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Community Officials: Levee Outreach Resources for Non-Accredited Levee Systems

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.

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

 Houston, Texas, 9/29/05 -- FEMA employee Margaret Montgomery helps an applicant at the Houston disaster recovery center located on the south 610 loop. Assistance is also available in this building from HUD, NFIP, food stamps, the Texas attourney general, consumer protection, public safety, Venterans' Affairs, and crisis counseling, and many others. Photo by: Liz Roll Clay County, Minn., April 25, 2009 --  Red Cross workers Connie Eggers (r) and Chris Bauer (c) talking with a riverfront resident near Moorhead, MN; FEMA federal partners like the Red Cross deploy teams to specifically address disaster related stress through one on one counseling - including smiles. Mike Moore/FEMAFargo, N.D., April 17, 2009 --Sandra Thomason and Charles Kumball,FEMA mitigation specialists, talk with Governor John Hoeven at the Fargo Disaster Recovery Center (DRC).   FEMA is working with state and local officials to provide services to residents who have been affected by the recent floods.  Photo by Patsy Lynch/FEMA

Communication Lessens Concern

When community leaders, business owners, and residents learn that the levee system they rely on may no longer provide the expected reduction of hazards, , they are understandably concerned. They will have questions about safety, what is being done to improve their safety and reduce their flood risk, how they are being impacted, compliance with Federal standards 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 and explain these topics 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 system can no longer meet Federal standards for reducing flood hazard, nearby residents and business owners must be informed about this change in hazard. They also need to know how the change impacts them. In most cases, mortgage holders will need to purchase flood insurance if they are mapped in a Special Flood Hazard Area on FEMA’s FIRM panels. As a community official, you can defuse anxiety by helping people understand what changes in FIRM panels are taking place, why the flood hazard information is changing, and what their options may be.

A good initial step is to notify property owners of the increased flood risk, what is being done to address the risk, 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 new FIRM panels take effect. There are multiple options to help keep insurance costs low, including the NFIP’s Preferred Risk Policy, Newly Mapped Procedure, and Grandfathering. with a federal insurance requirement. Additionally, this is a good opportunity to inform property owners about other mitigation actions they can take to further reduce their risk. Go to fema.gov/mitigation to learn more.

Insurance, Realty and Lending Professionals: Communicate Early and Often

When a levee system can no longer meet Federal standards for reducing the flood hazard, 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 impact and both the agent and the community’s role in the process well before new maps go into effect.

When flood insurance and floodplain management requirements change, people planning to buy or sell property – and the lending and real estate professionals involved in the transactions – all should 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 system de-accreditation and the associated 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 impacted property owners, not just in terms of their insurance or floodplain management requirements, but also their heightened risk. 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. Additionally, professionals should be aware of the multiple options to help keep insurance costs low, including the NFIP’s Preferred Risk Policy, Newly Mapped Procedure, and Grandfathering with a federal insurance requirement.

Community Leaders: Internal Outreach is a Must

When changes in flood hazards 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 mapping process moves forward. With this information, they will be prepared to answer questions about the mapping and accreditation process, community safety, changes and impacts of new building and flood insurance requirements, and any steps being taken to improve the levees. This is also an important opportunity to encourage community leaders to revisit hazard mitigation and evacuation planning to encourage best practices to reduce further risk from flooding.

Levee Outreach Toolkit Materials

The following materials will help you inform other community leaders and department staff, business groups, property owners, and others about the possibility of increased flood hazards ,new building and flood insurance requirements, or provide answers to common questions that may arise. This will allow them to better understand and talk about the changes, their effects, and the options available to reduce their risk.

Outreach to the General Public

Outreach to Insurance Professionals

Outreach to Real Estate and Lending Professionals

Additional levee outreach materials that can be used by Real Estate, Lending and Insurance Professionals are available through the Real Estate, Lending and Insurance Professionals:  Levee Mapping Status page.

Find additional outreach materials that will help you communicate about flood risk in the Flood Outreach Toolkit.

For More Information

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 FEMAMapSpecialist@riskmapcds.com
  • Chat with a Map Specialist Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (EST)

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

Last Updated: 
11/01/2018 - 14:21