Building Flood Resistant Communities

Floods cost Southern Tier residents, businesses, and local governments
millions of dollars each year.

STC provides technical and planning assistance to promote the development of sustainable, economically-viable communities that are not subject to the devastating impacts of floods and flash floods. The objective is to build the capacity of local governments and other stakeholders for implementing a variety of activities that will reduce the personal and economic impacts of flooding. STC assistance encompasses the following program areas. (Select a topic or scroll down.)

Floodplain Management
Land Use Planning and Regulations
Public Education
Community Rating System (CRS)
Flood Mitigation Planning

Strategy for Flood Resilient Communities
Implementation Strategy for a Flood Resilient Future
Final strategy with recommended actions to enable Southern Tier Central communities to become more resilient to future floods.
Flood Resistant STC Region
Project information.






Online Map Viewers
Planning Tool
Link to online map viewer for Chemung, Schuyler, and Steuben Counties.
How-To Guide for Planning Tool
Tips for using the Planning Tool map viewer.
Online Mappers for Natural Features
Handout with links to additional online maps with natural feature information for central and western New York.

Local floodplain management requirements are intended to reduce the risks associated with new development in regulated floodplain areas. All municipalities in the STC region have enacted floodplain development regulations that are consistent with federal standards (thereby enabling participation in the National Flood Insurance Program). There are opportunities for integrating additional standards into local floodplain management programs.

Floodplain Management Resources
Floodplain Management Standards
STC webpage includes information sheets and forms to assist with implementation of floodplain development requirements.
FEMA Elevation Certificates
Presentation about FEMA’s Elevation Certificate, which is used to document building elevations for flood insurance rating, compliance with floodplain development requirements, and map amendment requests (to change a flood zone). This STC presentation has been approved for Code Enforcement training credit.
Clarification of Floodplain Development Standards
STC recommendations, developed for the Town of Cohocton, to update the Local Law for Flood Damage Prevention and incorporate clarifications to the NYS Model Local Law. The current Model Local Law is available from Department of Environmental Conservation floodplain management staff and includes language allowing non-elevated accessory structures in the floodplain if uses are limited and wet floodproofing techniques are used.
Higher Standards for Floodplain Development
STC developed optional language for higher standards that can be incorporated into local Flood Damage Prevention Laws for consideration by the Town of Southport and Town of Horseheads.
Flood Map Status
This presentation, entitled "No New Flood Maps," summarizes the history and status of FEMA flood hazard mapping efforts that affect Chemung County, as of May 2014.

The land use management authority of local governments presents numerous opportunities for improved management of stream corridors, lake shores, floodplains, and the hydrologic functions of watersheds. Local plans and regulations can be used to promote recreational uses in flood-prone areas, protect or establish vegetated riparian buffers, prevent development in erosion hazard areas, identify and manage flood risks outside of regulated floodplains, prevent stream dumping, protect beneficial floodplain functions, etc. STC provides planning assistance to integrate flood risk management objectives into municipal comprehensive plans, zoning laws, and other land use regulations.

Resources for Land Use Planning and Regulation
Municipal Land Use Strategies for Improving Flood Resilience: Protecting Health, Safety, and Welfare
This guidance document developed by STC provides ideas and resources to help local governments integrate flood hazards into local planning and land use management activities.
Town of Big Flats Conservation Zone
Special Report by STC evaluates the Recreation Conservation District and Conservation Zones in the Town of Big Flats and advises the Town about how to utilize the Conservation Zone to manage flood risks.
Town of Southport Conservation Zone
STC recommendations for revising requirements for the Town of Southport Conservation Zone, which covers the highest risk parts of the floodplain, to restrict development and improve protection of beneficial floodplain functions.
Proposed Conservation District for the Town of Horseheads 
STC recommendation for establishing a Conservation Zoning District for the floodway portions of the Town of Horseheads floodplain in order to restrict development in these high risk areas.
Town of Elmira Littering and Dumping Law
In order to address stream dumping problems, these regulations prohibit “the placement of any refuse, yard waste (leaves, grass clippings, brush, etc.), tires, containers, appliances, fill, or other obstructions in any storm sewer, ditch, stream, river, drainage swale, or detention basin that regularly or periodically carries surface water runoff.” It also prohibits “the placement of any refuse, yard waste, tires, containers, lumber, firewood, or other loose materials within 25 feet of the top of any streambank or riverbank.”
Town of Horseheads Dumping Regulations
The Town of Horseheads prohibits dumping or disposal in “any drainageway, basin, watercourse, stream or ditch.”
Model Drainage and Erosion Control Regulations
This model language can be incorporated into municipal site plan review laws, zoning laws and/or subdivision regulations.
Building a Rural Driveway Guidance
This information sheet gives specific guidance on best practices for building a rural driveway.
Steep Slopes and Land Use Decisions
Guidance explaining not only why consideration of steep slopes is important but how a municipal board can better evaluate steep slopes in land use decisions. The Keuka Lake Watershed has also developed a Steep Slopes fact sheet.
Timber harvesting laws
Timber harvesting operations, if poorly conducted, can have negative impacts due to altered drainage, stream disturbance, erosion, and sediment. The following municipalities have enacted timber harvesting laws to reduce environmental damage: Town of Ashland, Town of Big Flats, Town of Campbell, Town of CatonTown of Corning, Town of Elmira, Town of Horseheads, Town of Orange, and Town of Southport.
Recommendations for Green Infrastructure, Low Impact Development, and Improved Water Quality
Green infrastructure techniques for stormwater management utilize natural features and processes to manage runoff near the source. Good land use regulations can remove barriers and provide incentives for use of green infrastructure practices. STC has reviewed municipal codes for compatibility with recommended green infrastructure standards and developed recommendations for the following municipalities: Town of Southport and Town of Big Flats.


