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Planning - Climate Adaptation

Climate Adaptation

Contents         Plans and Studies

The Adaptation Chapter (1.89 MB) of the Tompkins County Comprehensive Plan states that

Tompkins County should be a place where the entire community is prepared for the economic, environmental, and social impacts of climate change.

It is the policy of Tompkins County to:

  • Maintain floodways and limit development within floodplains to reduce damages from floods
  • Improve connectivity of open space to prevent fragmentation of ecosystems and isolation of plant and wildlife populations
  • Promote adaptation measures that lessen climate impacts on the local economy
  • Encourage actions that protect vulnerable populations from the impacts of climate change
  • Prepare for community recovery in the event of disaster

Plans and Studies

Tompkins County Resiliency and Recovery Plan

Through grants from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the New York State Department of State, the Tompkins County Department of Planning & Sustainability is leading the development of a countywide Resiliency and Recovery Plan. This plan includes each of the municipalities in Tompkins County along with a broad group of stakeholders in an effort to better reduce risk associated with hazards and the changing climate as well as to better prepare for long-term recovery from disaster events.

Resiliency and Recovery Plan Virtual Meeting



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This Resiliency and Recovery Plan includes the following components:

2021 Tompkins County Hazard Mitigation Plan (HMP) Update 

Through the Tompkins County Department of Planning & Sustainability, the County’s 2014 HMP has been updated and includes all municipalities in the County.  This plan is required by state and federal agencies in order for communities in Tompkins County to be eligible for pre-disaster mitigation projects.  The ultimate goal of hazard mitigation is to reduce loss of life and property, lessening the impact of disasters. 

The HMP Update was approved by FEMA in September 2021 and adopted by Tompkins County in October 2021. Each of the jurisdictions within Tompkins County are actively going through the adoption process. The HMP Update identifies natural hazards of concern in our region, assesses our specific vulnerabilities to those hazards, and seeks to identify projects and measures that may reduce damages from future hazards. The Update further serves as the initial component developed as part of the broader Tompkins County Resiliency and Recovery Plan. 

The HMP Update is organized in two separate volumes as outlined below. Each PDF is bookmarked for ease of reference. 

Volume I (22MB) Volume II (21MB)


Hazard Mitigation Plan Appendices
  • Appendices
    • A - Adoption Resolution
    • B - Participation Matrix
    • C - Meeting Documentation
    • D - Public and Stakeholder Outreach
    • E - Supplemental Data
    • F - Critical Facilities
    • G - Plan Review Tools
    • H - Mitigation Catalog
    • I - NYS DHSES Guidance
    • J - Linkage Procedures

A presentation on an overview of the HMP 2021 Update was provided to the Planning, Energy, and Environmental Quality Committee of the Tompkins County Legislature on September 27, 2021.

Questions on on the HMP Update can be directed to Darby Kiley of the Tompkins County Department of Planning and Sustainability. 

This page is also used to document various aspects of the planning process including agendas and minutes from the following meetings:

  • TC Resiliency & Recovery Plan: HMP Update - Steering Committee Meeting 1 - May 18, 2020
  • TC Resiliency & Recovery Plan: HMP Update - Steering Committee  Meeting 2 - June 30, 2020
  • TC Resiliency & Recovery Planning Partnership: HMP Update - Meeting 1 - July 13, 2020
  • TC Resiliency & Recovery Plan: HMP Update - Steering Committee Meeting 3 - Aug. 26, 2020
  • TC Resiliency & Recovery Plan: HMP Update - Risk Assessment Workshop - Sept. 16, 2020
  • TC Resiliency & Recovery Plan: HMP Update - Mitigation Strategy Workshop - Oct. 22, 2020

What is hazard mitigation?

Disasters can cause loss of life, damage buildings and infrastructure, and have devastating consequences for a community’s economic, social, and environmental well-being.  Hazard mitigation is a sustained action taken to reduce or eliminate long-term risk to life and property from a hazard event.  It is often considered the first of the four phases of emergency management – mitigation, preparedness, response, and recovery.  Mitigation is an important step in creating a more resilient community.

While mitigation actions can and should be taken before a disaster occurs, after a disaster is when hazard mitigation is essential.  After a disaster strikes, it is common to make repairs and reconstruction to restore damaged property to pre-disaster conditions.  Even though these efforts help an area get back to normal,  replication of pre-disaster conditions may result in a repetitive cycle of damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage.  Hazard mitigation helps break the cycle by reducing risk and creating safer, more disaster-resilient communities.  When a community is more resilient, it has the ability to adapt to changing conditions and prepare, withstand, and rapidly recover from a disaster.

What is mitigation planning?

Mitigation is most effective when it is based on a comprehensive, long-term plan that is developed before a disaster occurs.  The purpose of mitigation planning is to identify local policies and actions that can be implemented over the long term to reduce risk and future losses from disasters.  Section 322 of the Disaster Mitigation Action of 2000 (DMA 2000) specifically addresses mitigation planning and requires state and local governments to prepare multi-jurisdictional mitigation plans as a precondition for receiving FEMA mitigation project funding.  Benefits of mitigation planning include:

  • Identifying actions for risk reduction
  • Focusing on the greatest risks and vulnerabilities within a community
  • Building partnerships by involving residents, organizations, and businesses
  • Increasing public education and awareness of threats and hazards
  • Communicating priorities to state and federal officials
  • Aligning risk reduction with other community objectives

How does an HMP benefit Tompkins County?

An HMP will assist Tompkins County and its jurisdictions with the following:

  • An increased understanding of the natural and man-made hazards the County faces
  • Development of more sustainable and resilient communities
  • Eligibility for federal funds for pre-disaster mitigation planning before disaster strikes
  • Potential financial savings to residents, including flood insurance premium reductions
  • Reduced long-term impacts and damages to human health and structures, and reduced repair costs

What are the different types of mitigation actions?

There are four primary types of mitigation actions to reduce long-term vulnerability:

  • Local Plans and Regulations – plans, policies, or codes that influence the way land and buildings are developed and built
  • Structure and Infrastructure Projects – upgrading existing structures and infrastructure to protect them from a hazard or remove from hazard area; constructing manmade structures to reduce the impact of hazards
  • Natural Systems Protection – minimize damage and losses and preserve/restore the functions of the environment
  • Education and Outreach Programs – inform and educate citizens about hazards and ways to mitigate them

Common mitigation actions may include the following:

  • Enforcement of building codes, floodplain management codes, and environmental regulations
  • Public safety measures, such as upgrades to roadways, culverts, and dams
  • Acquisition or relocation of structures, such as purchasing buildings located in a floodplain
  • Acquisition of hazard-prone lands in their undeveloped state to ensure they remain so
  • Retrofits of existing structures and design of new construction, such as elevating a home or building
  • Protecting critical facilities and infrastructure from future hazard events
  • Mitigation, disaster recovery, and continuity of operations (COOP) planning
  • Development and distribution of outreach materials related to hazard mitigation
  • Deployment of warning systems
  • Drainage system upgrades

Added Information