Flood Information

As we have learned over the last several years, the Village of Johnson City is not immune to flooding. The floods in June of 2006 and September of 2011 caused tremendous damage to countless residents and to the Village’s Departments and infrastructure. The resolve and determination of our residents and employees have helped the Village to recover.

The Village strongly encourages our residents to purchase flood insurance. It is not always as expensive as people think and in the event of a flood, the insurance policy can more than pay for itself.

When a flood occurs, FEMA assistance is not always guaranteed.

STEP 1- Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA)

The Preliminary Damage Assessment (PDA) is a joint assessment used to determine the magnitude and impact of an event's damage. A FEMA/State team will usually visit local applicants and view their damage first-hand to assess the scope of damage and estimate repair costs. The State uses the results of the PDA to determine if the situation is beyond the combined capabilities of the State and local resources and to verify the need for supplemental Federal assistance. The PDA also identifies any unmet needs that may require immediate attention.

STEP 2 - Presidential Disaster Declaration

Once a disaster has occurred, and the State has declared a state of emergency, the State will evaluate the recovery capabilities of the State and local governments. If it is determined that the damage is beyond their recovery capability, the governor will normally send a request letter to the President, directed through the Regional Director of the appropriate FEMA region. The President then makes the decision whether or not to declare a major disaster or emergency.

After a presidential declaration has been made, FEMA will designate the area eligible for assistance and announce the types of assistance available. FEMA provides supplemental assistance for State and local government recovery expenses, and the Federal share will always be at least 75 percent of the eligible costs.

Additional Information

2011 Flood - Johnson City, NY
NY Alert is New York State’s All-Hazards Alert and Notification System. You can register to receive emergency information such as road closures and weather events at home, work or on the go. You can choose to receive the information via email, telephone call or through you cellular device. To sign up, go to the NY-ALERT website at www.nyalert.gov or by calling 1-888-697-6972.

Susquehanna River Gage at Vestal

If your property is located in the 100-year floodplain, you should consider purchasing flood insurance. Properties within the 100-year floodplain typically adjoin the Susquehanna River, Boland Park and local streams. In this area there is a one-percent chance in any given year that the water level will rise that high, and flood your property. While this may seem like a small probability, what it really means to you is that there is a 25 percent chance that your home will be flooded during the life of a long-term mortgage. Minor flooding is even more likely. Flood danger is serious. Floods take lives, destroy property, and disrupt services. For most families, a home represents their largest investment. Therefore, the loss due to flood damage and its impact may be great. Structural damage can be extensive and expensive to repair. Damage to the contents of the home can be equally devastating. However, most homeowner’s policies do not cover losses due to flooding. While relief is sometimes granted in the form of disaster aid, this is relatively rare because it depends on how large an area is affected and how badly. For most flooding problems this source of aid is not a reliable source. To reduce the financial impact of flood damage, WE STRONGLY RECOMMEND YOU CONSIDER THE PURCHASE OF FLOOD INSURANCE.

As a resident of Johnson City you are able to buy flood insurance. Our community participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, which enables residents to buy flood insurance at federally subsidized rates. If your bank has not required you to purchase this insurance as a condition of a mortgage, or if you do not already have it, we urge you to see your insurance agent now. Information about the National Flood Insurance Program, types of coverage, or more generally about flood hazards and flood protection, can be obtained through your Insurance Agent, Your Home Library, the Planning Department or the Code Enforcement Office. If you have any further questions, please contact the Planning Department at 797-9098 or the Code Office at 786-2920.

For additional information, please visit www.floodsmart.gov – the website of the National Flood Insurance Program

Johnson City has flood damage prevention regulations, which require a permit to be obtained prior to any construction or other development in the special flood hazard area (map of area is available at the Planning Department and at Your Home Library). Development permits are required not only for construction or alteration but for activities that may affect the capacity of the area to carry off water, i.e. dredging, filling, or excavation. New construction or substantial improvements to a residence are subject to certain standards designed to minimize flood damage. If you are planning to do such work or if you would like more information, contact the Town of Union building inspector.

