Charles Jones Blog

Lately there has been talk about new flood maps being released which may assist those in some counties who incurred damage during Hurricane Sandy to make decisions about rebuilding and recommended elevations.  On June 17, 2013 FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) released updated “preliminary work maps” for the New Jersey counties of Atlantic, Hudson, Monmouth and Ocean as well as for the five boroughs of New York City. These new maps replace the ABFE maps for the four New Jersey counties and the five boroughs of New York City.

What are ABFE maps? After Sandy, FEMA released Advisory Base Flood Elevation (ABFE) maps, which indicated how high structures should be elevated to minimize damage from future floods – based on the best information available at the time.  However, since their release there has been criticism that areas in the four New Jersey counties and in the boroughs of New York City were mapped too aggressively and that some properties were inaccurately placed in high risk zones. Critics said the maps would force some residents to rebuild at higher elevations than was actually needed and cause flood insurance premiums to significantly increase. FEMA took another look and determined that upon more detailed study, certain areas should be reclassified. The result is the updated work maps that were released on June 17, 2013. The next stage for these maps will be to move into the preliminary phase and then eventually into legally adopted FIRMs (Flood Insurance Rate Maps), possibly nine months down the road.

ABFE maps are a tool that can be used for rebuilding – but they are not official FIRMs and do not affect the mandatory purchase requirement for flood insurance.  Like the ABFE maps, the more recently-released work maps for the four counties in New Jersey and the boroughs of New York City do not affect the requirement for flood insurance or flood insurance premiums. Only FIRMs are used to determine flood insurance requirements.

While these new maps do not yet affect the mandatory purchase of flood insurance, they are good news for residents who want to rebuild in the areas that were downgraded from highest risk categories. As stated in my earlier blog about ABFE maps found here, it is important for homeowners to work with their community officials, many of whom will not only adopt the standards set forth in the ABFE maps and these updated maps, but may actually set forth even more stringent building specifications.

Information is posted on FEMA’s web site at

Please feel free to call our office if you have any additional questions.


The information provided is for informative purposes only and is not intended to be legal advice or a legal opinion.  For legal advice, please consult an attorney.

Carl Weinberger

Manager, Geographic Services


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