Living with Levees - It's a Shared Responsibility

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Know Your Risk, Know Your Role, Take Action Today!

The Reality of Levee Risk

The United States has thousands of miles of levee systems built to help contain or control the flow of water to reduce the risk of flooding; but not all levees are alike. For example, some levees around residential areas were originally built long ago to protect farmland. Other levees in urban areas were designed to reduce the impacts of flooding, but only from a certain size flooding event.

While levees can help reduce the risk of flooding, it is important to remember that they do not eliminate the risk. Levees can and do deteriorate over time and must be maintained to retain their effectiveness. When levees fail, or are overtopped, the results can be catastrophic. In fact, the flood damage can be greater than if the levee had not been built. For those living or working near levees, it is important to understand the risk, learn the facts, and be aware of steps that can be taken to protect their families, businesses, and communities from the threat of flooding:

Home and Business Owners

Many people living or working near a levee believe that it will always protect them from flooding. Although levees may be designed to the highest engineering standards, levees can and do fail. Learn more about flood risk and the steps that can be taken to minimize that risk.

Community Officials

As a leader, it is important to understand and clearly communicate the risk and issues surrounding levees with your constituents. By working with FEMA and other federal agencies, information and local plans can be developed to better educate citizens, make communities safer and help assist in making a rapid recovery when levees do fail. Learn more about communicating effectively with citizens to increase their understanding of flood risk and the steps they can take to reduce it.

Real Estate, Insurance, and Lending Professionals

For most property owners, their homes or businesses are their greatest investments. Property owners turn to you as a trusted source of information whether buying, selling, or providing the proper financial protection. Learn more about helping your customers understand their risk of living or working behind levees and what they can do to reduce it.

Cooperating Technical Partners (CTPs), Engineers, Surveyors, and Contractors

Find detailed information on FEMA’s levee accreditation and mapping requirements, and learn about the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ role in levee assessment at the CTPs, Engineers, Surveyors and Contractors Levee Home page.


Members of the media play a vital role in telling the stories about levees. The FEMA Levee Resources for the Media webpage outlines resources to help members of the press accurately report the risks associated with living and working near levees and inform the public how they can take steps to reduce these risks.

For More Information

Visit FEMA’s Levees Resources Library, a one-stop-shop for information available online about levee-related topics, including levee basics, levee risk, levee safety and mapping. Highlighted resources include webpages, interactive learning tools, and topical fact sheets.

For more information or additional assistance:

Additional Links and Resources

FEMA Links

Levee Resource Library
Map Service Center

FEMA Fact Sheets

NFIP & Levees: An Overview
The NFIP and Levee Systems: Frequently Asked Questions

Last Updated: 
03/23/2015 - 15:47
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