainability is leading the development of a countywide Resiliency and Recovery Plan. This plan includes each of the municipalities in Tompkins County along with a broad group of stakeholders in an effort to better reduce risk associated with hazards and the changing climate as well as to better prepare for long term recovery from disaster events.


This plan will work to:

  • Update the County Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP)
  • Develop an analysis of critical infrastructure vulnerability to flooding and drought
  • Develop a plan for local community involvement in FEMA's Community Rating System (CRS)
  • Develop a debris management plan, and
  • Develop key community recovery tools.

Based on the development of these component plans, an integrated Resiliency and Recovery Plan will outline key actions local government, agencies, and businesses can take to build community resiliency.

2020 Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) Update

The 2020 HMP Update will be the initial component developed as part of the overall Tompkins County Resiliency and Recovery Plan.  The current HMP identifies natural and man-made hazards of concern in our region, assesses our specific vulnerabilities to those hazards, and seeks to identify projects and measures that may reduce damages from future hazards.  This update will look at the existing hazards of concern and identify any additional hazards of concern for Tompkins County.

The HMP update will serve as the plan for Tompkins County government, as well as 16 jurisdictions (city, towns, and villages) in the county who have opted to participate in this cooperative planning effort.  Each participating jurisdiction will have its own chapter (or annex) of the overall plan.

In 2013, Tompkins County along with the Towns of Caroline, Danby, Dryden, Enfield, Groton, Ithaca, Lansing, Newfield, and Ulysses; the Villages of Cayuga Heights, Dryden, Freeville, Groton, Lansing, Trumansburg, and the City of Ithaca, updated the 2006 Tompkins County Hazard Mitigation Plan.  This plan was updated in accordance to FEMA’s requirement of updating plans every five years.  The plan allowed the County and participating municipalities to remain eligible for FEMA pre-disaster mitigation funding.

Through the Tompkins County Department of Planning & Sustainability, the County’s 2013 HMP is being updated and includes all municipalities in the County.  This plan is required by state and federal agencies in order for communities in Tompkins County to be eligible for certain types of non-emergency disaster assistance, including funding for mitigation projects.  The ultimate goal of hazard mitigation is to reduce loss of life and property, lessening the impact of disasters. 

This webpage will be used throughout the planning process to post information, collect comments, announce meetings, and to post draft and final documents. 

  • Tompkins County Resiliency and Recovery Plan: Hazard Mitigtion Plan - Steering Committee 1 - May 13, 2020
  • Tompkins County Resiliency and Recovery Plan: Hazard Mitigation Plan - Steering Committee 2 - June 30, 2020
  • Tompkins County Resiliency and Recovery Planning Partnership: Hazard Mitigation Plan - Meeting 1 - July 13, 2020
  • Tompkins County Resiliency and Recovery Plan: Hazard Mitigation Plan - Steering Committee 3 - August 26, 2020
  • Tompkins County Resiliency and Recovery Plan: Hazard Mitigaiton Plan - Risk Assessment Workshop - September 16, 2020
  • Tompkins County Resiliency and Recovery Plan: Hazard Mitigation Plan - Mitigation Strategy Workshop - October 22, 2020

What is hazard mitigation?

Disasters can cause loss of life, damage buildings and infrastructure, and have devastating consequences for a community’s economic, social, and environmental well-being.  Hazard mitigation is a sustained action taken to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to life and property from a hazard event.  It is often considered the first of the four phases of emergency management – mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.  Mitigation is an important step in creating a more resilient community.

While mitigation actions can and should be taken before a disaster occurs, after a disaster is when hazard mitigation is essential.  After a disaster strikes, it is common to make repairs and reconstruction to restore damaged property to pre-disaster conditions.  Even though these efforts help an area get back to normal,  replication of pre-disaster conditions may result in a repetitive cycle of damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage.  Hazard mitigation helps break the cycle by reduce risk and creating a safer, more disaster-resilient communities.  When a community is more resilient, it has the ability to adapt to changing conditions and prepare, withstand, and rapidly recovery from a disaster.

What is mitigation planning?

Mitigation is most effective when it is based on a comprehensive, long-term plan that is developed before a disaster occurs.  The purpose of mitigation planning is to identify local policies and actions that can be implemented over the long term to reduce risk and future losses from disasters.  Section 322 of the Disaster Mitigation Action of 2000 (DMA 2000) specifically addresses mitigation planning and requires state and local governments to prepare multi-jurisdictional mitigation plans as a precondition for receiving FEMA mitigation project funding.  Benefits of mitigation planning include:

  • Identifying actions for risk reduction
  • Focusing on the greatest risks and vulnerabilities within a community
  • Building partnerships by involving residents, organizations, and businesses
  • Increasing public education and awareness of threats and hazards
  • Communicating priorities to state and federal officials; and
  • Aligning risk reduction with other community objectives

How does the Plan benefit Tompkins County?

A HMP will assist Tompkins County and its jurisdictions with the following:

  • An increased understanding of the natural and man-made hazards the County faces.
  • Development of more sustainable and resilient communities.
  • Eligibility for federal funds for pre-disaster mitigation planning before disaster strikes.
  • Potential financial savings to residents, including flood insurance premium reductions.
  • Reduced long-term impacts and damages to human health and structures, and reduced repair costs.

What are the different types of mitigation actions?

There are four primary types of mitigation actions to reduce long-term vulnerability and include:

  • Local Plans and Regulations – plans, policies, or codes that influence the way land and buildings are developed and built
  • Structure and Infrastructure Projects – upgrading existing structures and infrastructure to protect them from a hazard or remove from hazard area; constructing manmade structures to reduce the impact of hazards
  • Natural Systems Protection – minimize damage and losses and preserve/restore the functions of the environment
  • Education and Outreach Programs – inform and education citizens about hazards and ways to mitigate them

Common mitigation actions may include the following:

  • Enforcement of building codes, floodplain management codes and environmental regulations
  • Public safety measures such as upgrades of roadways, culverts and dams
  • Acquisition or relocation of structures, such as purchasing buildings located in a floodplain
  • Acquisition of hazard prone lands in their undeveloped state to ensure they remain so
  • Retrofitting structures and design of new construction such as elevating a home or building
  • Protecting critical facilities and infrastructure from future hazard events
  • Mitigation, disaster recovery and Continuity of Operations (COOP) planning
  • Development and distribution of outreach materials related to hazard mitigation
  • Deployment of warning systems
  • Drainage system upgrades

Added Information