If your home was built prior to the adoption of the requirements, you can still reduce flood losses by taking measures to protect your home. The following are some common actions that reduce flood damage:

  • Raising the elevation of the structure by putting it up on columns or walls; this works best for small structures with basements. This is not suitable for all homes.
  • Building small levees and flood walls; these protect the enclosed area as well as the structure but require maintenance to remain effective.
  • Use of temporary or permanent covers, wood or metal shields, for openings in homes with otherwise impermeable walls, along with the use of sealants.
  • Choosing varieties of building materials such as paneling, paints or wall coverings which are more water-resistant.
  • Some contents of the building can be permanently raised above expected flood elevation or raised temporarily if warning time is adequate.

NOTE: Flood proofing requires expertise and should be designed by a professional. Some measures, if improperly designed or constructed, can actually increase the amount of flood damage.

Safety In The Event Of A Flood

During heavy rain, monitor the water level of the stream or river closest to you, and stay tuned to local radio and television stations. If a flood warning is issued, get to higher ground. DO NOT ATTEMPT to drive over water covered roadways. TURN AROUND – DON’T DROWN.

Act Now To Be Prepared

  • Learn the safest route from your home or business to high, safe ground should you be evacuated or have to leave in a hurry.
  • Develop and practice a 'family escape' plan and identify a meeting place if family members become separated.
  • Make an itemized list of all valuables including furnishings, clothing and other personal property. Keep the list in a safe place.
  • Stockpile emergency supplies of canned food, medicine and first aid supplies and drinking water. Store drinking water in clean, closed containers.
  • Plan what to do with your pets.
  • Have a portable radio, flashlights, extra batteries and emergency cooking equipment available.
  • Keep your automobile fueled. If electric power is cut off, gasoline stations may not be able to pump fuel for several days. Have a small disaster supply kit in the trunk of your car.
  • Find out how many feet your property is above and below possible flood levels. When predicted flood levels are broadcast, you can determine if you may be flooded.
  • Keep materials like sandbags, plywood, plastic sheeting and lumber handy for emergency water-proofing.

During the Flood

  • Monitor the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Weather Radio or your local radio and TV station broadcasts for information.
  • If local officials advise evacuation, do so promptly.
  • If directed to a specific location, go there.
  • Know where the shelters are located.
  • Bring outside possessions inside the house or tie them down securely. This includes lawn furniture, garbage cans, and other movable objects.
  • If there is time, move essential items and furniture to upper floors in the house. Disconnect electrical appliances that cannot be moved. DO NOT touch them if you are wet or standing in water.
  • If you are told to shut off water, gas, or electrical services before leaving, do so.
  • Secure your home: lock all doors and windows.

Travel With Care

  • Leave early to avoid being marooned on flooded roads.
  • Make sure you have enough fuel for your car.
  • Follow recommended routes. DO NOT sightsee.
  • As you travel, monitor NOAA Weather Radio and local radio broadcasts for the latest information.
  • Watch for washed-out roads, earth-slides, broken water or sewer mains, loose or downed electrical wires, and falling or fallen objects.
  • Watch for areas where rivers or streams may suddenly rise and flood, such as highway dips, bridges, and low areas.
  • DO NOT attempt to drive over a flooded road. Turn around and go another way.
  • DO NOT underestimate the destructive power of fast-moving water. Two feet of fast-moving flood water will float your car. Water moving at two miles per hour can sweep cars off a road or bridge.
  • If you are in your car and water begins to rise rapidly around you, abandon the vehicle immediately

The Hidden Danger - Low-Water Crossing

  • Nearly half of all flash flood fatalities are vehicle related! When driving your automobile during flood conditions, look out for flooding at highway dips, bridges and low areas.
  • Even the largest and heaviest of vehicles will float. Two feet of water will carry most cars away.
  • As little as six inches of water may cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Do not drive through flowing water!
  • A hidden danger awaits motorists where a road without a bridge dips across a creek bed.
  • Motorists develop false confidence when they normally or frequently pass through a dry low-water crossing.
  • Road beds may have been scoured or even washed away during flooding creating unsafe driving conditions.
  • Those who repeatedly drive through flooded low-water crossings may not recognize the dangers of a small increase in the water level.
  • Driving too fast through low water will cause the vehicle to hydroplane and lose contact with the road surface.
  • Visibility is limited at night increasing the vulnerability of the driver to any hidden dangers.
  • Heed all flood and flash flood watches and warnings.
  • Remain aware of road conditions!

