Living with Levees: It’s a Shared Responsibility

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Community Officials: Levee Outreach Resources for Provisionally Accredited Levees

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

Construction consultation Public distribution of flood zone information Flooded roadway with emergency responder

Communication Lessens Concern

When citizens and elected community officials learn the reduced risk offered by nearby levees is being reviewed, they will have questions. They will want to know about possible effects on property values, possible changes in flood insurance and building requirements, and what is being done to assure safety. The best approach is to answer such questions as quickly and honestly as possible.

When the levee is provisionally accredited, the flood maps will recognize the levee as continuing to meet Federal standards of reducing the risk for flooding; the area behind the levee will be mapped as a moderate-risk area. However, the provisional designation serves as a reminder to those living and working near the levee that there is always a risk of flooding.

Levees can fail or be overtopped by a larger flood than the levee was designed to contain resulting in potentially catastrophic flooding. More than 20 percent of all flood claims come from moderate-low risk areas and most property owners and renters will qualify for a low-cost Preferred Risk Policy.

It is important residents and business owners understand their risk in these areas and they should be encouraged to take appropriate steps to protect themselves and their properties, both physically and financially.

Residents and Business Owners: Understanding the Risk

When a community re-examines the level of risk reduction provided by a levee, residents and business owners will have questions. They will want to know why levees in the area are now labeled “provisionally accredited” and what this new designation means. They will want to know whether building and flood insurance requirements will change and will they be forced to purchase flood insurance. A good way to defuse anxiety is to make information readily available and make it available early in the process.

Insurance, Realty and Lending Professionals: Making Them Professional Allies

When levees are provisionally accredited, property owners turn to insurance agents for information. Agents can help their clients understand that the risk for flooding is still there and why protection is strongly recommended for those near all levees. They can also point out the considerable flood insurance savings available in moderate-risk zones with the Preferred Risk Policy.

Likewise, real estate transactions may be affected if the situation is not fully understood. To avoid problems, make sure local real estate and lending communities are kept informed about changes in levee designations and how issues of safety and long-term levee viability are being addressed. They, in turn, can inform their clients.

A Provisionally Accredited Levee designation does not change the Federal flood insurance requirements. However, flood insurance reduces the financial devastation that can occur if a levee does fail. For this reason, FEMA recommends flood insurance for all properties in areas near levees. Many property owners and renters in moderate- and low-risk areas will be eligible for low-cost Preferred Risk Policies.

Community Officials: Internal Communication is Critical

Local officials and other departments’ staff will be on the front lines to provide information. Property owners in your community will ask questions about provisional accreditation. Arming community leaders with the facts about the current designation, the risk that still exists should it fail or overtop, and the availability of low-cost flood insurance will help them better answer questions.

Material for Local Outreach

While the Provisionally Accredited Levee designation will not affect flood insurance requirements, a levee failure has the potential to cause catastrophic flooding. The following materials will help you inform other community leaders and department staff, business groups, and property owners about the reduced, but still real flood risk, the continued importance of flood insurance, the timetable for a more permanent determination of the levee status, 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 will help explain the flood insurance implications of levee and map changes.

For More Information

For more information or additional assistance:

Last Updated: 
07/24/2014 - 16:00
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