Skip to content
Back to Top


Sitka skyline with Mt. Edgecomb

Community Risk MAP Studies: City and Borough of Sitka

FEMA and the State of Alaska are conducting a coastal Risk MAP Study in the City and Borough of Sitka that began in 2013.

City and Borough of Sitka Risk MAP Discovery Documents

Discovery is the first part of the Risk MAP process. During this initial phase, the State, FEMA and local entities work together to collect data regarding local flood and other hazard risks. FEMA has data on national and regional levels, however FEMA relies heavily on information and data provided by communities because local officials are able to provide a holistic view of their communities and their known risks. The State prioritizes a watershed for Discovery based on evaluations of risk, need, availability of elevation data, regional knowledge of issues, and local input. After this data is collected, the study is evaluated on an extensive list of criteria.

City and Borough of Sitka Risk MAP Coastal Study Documents

If a flood risk project is appropriate for the watershed and the project involves flood engineering analysis, the project team will conduct additional coordination with the impacted communities to discuss anticipated changes to the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) and Flood Insurance Study (FIS). The Risk MAP Project Team and community officials will review the scope of the projects, requirements for both the communities and the study team, draft schedules, and assign tasks for updates. Prior to work starting on any risk assessment or flood insurance study mapping, a meeting must be held with the community to share the scope of work and explain the deliverables resulting from the Risk MAP project. FEMA will also provide a partnership agreement to the community. This is a non-binding document that outlines roles and responsibilities for the new Risk MAP project.

City and Borough of Sitka Risk MAP Draft Work Maps

Draft Workmaps are an interim or “draft” product that FEMA shares with communities in advance of the release of the Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs) to get early input on the mapping and underlying data.

Following the release of the Draft Workmaps, FEMA and the State will schedule a Flood Risk Review (FRR) Meeting with the local jurisdiction (See next drop-down).

Preliminary Flood Insurance Rate Maps and Flood Insurance Study

The release of preliminary data is an important step in a community’s flood mapping lifecycle. There are several benefits for the public and professionals in viewing their community’s preliminary data before it becomes an effective FIRM:

  • Allows the public to voice their opinions or concerns regarding how the data may affect them or to question data accuracy
  • Insurance agents can compare existing FIRMs with preliminary FIRMs to see how their clients may be affected. However, policies cannot be written using preliminary data
  • Loan and mortgage brokers can use preliminary data as a guide to determine whether a property may be mapped into a high-risk area, allowing the borrower to be informed of any changes or requirements before finalizing the loan
  • Real estate agents and brokers can determine what changes are likely to occur and how it might affect any properties for sale
  • Engineers, developers and builders can plan for safer construction

Locate and Open a Preliminary DFIRM Panel Using a Map of Sitka

Resilience Documents and Workshop

Resilience is the final phase of the Risk MAP process when stakeholders of the Risk MAP process reflect on how the new information, tools and products of the Risk MAP study can be used to increase resilience in the community. A Resilience Workshop is an in-person meeting led by FEMA, the State Risk MAP Coordinator and the Risk MAP Project Team. The goal of the meeting is to help communities understand the results of the risk assessment products and to develop resilience-focused strategies using the new data and resources. During this meeting FEMA, State and Local officials engage with the mapping partners to identify the hazard risks through the use of the Risk MAP Products Suite, providing a new perspective and understanding of flood risk within their community.

Region X Service Center Quarterly Reports

Development of a Flood Insurance Rate MAP

Study Scope

The scope of work of the City and Borough of Sitka Risk MAP Study includes (see also the map below):

  • LiDAR acquisition of the study area
  • A detailed coastal flood hazard analysis including the collection of storm surge (coastal hydrology) and overland wave height analysis (coastal hydraulics), as well as floodplain boundaries for 1-percent and 0.2-percent-annual-chance (100- and 500-year) flood events. 0.67 miles of Swan Lake will be updated using approximate modeling and 1 mile of Indian River will be redelineated using new LiDAR.
  • All datasets will be in the in the North American Vertical Datum of 1988.
Regulatory Products
  • Preparation of a regulatory Flood Insurance Study (FIS) Report document to the Community. A FIS is a book that contains information regarding flooding in a community and is developed in conjunction with the FIRM. The FIS, also known as a flood elevation study, frequently contains a narrative of the flood history of a community and discusses the engineering methods used to develop the FIRM. The study also contains flood profiles for studied flooding sources and can be used to determine Base Flood Elevations for some areas.
  • Preparation of a regulatory Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM) for all panels within the Community which identifies the Community's flood zones, base flood elevations, and floodplain boundaries. This map is used to determine where the purchase of flood insurance is required for properties with federally-backed mortgages.
Non-Regulatory Products
  • Guidance, feedback, coordination and technical support throughout the Risk MAP Project Life Cycle.
  • A Changes Since Last FIRM map and dataset that identifies areas where the Special Flood Hazard Area, floodway, and/or flood zone designations have changed since the previous flood study. Engineering factors that may have contributed to the changes such as data used and level of study performed will also be identified. Estimates of structures affected by the changes will be quantified and summarized to capture increases/decreases in known risk areas and enable local officials to better plan for outreach needs.
  • 1% annual-chance depth grids for coastal areas and approximate riverine analysis. Depth grids depict the depth of flooding at locations throughout a community and when combined with other information, such as first floor elevations, are invaluable in understanding risk.
  • Areas of inundation associated with +1, 2, and 3 feet increase to the base flood elevation for coastal areas to be used for planning purposes to represent sea level rise. Elevation increase values can also be adjusted using local sea level rise data as requested by the community.
  • A Risk Report which include narratives on multiple hazards and risk exposure, and explains the risk assessment methodology and results for each community. The risk report will provide loss estimations using Hazus for flood, earthquake, and tsunami hazards. Flood depth grids and USGS ShakeMaps will be incorporated into the Hazus analysis. Local data will be added to Hazus for more accurate results. Other natural hazards will include a summary and an exposure analysis.
  • A Flood Risk Database which houses data collected, created, and analyzed during the project. This data can be used by the City and Borough of Sitka to recreate maps, develop reports and other products, and to perform additional analysis.
  • Highlighted areas where risk reduction actions may produce the highest return on investment.
  • Technical assistance for HAZUS projects.
  • Areas of Mitigation Interest findings and recommendations based on best available data.
  • Mitigation planning technical assistance