After the Flood - Helpful Recovery Tips

  • Listen to the radio or TV for instructions from local officials.
  • Wait until an area has been declared safe before entering it. Be careful driving, since roads may be damaged and power lines may be down.
  • Before entering a building, check for structural damage. Turn off any outside gas lines at the meter or tank. Let the building air out to remove foul odors or escaping gas.
  • Upon entering the building, use a battery-powered flashlight. DO NOT use an open flame as a source of light. Gas may be trapped inside.
  • When inspecting the building, wear rubber boots and gloves.
  • Watch for electrical shorts and live wires before making certain the main power switch is off.
  • DO NOT turn on electrical appliances until an electrician has checked the system and appliances.
  • Throw out any medicine or food that has had contact with flood waters.
  • Test drinking water for portability. Wells should be pumped out and water tested for drinking.
  • If the public water system is declared 'unsafe' by health officials, water for drinking and cooking should be boiled vigorously for 10 minutes.
  • Shovel out mud with special attention to cleaning heating and plumbing systems.
  • Flooded basements should be drained and cleaned as soon as possible. Structural damage can occur if drained too quickly. When surrounding waters have subsided, begin draining the basement in stages, about 1/3 of the water volume each day.

Drainage Basin - A part of the surface of the Earth that is occupied by a drainage system, which consists of a surface stream or a body of impounded surface water together with all tributary surface streams and bodies of impounded surface water. Land area drained by a stream or river.

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) - The federal agency under which the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is administered. In March 2003, FEMA became part of the newly created U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Flash Flood - The result of heavy or excessive amounts of rainfall within a short period of time, usually less than 6 hours, causing water to rise and fall quite rapidly.

Flash Flood or Flood Watch - Indicates flash flooding or flooding is possible within the designated watch area. When a watch is issued, be alert and ready to take action.

Flash Flood or Flood Warning - Flash flooding or flooding has been reported or is imminent. You should take necessary precautions and actions at once.

Flood - An overflow or inundation that comes from a river or other body of water and causes or threatens damage. Any relatively high streamflow overtopping the natural or artificial banks in any reach of a stream. A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is the policyholder's property) from:

  • Overflow of inland or tidal waters; or
  • Unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source; or
  • Mudflow; or
  • Collapse or subsidence of land along the shore of a lake or similar body of water as a result of erosion or undermining caused by waves or currents of water exceeding anticipated cyclical levels that result in a flood as defined above.

Flood Frequency - Refers to a flood level that has a specified percent chance of being equaled or exceeded in any given year. For example, a 100-year flood occurs on average once every 100 years and thus has a 1-percent chance of occurring in a given year.

Flood Hazard Boundary Map (FHBM) - Official map of a community issued by FEMA, where the boundaries of the flood, mudflow, and related erosion areas having special hazards have been designated.

Flood Insurance Claims Office (FICO) - An NFIP claims processing office set up in a catastrophe area when a sufficient number of flood claims result from a single event.

Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) - Official map of a community on which FEMA has delineated the Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs), the Base Flood Elevations (BFEs), and the risk premium zones applicable to the community.

Flood Response Office (FRO) - The FRO provides a local presence in the affected area and supports the WYO companies, the NFIP Servicing Agent, and various federal, state, and local officials in providing answers to claims coverage questions, forms for claims handling, and survey and statistical input. One of the key requirements of personnel at the FRO is to coordinate and conduct reinspections of WYO and NFIP Direct losses. The FRO also tracks adjuster performance and provides such information to interested WYO and NFIP Direct companies.

Flood Stage - The stage at which overflow of the natural stream banks begins to cause damage in the reach in which the elevation is measured. Flood stages for each USGS gaging station are usually provided by the National Weather Service.

Floodplain - Any land area susceptible to being inundated by flood waters from any source. A strip of relatively flat-lying land that borders a stream and is underlain by sediment carried by the stream and dropped in the slack water beyond the influence of the swiftest current.

Floodplain Management - The operation of an overall program of corrective and preventive measures for reducing flood damage, including but not limited to, emergency preparedness plans, flood control works, and floodplain management regulations.

Flood-proofing - Any combination of structural and nonstructural additions, changes, or adjustments to structures, which reduce or eliminate risk of flood damage to real estate or improved real property, water and sanitation facilities, or structures with their contents.

Flood Wall - A primarily vertical artificial barrier designed to temporarily contain the waters of a river or other waterway which may rise to unusual levels during seasonal or extreme weather events. Flood walls are mainly used on locations where space is scarce, such as cities or where building levees or dikes would interfere with other interests, such as existing buildings, historical architecture or commercial exploitation of embankments.

