Flood Risk: Protect Your Property

There are a number of strategies you can take to lower your risk of flooding. Some are major alterations to your home and others can be quick and simple solutions to reduce potential damage from flood waters.


Our coastal neighborhoods are a big part of what makes New York City unique. The city’s 520-mile coastline varies dramatically from one neighborhood to the next — dotted with bungalows in some areas, densely packed with row homes in others. This variation in density and housing type makes a one-size-fits-all approach to protecting your property from flood risk unrealistic for New York City. Luckily, there are many different ways to fortify our neighborhoods and strengthen our coast. We refer to this as "mitigation," and it can refer to everything from retrofits to adaptive methods of floodproofing.

Mitigation Options

Some mitigation options cost more than others, some require more effort to adopt, and some provide greater benefits than others. All of these tradeoffs should be considered when choosing which one is right for you. As of now, there are only three measures that have an effect on insurance premiums: home elevation; filling in a basement or crawl space (and wet floodproofing, as needed); and raising mechanical equipment out of the basement (this option provides the smallest insurance reduction of the three, but it can save you a great deal of money in the event of a flood). There are several other actions you can take that do not lower insurance rates, but can help protect your home from flood damage.

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Fill in your basement

Reduces damage to your home’s structural foundation.

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Elevate your home

Puts your house completely above predicted flood water levels.

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Raise your mechanicals

Protects your home’s critical systems.

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Abandon your first floor

This effectively raises the base elevation of your home.

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Install flood vents

Reduce the risk of damage from flood water by allowing it to flow through and drain.

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Backwater Valve

Install a backwater valve

A backwater valve is designed to keep raw sewage out of your home in the event of sewer overflow.

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City planning and retrofitting

City planning retrofitting guide

The most comprehensive analysis of retrofit options available for buildings in the New York City floodplain to date.

Mitigation on a Budget

There are several other actions you can take that do not lower insurance rates, but can help protect your home from flood damage.

  • Replacing carpet with tiles

    Your bathroom is waterproof — why can’t your basement be, too? If your basement has tiles instead of carpet, clean up will be easier and you’ll prevent a few inches of flood water from doing major damage.

  • Install backwater preventers

    Relatively inexpensive and easy to install, backflow preventers stop sewer and stormwater from entering your home through sinks, toilets, and bathtubs when the systems surrounding your home are overwhelmed with flood water.

  • Install a sump pump

    Sump pumps help to drain seepage and water entering buildings through cracks in foundations, porous surfaces and other penetrations such as underground conduits.

  • Floodproof the interior of building systems

    This calls for sealing buildings to keep water out using passive or active mechanical devices such as concrete ring walls around a boiler, floodproof doors or barriers.

  • Install flood damage resistant materials

    Materials such as non-paper-faced gypsum board and terrazzo tile flooring for building materials and furnishings reduces flood damage and speeds post-flood clean up. This option can also include the use of floodproof cabinets and replacing wooden items such as doors with metal or other surfacing water-resistant materials.

Personal Resiliency

As we protect our homes, it’s important to keep in mind that resiliency is not just a physical intervention – it’s also a personal mindset. If resiliency is the ability to anticipate and adapt to adversity, strengthening New York City’s coastal neighborhoods starts with New Yorkers: how we find support in one another, and how we find strength in ourselves.

  • Connect with your community

    Making the effort to meet and support others on your block and in your neighborhood will give you all strength in numbers. And helping others can also benefit the helper – something New Yorkers know well.

  • Take decisive actions

    Rather than detaching completely from problems and stresses and wishing they would just go away, take action. The sooner you act, the sooner you can move towards resolution. Act on adverse situations as much as you can.

  • Move toward your goals

    Instead of focusing on tasks that seem unachievable, ask yourself, "What's one thing I know I can accomplish today that helps me move in the direction I want to go?" Do something regularly — even if it seems like a small accomplishment — that enables you to move forward.

  • Take care of yourself

    Exercise your mind and your body regularly. Pay attention to your own needs and feelings. Take part in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing.

*This section is adapted from the American Psychology Association’s Road to Resilience.