Disaster Preparedness and Assistance Information

For all residents/property owners and constituents in the Town of Hempstead

This information is being offered to alert you that your premises may be located in, or adjacent to, a special flood hazard area (SFHA), as determined by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). As a participant in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), The Town of Hempstead is offering this information to address the problems in various flood zones. The Town of Hempstead Building Department also has Certified Floodplain Managers on staff to answer any questions regarding Flood Hazard Information and Mitigation Activities. 

Terms and Definitions 

BASE FLOOD ELEVATION: The base flood elevation (BFE) is the elevation of surface water resulting from a flood that has a 1% chance of equaling or exceeding that level in any given year.

DESIGN FLOOD ELEVATION: The design flood elevation (DFE) is the elevation of the highest flood (generally the BFE including freeboard) that a retrofitting method is designed to protect against. In the Town of Hempstead, the DFE is the BFE plus two feet of freeboard.

FEMA: The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS), initially created under President Jimmy Carter by Presidential Reorganization Plan No. 3 of 1978 and implemented by two Executive Orders on April 1, 1979. The agency's primary purpose is to coordinate the response to a disaster that has occurred in the United States and that overwhelms the resources of local and state authorities.  

FLOOD INSURANCE RATE MAP: A flood insurance rate map (FIRM) is an 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. 

NATIONAL FLOOD INSURANCE PROGRAM: The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is managed by the FEMA and is delivered to the public by a network of more than 50 insurance companies and the NFIP Direct. The NFIP provides flood insurance to property owners, renters, and businesses, and having this coverage helps them recover faster when floodwaters recede. The NFIP works with communities required to adopt and enforce floodplain management regulations that help mitigate flooding effects.

SUBSTANTIAL DAMAGE: The term “substantial damage” applies to a structure in a Special Flood Hazard Area – or floodplain – for which the total cost of repairs is 50 percent or more of the structure's fair market value before the disaster occurred, regardless of the cause of damage. This percentage rule can vary among jurisdictions. 

SUBSTANTIAL IMPROVEMENT: Substantial improvement, as defined in 44 CFR § 59.1, means any reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition, or other improvements of a structure, the cost of which equals or exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the structure before the start of construction of the improvement.

SPECIAL FLOOD HAZARD AREA: Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) is an area identified by the United States Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) as an area with a special flood or mudflow, and/or flood-related erosion hazard, as shown on a flood hazard boundary map or flood insurance rate map. Areas within the SFHA are designated on the flood insurance rate map as Zone A, AO, A1-A30, AE, A99, AH, AR, AR/A, AR/AE, AR/AH, AR/AO, AR/A1-A30, V1-V30 or V. Land areas that are at high risk for flooding are called special flood hazard areas (SFHAs), or floodplains. These areas are indicated on flood insurance rate maps (FIRMs). 

What to Expect During a Disaster Event

  1. In the event of a flooding event, or any natural disaster of significant magnitude, Town of Hempstead residents and owners should refer to the following information:
    • Notifications of what to do if you are in an affected area will be posted immediately on the town's website.  These notifications will include, but not be limited to:
      • Dedicated phone numbers to contact local officials about imminent dangers or emergencies
      • Guidance on establishing in-person and email consultations with our flood plain managers and code enforcement officers
      • Locations of mobile building department units established throughout the town for local assistance in the hardest-hit areas
    • Once the affected areas are safe to enter, disaster field officials and code enforcement officers will be released to the hardest-hit areas.  These areas have previously been designated by the effects of Superstorm Sandy.  All structures within the SFHA will be assessed based on priority from the most affected areas to the least.  Inspectors will be deployed based on experience and knowledge to ensure each area is given the proper attention.
    • Preliminary damage assessments (PDA) will be conducted and recorded in the office on our online system to allow ease of navigation for the mitigation and rebuilding process.
    • All structures within the SFHA will have notices placed in a conspicuous area of the front of the dwelling with the PDA determination and specific instructions on how to contact the building department and our flood plain managers.
    • Posted notices will be followed by direct mail notifications outlining the same instructions. 
    • Community meetings will be held at local libraries in the affected areas.  Information on those meetings will be posted on the Town of Hempstead's website home page. 