Project Status

Recent Activity

The Letter of Final Determination (LFD) was issued on February 1, 2019. An LFD is a letter FEMA sends to the Chief Executive Officer of a community stating that a new or updated FIRM or DFIRM will become effective in six months. The letter also notifies each affected flood-prone community participating in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) that it must adopt a compliant floodplain management ordinance by the maps’ effective date to remain participants in good standing. Not doing so will lead to suspension from the NFIP. If assistance is needed, communities should contact their Regional Floodplain Management Specialist, Karen Wood-McGuiness, at, or the Alaska State NFIP Coordinator, Harmony Curtis, at

Next Steps

The maps and FIS will become effective on August 1, 2019. Effective maps will be available for download on FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center website ( Around this date, your community officials will receive in the mail the Revalidation Letter that lists previously issued Letters of Map Change (LOMC) that have been reaffirmed for the new FIRM. The Revalidation Letter becomes effective one day after the publication of a community’s new or revised final FIRM. The Revalidation Letter does not list LOMCs that have been incorporated into the revised panel, LOMCs that are superseded by new or revised mapping, or LOMCs that are no longer valid. While the Summary of Map Actions (SOMA) is a preliminary assessment of which LOMCs may still be valid after the new maps are issued, the Revalidation Letter is the final, effective determination of the LOMCs which remain valid. The SOMA and the Revalidation Letter are meant to assist community officials in the maintenance of the community’s FIRM.

When the maps go effective, the community is expected to have updated its floodplain ordinances to reflect this better information in order to remain participants in good standing in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Not doing so will lead to suspension from the NFIP. If assistance is needed, communities should contact their Regional Floodplain Management Specialist, Karen Wood-McGuiness, at, or the Alaska State NFIP Coordinator, Harmony Curtis, at

FEMA finalized a draft multi-hazard Risk Report for the Sitka area as part of the ongoing Risk MAP study, which was provided to the community on January 30, 2019. The Risk Report includes a risk assessment of earthquake, erosion, flood, landslides, and tsunami hazards. Hazus, FEMA’s loss estimation software, was used to assess earthquake and flood results. Additionally, FEMA has worked with the State of Alaska Department of Geological and Geophysical Surveys Division (DGGS) to conduct an even more extensive study of the landslide hazards and risks in the area which has been integrated into the Risk MAP Risk Report. Resilience Workshop will be held to discuss the assessment results and risk reduction strategies.

Project Schedule

The following table illustrates project status and includes major milestones with dates:

Activity Actual or Projected End Date
Discovery Interview June 5, 2013
Discovery Meeting August 5, 2013
Partnership Agreement Finalized August 1, 2014
Develop Hydraulic Data Summer 2015
Perform Coastal Analysis Summer 2015
Discovery Report Finalized July 31, 2015
Draft Work Maps Issued July 31, 2015
Flood Risk Review Meeting February 2, 2016
Preliminary DFIRM/FIS Release June 30, 2016
Consultation Coordination Officers (CCO) Webinar October 13, 2016
Public Meeting/Open House January 25, 2017
90-Day Appeal Period Start Date February 27, 2017
90-Day Appeal Period End Date May 28, 2017
Revised Preliminary DFIRM/FIS Release September 12, 2018
Draft Multi-Hazard Risk Report January 30, 2019
Letter of Final Determination Issued February 1, 2019
Draft Risk Assessment Database March 15, 2019
Risk MAP Resilience Workshop To Be Determined*
Final Multi-Hazard Risk Report + Risk Assessment Database To Be Determined*
DFIRM/FIS Effective Date August 1, 2019

*All projected dates are subject to revision as the project progresses

Map of Sitka Study Scope

The red line denotes the extent of the City and Borough of Sitka coastal mapping study
Sitka Study Scope Map
Click on image to open larger map

Contact for More Information

Sally Russell Cox
State of Alaska Risk MAP Coordinator
Division of Community and Regional Affairs
Department of Commerce, Community, and Economic Development
550 West 7th Avenue, Suite 1650
Anchorage, AK 99501-3569
Phone (907) 269-4588
Fax (907)269-4539

Revised 10/27/2023