Application of Flood Risk Reduction Standard for Sandy Rebuilding Projects

Note: The FRRS does not supersede current USACE guidance for incorporating the direct and indirect physical effects of projected future sea-level change across the project life cycle in managing, planning, engineering, designing, constructing, operating, and maintaining USACE projects and systems of projects.

The Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force (TF) announced on 4 April 2013 that all Sandy-related rebuilding projects funded by Public Law 113-2 must meet a single uniform flood risk reduction standard (FRRS) of one foot above the best available and most recent base flood elevation (BFE) information provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

The base flood is an event that has a one percent chance of occurrence in any given year (commonly known as a 100-year flood). This term is used in the National Flood Insurance Program to indicate the minimum level of flooding to be assumed by a community in its flood plain management regulations. The FRRS applies to advisory BFEs, preliminary work maps, or published BFEs on Flood Insurance Rate Maps, whichever provides the best available and most recent BFEs in the Sandy recovery region.

The FRRS takes into account the increased risk to the region from extreme weather events, sea level rise and other impacts of climate change, is informed by the best science and best practices, including assessments taken following Hurricane Sandy; and brings the Federal standard into alignment with many state and local standards already in place. State and local governments in the Sandy recovery area have been encouraged to review their local conditions and needs and, where appropriate, build to an even higher standard when planning critical infrastructure projects and/or where future conditions indicate higher risk. Where Federal, state and local standards exceed this standard, Federal agencies will be guided by the higher standard. For example, the State of Maryland has issued a higher standard in its 2013 report "Climate Change and Coast Smart Construction Infrastructure Siting and Design Guidelines."

The FRRS applies to USACE vertical infrastructure and nonstructural flood proofing projects located in the Sandy recovery area as described by the guidelines presented in an Engineering and Construction Bulletin. The objective of the FRRS is to improve the resilience and sustainability of USACE-funded vertical construction infrastructure and nonstructural mitigation in the Sandy recovery area to extreme weather events, sea level rise and other impacts of climate change in a manner consistent with other Federally-funded Sandy recovery projects.


FRRS Flowchart

Tool for application of flood risk reduction standard for Sandy rebuilding projects

ECB 2013-33 (pdf)

Other Sea Level Calculator Tools



Web Tool

The web tool provides a procedure to establish applicability, determine best available base flood elevation (BFE), and calculate the minimum flood risk reduction elevation required using the following steps:

  1. Establish whether the project is located within or outside the applicable geographic area of the Sandy recovery area containing projects funded by Public Law 113-2;
  2. Establish whether the project is funded by Public Law 113-2;
  3. Determine best available base flood elevation (BFE) for the project location and the nearest long-term tide gauge with acceptable record length;
  4. Add one foot to the BFE to determine the minimum FRRS elevation.
  5. Identify whether the applicable local minimum flood risk reduction standard is more restrictive (i.e., larger) than the minimum FRRS. If so, add the local FRRS to the BFE to obtain the local FRRS elevation;
  6. The most restrictive (highest) elevation in steps d and e will be the required minimum elevation of the first floor of vertical infrastructure and for rebuilding or incorporating nonstructural retrofits to existing structures


  1. Public law 113-2, "Disaster Relief Appropriations Act, 2013."
  2. Executive Order 11988 "Floodplain Management."
  3. Presidential Policy Directive 21, "Critical Infrastructure Security and Resilience,"
  4. Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force Flood Risk Reduction Standard, 4 April 2013.
  5. ER 500-1-1, "Emergency Employment of Army and Other Resources - Civil Emergency Management Program [PL84-99 RIP]."
  6. ER 1100-2-8162, “Incorporating Sea Level Change in Civil Works Programs.”
  7. ER 1105-2-100, "Planning Guidance Notebook."
  8. ER 1165-2-26, "Implementation of Executive Order 11988 on Flood Plain Management."
  9. EP 1165-2-314, "Flood Proofing."
  10. EM 1110-2-3102, "General Principles of Pumping Station Design and Layout."
  11. EM 1110-2-3104, "Structural and Architectural Design of Pumping Stations."
  12. ECB 2013-27, "Use of Non-NOAA Tide Gauge Records for Computing Relative Sea Level Change."
  13. USACE National Flood Proofing Committee.
  14. Additional information on nonstructural policies may be found in the Water Resources Development Act of 1974, the Water Resources Development Act of 1996, and the Water Resources Development Act of 1999.
  15. Planning guidance.