FEMA Flood Risk Information

 FEMA’s Open House on Flood Risk and Insurance:

When & Where:

Wednesday, April 26, 2023, 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Ithaca High School Cafeteria 1401 North Cayuga Street 

Thursday, April 27, 2023, 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Tompkins County Whole Health Building 55 Brown Road 

Artboard 2

Community members can connect with local officials, FEMA, and New York Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC) representatives, one-on-one to learn:

  • The purpose and benefit of the mapping project, and its timeline. 
  •  What the flood hazard zones on the new maps are, and what they mean. 
  • Local flood risks, and the resources that are available from the state, FEMA, and other partners to reduce risk. 
  • How map changes will affect the requirements for insurance and building.   
  • The importance of flood insurance and how to obtain a policy.  
  • The appeal and comment process.  
  • The benefits of mitigation, as well as the cost and consequences of not acting.
  •  What the local municipality, county, and state are doing to mitigate flood risk.   
  • Where to go for updates and more information.   

City of Ithaca—Flood Information and Frequently Asked Questions


In 2015 shortly after FEMA announced they would be updating flood maps, the city convened a working group to perform a Local Flood Hazard Analysis (LFHA) for areas prone to flooding. The working group consisted of the United States Geological Survey (USGS), engineering faculty from Cornell University, Tompkins County Soil and Water District, Tompkins County Planning Department, and the City of Ithaca Department of Public Works (DPW).  The goal of the working group was to identify flood risks in the city and evaluate mitigation options before FEMA released their new flood maps.  At the outset the working group believed, and it was confirmed, that the 1981 FEMA flood maps greatly underestimated flood risks in the city. 

The USGS performed their flood study using state-of-the-art modeling techniques that were not available in 1981, which showed a significant increase in the flood inundation areas within the city.  The city hired the engineering firm Barton & Loguidice to use the USGS study and evaluate various mitigation strategies, and the results were published in February 2020. 

In February 2022, and again in January 2023, FEMA published draft and preliminary flood maps for review and comment.  FEMA used the same advanced flood modeling techniques used by the USGS but used more conservative assumptions in their model, resulting in similar but more extensive flood inundation areas.  Because of the similarities in the USGS and FEMA flood models, the city believes that the mitigation measures identified in the 2020 LFHA report are still valid. 

DPW Presentation to the City of Ithaca Planning and Development Board

Related Maps, Reports & Studies links:

USGS Flood Report

2020 Local Flood Hazard Analysis Report

Interactive GIS Flood Maps 

Preliminary FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMS):

The FEMA Flood Insurance Study (FIS):