Freeboard - An additional amount of height above the Base Flood Elevation used as a factor of safety (e.g., 2 feet above the Base Flood) in determining the level at which a structure's lowest floor must be elevated or flood proofed to be in accordance with State or community floodplain management regulations.

Gage Datum - An arbitrary datum plane that is established for a particular gaging station to which water-surface elevations can be compared.

Gage Height - See Stage.

Gaging Station - A site on a stream, canal, lake, or reservoir where systematic observations of gage height or water discharge are obtained by a gage, recorder, or similar equipment.

Increased Cost of Compliance - Coverage for expenses a property owner must incur, above and beyond the cost to repair the physical damage the structure actually sustained from a flooding event, to comply with mitigation requirements of State or local floodplain management ordinances or laws. Acceptable mitigation measures are elevation, floodproofing, relocation, demolition, or any combination thereof.

Levee/Dike/Dyke/Embankment - An elongated naturally occurring ridge or artificially constructed fill or wall, which regulates water levels. It is usually earthen and often parallel to the course of a river in its floodplain or along low-lying coastlines.

Peak stage - The maximum height of a water surface above an established datum. Same as peak gage height.

Precipitation - Rain, snow, hail, or sleet.

Real-time Data - Data collected by automated instrumentation and telemetered and analyzed quickly enough to influence a decision that affects the monitoring system.

Recurrence Interval - The average interval of time within which the magnitude of a given event, such as a flood, will be equaled or exceeded one time.

Stage - The height of a water surface above an established datum. Used interchangeably with gage height.

Stream bank - The margins of a stream channel. Banks are called right and left as viewed facing the direction of flow.

Stream flow - The discharge or flow that occurs in a natural channel. Although the term discharge can be applied to the flow of a canal, the word "stream flow" uniquely describes the discharge in a surface stream course.

Surface Runoff - That part of the runoff that travels over the soil surface to the nearest stream channel. It also is defined as that part of the runoff of a drainage basin that has not passed beneath the surface following precipitation.

Surface Water - Water on the surface of the Earth.

Community Rate System (CRS) ACTIVITY 350

FEMA Materials at Your Home Public Library – 107 Main Street, Johnson City, New York

For on-line FEMA information: FEMA Flood Map Service Center at msc.fema.gov

For on-line FEMA | National Flood Insurance Program information: www.floodsmart.gov

Answers to Questions about the National Flood Insurance Program. November 1997

  • FEMA 54  Elevated Residential Structures. Match 1984
  • FEMA 85  Manufactured Home Installation in Flood Hazard Areas. September 1985
  • FEMA 100  A Unified National Program for Floodplain Management. March 1986
  • FEMA 102  Flood Proofing Non-Residential Structures. May 1986
  • FEMA 114  Design Manual for Retrofitting Flood-Prone Residential Structures. September 1986
  • FEMA 186  Mandatory Purchase of Flood Insurance Guidelines. October 1989
  • FEMA P-213  National Flood Insurance Program Assistance Series: Answers to Questions About Substantially Damaged Buildings. May 1991
  • FEMA 234  Repairing Your Flooded Home. August 1992
  • FEMA 258  How to Use a Flood Map to Determine Flood Risk for a Property. May 1988
  • FEMA 268  Protecting Floodplain Resources: A Guide for Communities. June 1996
  • FEMA P-312  Homeowner’s Guide to Retrofitting: Six Ways to Protect Your Home From Flooding. December 2009
  • FEMA P-347  Above the Flood: Elevating Your Flood Proof House. May 2000
  • FEMA P-348  Protecting Building Utilities From Flood Damage. November 1999
  • FEMA P-545s  Ayuda Despues de un Desastre. July 2008
    Protecting Your Home and Property From Flood Damage: Mitigation Ideas for Reducing Flood Loss. August 2008
  • FEMA 545  Help After a Disaster: Applicant’s Guide to the Individuals & Households Program. July 2008 (Braille copy available)
  • Copies of Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM) and Floodway Maps.
  • Guide to Flood Insurance Rate Maps, FIA, May, 1988.
  • Mandatory Purchase of Flood Insurance Guidelines. September 1999.
  • National Flood Insurance Program Regulation. Revised June 2000

Additional Resources

Biggert-Waters Flood Insurance Reform Act of 2012 - Click here for more information.

Homeowner Flood Insurance Affordability Act of 2014 - Click here for more information.