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Federal Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM)
Since 1982, the Town of Tonawanda has been a participating community in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) by adopting and enforcing a floodplain management local law to reduce future flood damage. In exchange, the NFIP makes federally backed flood insurance available to homeowners, renters and business owners in these communities. Community participation in the NFIP is voluntary.

The town has been using the 1982 series of Federal Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) provided by FEMA. We have them in both paper and digital form. The ones in digital form can be used to review particular parcels in the town to see if they are in a floodplain.

Floodplain Development

Any development with the Special Flood Hazard Area, also referred to as the floodplain or 100 year flood zone is highly regulated and must be done is strict accordance with the code. A floodplain development permit is required from the Town Engineer. Fees apply.

Updated Maps

FEMA is preparing to update their maps of Erie County, including the Town of Tonawanda. On January 20, 2011, the Town of Tonawanda filed an Appeal with FEMA on conditions of discharge calculations for Ellicott Creek and the delineation of the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) south of Ellicott Creek. FEMA has accepted the town's protest regarding the boundary of the preliminary SFHA and has further modified the preliminary maps to reflect a reduced area of the SFHA.

The next steps in the process would be as follows:
  • If all Town concerns are adequately addressed, FEMA will issue a Letter of Final Determination (LFD) sometime after the formal 30-day response period expires. There is no defined timeframe for issuance of the LFD.
  • The LFD initiates a 6-month “adoption/compliance period” during which the Communities must enact new or modified floodplain management ordinances required for participation in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Adoption of these ordinances is considered to be a Type I action under SEQR and must follow the appropriate approval procedures.
  • The Town will receive a package from NYSDEC with a model ordinance and directions on how to customize it specifically for the Town of Tonawanda and how to proceed with the formal adoption process.
  • A draft Local Law must be submitted back to the NYSDEC within 3 months. NYSDEC recommends that the Town adopt the new Local Law at least one month prior to the deadline. If the Town fails to adopt the new flood plain management regulations, the community will be suspended from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). It is our general understanding that if this should occur, new mortgage applications for buildings within identified flood hazard areas will likely not be approved and existing mortgages may be affected.
  • At the end of the adoption/compliance period, the maps and FIS report will become effective. A target effective date for the LFD has not yet been set.

For more information, view the New York Mapping Status.
Contact Information
James B. Jones, PE,CFM
Town Engineer
Floodplain Administrator

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