Living with Levees: It’s a Shared Responsibility

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The following is an overview of best practices and resources for community officials when communicating with stakeholders (e.g., residents, business owners, insurance professionals, realty professionals, lending professions, and community leaders) following the de-accreditation of a levee.

Community Officials: Levee Outreach Resources for De-Accredited Levees

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

Levee deaccreditation counseling Public distribution of flood amelioration information Flood recovery counseling

Communication Lessens Concern

When community leaders, business owners, and residents learn that the levees they rely on may no longer meet Federal standards for reducing flood risk, they are understandably concerned. They will have questions about safety, what is being done to improve the situation, how they are being affected and what options they have. The best approach is to address their concerns as quickly and directly as possible. This section provides fact sheets and other materials to help you reach out to residents and business owners, a range of professional groups and internally to community leaders and other departmental staff.

Residents and Business Owners: Communication is Key

When a levee can no longer meet Federal standards for reducing the flood risk, nearby residents and business owners must be informed about the change in risk. They also need to know how the change affects them and the options available, including that flood insurance will become a requirement for most mortgage holders. As a community official, you can defuse anxiety by helping people understand what is taking place, why, and their options.

A good initial step is to notify property owners of the increased flood risks, what is being done to address the risks, why new flood insurance requirements are being put in place and the timeline for change. Property owners may be able to save money on flood insurance premiums by purchasing flood insurance before the new requirements take effect.

Insurance, Realty and Lending Professionals: Communicate Early and Often

When a levee can no longer meet federal standards for reducing the flood risk, property owners understandably become concerned. When they learn they will need to purchase flood insurance, concerns multiply. Knowledgeable insurance agents can play a major role in reducing anxiety. To do so, agents must know what is happening, whom it will affect and their role in the process well before new maps go into effect.

When flood insurance requirements change, people planning to buy or sell property – and the lending and real estate professionals involved in the transactions – all must be aware of what will be taking place and when. If not, property closings may be disrupted. Letting the local real estate association and its members know about pending levee de-accreditation and the map change process keeps them informed and enables them to educate potential homebuyers. You should also ensure that lenders and mortgage brokers serving your area are aware of and prepared for the changes.

The first step is to engage these professionals and inform them about the upcoming changes and what it will mean for affected property owners. For the insurance professionals, you may also want to work with NFIP trainers to make sure there is a training event in your area. You can notify agents of training dates and times by mail, through trade newsletter announcements and at local meetings. Information about the National Flood Insurance Program training program is located online.

Community Leaders: Internal Outreach is a Must

When changes in flood risk status occur, property owners have questions - and so will your community leadership. To assure a smooth transition, make certain elected officials, department staff, community groups and other stakeholders are kept informed as the process moves forward. With this information, they will be prepared to answer questions about the mapping and accreditation process, community safety, changes and effects of new building and flood insurance requirements, and any steps being taken to improve the levees.

Material for Local Outreach

The following materials will help you inform other community leaders and department staff, business groups, and property owners about the increased flood risk, new building and flood insurance requirements and answer common questions that will arise. This will allow them to better understand and talk about the changes, their effects and the options available. You will also find resources that help explain the flood insurance implications of levee and map changes.

For More Information

For flood insurance related questions, contact FloodSmart at 1-888-379-9531. For flood mapping-related questions, please contact a Map Specialist at the FEMA Map Information eXchange through the following methods:

  • Call (1-877) FEMA MAP (1-877-336-2627) Monday through Friday, 8:00 am through 6:30 pm (EST)
  • Email
  • Chat with a Map Specialist Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (EST)

Please register to receive FEMA Flood Hazard Mapping activities, including updates on levee-related activities, via e-mail.

Last Updated: 
11/24/2014 - 18:23
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