STC provides local government training about a variety of strategies for reducing flood losses, including floodplain management standards, FEMA’s Elevation Certificates, No Adverse Impact (NAI) floodplain management, stream processes, stormwater green infrastructure, comprehensive planning, and other topics.

Training Resources
Model Floods and Real Floods: Keep Your Community Safe
This STC presentation presents tools and strategies that municipalities can use to improve flood resilience.
Resilient Watersheds - The Funnel, the Sponge, and the Slide
"A flood resilient community is one in which residents and institutions have the capacity to prepare for, respond to, and recover from flooding with minimal outside assistance." This STC presentation provides an introduction to watershed functions and presents strategies for achieving flood resilience: (1) Manage water where it falls. (2) Make space for water. (3) Live with floods.
No Adverse Impact Floodplain Management
This STC presentation challenges communities to consider additional strategies for managing flood risks. No Adverse Impact is a “good neighbor” approach based on the premise that it is not right to transfer or worsen a flooding problem. No one has the right to use their property to harm other people. Any adverse impacts should either be avoided or mitigated.
Emergency Stream Intervention
This 90 minute training was prepared by the Upper Susquehanna Coalition to provide municipal leaders and highway superintendents with a basic understanding of stream processes, sources of stream instability, and post-flood stream management strategies.
Recommended Management Practices for Highway Operations
Handout summarizing recommendations for reducing the impacts that highway operations have on local drainage.


Informed citizens are more likely to take voluntary actions to reduce their risks and protect beneficial floodplain functions. STC is developing a Flood Education Plan for the region that identifies key messages, target audiences, and education projects for the region. A stormwater-floodplain model (owned by Environmental Emergency Services) is used for interactive education of both youth and adults.

Resources for Flood Education
Flood Education Messages
Key messages about flood outreach in the Southern Tier of New York (from "Flood Education Plan"). Each message is presented as a short phrase or slogan, followed by bullets explaining why the person should act, what they should do, how those actions reduce losses, and where to learn more about how to proceed.
Flood Education Plan
Regional plan presenting a long-term strategy for flood education in Chemung, Schuyler, and Steuben Counties. The plan identifies key messages and proposed projects.
STC Flood Information
The menu bar at the top left of this page provides links to STC webpages with educational resources on a variety of flood-related topics.
Guidelines for Levee-Protected Areas
Information sheet about managing flood risks in areas protected by levees and floodwalls. STC also developed a poster with key suggestions: Levees reduce - but do not eliminate - the risk of flooding.
Flood Insurance Reforms - Who Is Affected? (August 2014)
Handout about changes to the National Flood Insurance Program that phase in higher flood insurance costs for about half of the policy holders in the STC region. This handout is intended to help people understand how these changes may affect them and what steps they can take.
Flood Insurance Changes
Presentation summarizing changes to National Flood Insurance Program that affect the cost of flood insurance, as of May 2014.
Local Water Issues
Presentation about flood-related water resource issues (flood water, erosion, and sediment) that was given for a panel discussion at a Corning Community College Year of Water event.


Eleven municipalities in the STC region participate in the Community Rating System program by implementing floodplain management, flood mitigation and outreach activities that exceed the minimum requirements of the National Flood Insurance Program. By undertaking activities that save lives and reduce property damage, these municipalities also secure reduced flood insurance policy rates within their communities.

CRS Resources
Introduction to the Community Rating Sytem
Slides from an STC presentation summarize CRS program requirements and credit activities.
FEMA: National Flood Insurance Program Community Rating System
FEMA's CRS web page provides information about the program and a link to the CRS Coordinator's Manual. Program examples, training links, and other information is on the CRS Resources page.
Top 22 Things You Need To Know About The New CRS
Presentation from the Illinois CRS Users Group describes program changes included in the 2013 CRS Coordinator's Manual and tips for adapting existing programs to the new requirements.
CRS--Is It Worth the Effort? (and if not, what changes are warranted?)
This STC presentation outlines the requirements for CRS participation and challenges faced by New York communities. The presentation is designed to inspire discussion of opportunities for improving the program.


The process of preparing a flood mitigation plan or a hazard mitigation plan enables a community to develop a program of activities that can be implemented now—before the next flood. This is a critical step toward coordinated implementation of activities that will reduce future damages from floods.

Flood Mitigation Planning Resources
Implementation Strategy for a Flood Resilient Future
Final strategy for the Flood Resistant Southern Tier Central project summarizes project findings and presents recommendations of future actions for improving the flood resiliency of Southern Tier Central communities.
Reducing Flood Damage in the Southern Tier Central Region
This 1998 plan includes information about the history of flooding, history of flood mitigation, alternative flood damage reduction techniques, and recommendations for reducing the vulnerability of the Southern Tier Central Region to flood damages.
Hazard Mitigation Planning
STC webpage provides links to municipal and county flood mitigation plans and multi-hazard mitigation plans.



Request Assistance

To request training or assistance, contact Janet Thigpen, CFM, STC Flood Mitigation Specialist, 607-737-5271, .

Funding for the “Strategy for a Flood Resistant Southern Tier Central Region” project is provided, in part, by a Local Waterfront Revitalization grant from the New York State Department of State. This project targets the 42 municipalities located along the rivers (Canisteo, Chemung, Cohocton, and Tioga) and Finger Lakes (Keuka and Seneca) in the STC region. Additional assistance is provided through the “STC Water Quality Management Planning Program” with funding from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (Clean Water Act, Section 604(b) project).

This webpage was prepared for the New York State Department of State with funds provided under Title 11 of the Environmental Protection Fund.

STC Regional Planning & Development Board  8 Denison Parkway East Ste 310 Corning, NY 14830
Phone 607.962.5092
Fax 607.962.3400
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