Repair and Rebuilding in a Flood Zone

  • There are two paths of remediation and rebuilding within the flood zone which are based on the extent of damage incurred.  As in all construction cases, a building permit is required to ensure life safety, proper construction practices, and following local, state, and federal codes.
    • Damage sustained of minor character is when the cost of repair of the dwelling to its pre-event and latest legal state is less than 50% of the replacement value of the affected structure.  In this case, a building permit may be issued to remediate and rebuild the structure to its previously approved state.  This is also known as a permit to repair in like and kind and will require a certificate of completion (C/C).
    • A substantial improvement or repair is when the cost of the work to be performed exceeds 50% of the structure's fair market value before the disaster occurred as defined above.  With the use of substantial damage software and our PDA, your property may be immediately determined as substantially damaged and full compliance with NYS and FEMA construction guidelines will be required to obtain a certificate of occupancy (C/O).  This may include raising the dwelling. 

 Code Reference

  • The Town of Hempstead follows local, state, and federal guidelines when it comes to rebuilding and improvements in a flood zone.  
  • For those who are wishing to look into these codes on their own, you may do so using the following link to the Town of Hempstead Building Zone Ordinance, Article XXXIV, FLOOD HAZARD ZONES https://ecode360.com/14497739.
  • The current New York State requirements for residential flood zone construction are found in the 2020 New York State Residential Code, Section 322: FLOOD RESISTANT CONSTRUCTION https://up.codes/viewer/new_york/irc-2018/chapter/3/building-planning#R322.
  • On the federal side, FEMA has also issued numerous technical bulletins describing methods of rebuilding along with diagrams noting acceptable means of achieving flood-resistant construction. However, not all methods have been adopted by New York State.  Please contact your local flood plain administrator to find out more information on specific methods. 

Special Tips for those Living in the Special Flood Hazard Area

  1. If you do not have flood insurance, talk to your insurance agent. Your regular homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover damage from floods. However, because the Town of Hempstead participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, you can purchase a separate flood insurance policy. This insurance is backed by the federal government and is available to everyone. If you have a mortgage and live in a Special Flood Hazard Area, you must have this insurance.
  2. Under the provisions of the Flood Disaster Protection Act of 1973, individuals, businesses, and others buying, building, or improving property located in identified areas of special flood hazards within participating communities are required to purchase flood insurance as a prerequisite for receiving any type of direct or indirect federal financial assistance (e.g., any loan, grant, guaranty, insurance, payment, subsidy or disaster assistance) when the building or personal property is the subject of or security for such assistance.
  3. For map information, contact the Town of Hempstead at 516.489.5000 and ask to speak with the Building Department.
  4. If you need to determine your Base Flood Elevation (BFE), the FEMA Map number, or what Flood Zone your property is located in, please select the following link:  https://msc.fema.gov/portal/home and enter your address into the search field. You can also contact the Building Department as we will be able to provide you with the requested information.
  5. Flood Protection Assistance. The Building Department is available during normal business hours to discuss and assist you with permit requirements, map determinations, lowest level requirements, site visits, and plan reviews to assist you in decreasing the flood damage to your property.  

Storm Tips

  1. Tune to radio stations WGBB, WHLI, Cablevision 12 (Long Island News), or NOAA Weather Radio (162.55 or 162.473) for warnings and further local information.
  2. Establish a personal emergency plan. Familiarize your family with the plan, including your children.
  3. Prepare an emergency supply kit with an adequate supply of water, a can opener, battery-operated radio, flashlights, and a fresh supply of batteries.
  4. Prepare a first-aid kit that includes a 1-2 week supply of your prescription medications.
  5. Prepare your property if you have to evacuate.
  6. Evaluate what important papers you should take with you.
  7. Businesses must also establish a plan and fully train their employees. Evaluate your plan yearly and update accordingly.
  8. Do not attempt to return to your home or business unless the town emergency office has lifted the evacuation order.
  9. Since drowning is the number one cause of death during a flood, you should be very careful walking through flooded areas. Do not drive through flooded areas.
  10. Stay away from power lines and electrical wires. Report any downed wires to the power authority, or emergency personnel.