This section provides community officials with outreach resources and information on provisionally accredited levees. It includes information on the accreditation status of these levees and the risk that comes with living near any levee.
Know Your Risk, Know Your Role, Act Today!
Communication Reduces Concern
When a community’s citizens and elected officials learn that a nearby levee system’s accreditation mapping status is being reviewed, they are likely to have questions. They will want to know about possible effects on property values and changes in National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) flood insurance and building requirements. They will also want to know what is being done to ensure safety. The best approach is to answer these questions as quickly and honestly as possible.
A Provisionally Accredited Levee (PAL) designation means the levee previously met Federal standards for reducing flood hazards, but additional documentation is now required to show that it still complies. The community has been given a reasonable amount of time to gather the necessary data and documentation.
During this period of review, the levee system is temporarily designated as a PAL because the available data indicates it is still likely to reduce flood hazards to the required standards. The flood maps will continue to reflect a moderate flood hazard in areas behind the levee, but the provisional designation serves as a reminder of the existing risk.
It is important for residents and business owners in these areas to understand their risk and take steps to reduce it. There is always a risk of flooding for people who live or work near a levee, because levees can fail or be overtopped by a flood larger than the one the levee was designed to contain. This flooding can be catastrophic. Residents and business owners in these areas should consider their risks seriously and take appropriate steps to safeguard themselves and their properties, physical and financially . More than 20 percent of all flood insurance claims come from areas with a moderate or low flood hazard. However, most property owners and renters living in an area of moderate risk qualify for a low-cost Preferred Risk Policy.
Residents and Business Owners: Understanding the Hazard
When a community re-examines the level of flood hazard reduction a levee provides, 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 whether a Federal requirement to purchase flood insurance will apply. A good way to defuse anxiety is to make information readily available early in the process.
Insurance, Realty, and Lending Professionals: Making Them Professional Allies
When levee systems are provisionally accredited, property owners may turn to insurance agents for information. Agents can help their clients understand that the risk for flooding is still there. They can explain why flood insurance is strongly recommended for properties near all levees. They can also point out the considerable flood insurance savings available by obtaining a Preferred Risk Policy for a home in a moderate to low hazard zone.
Likewise, the presence of a provisionally accredited levee may affect a real estate transaction 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-impacted flood hazard zones and how the 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 fails. For this reason, FEMA recommends flood insurance for all properties in areas near levees. Many property owners and renters in areas with a moderate to low hazard will be eligible for low-cost Preferred Risk Policies.
Community Officials: Internal Communication is Critical
Local officials and staff from other departments 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 for the levee to fail or overtop, and the availability of low-cost flood insurance will help them answer those questions.
Levee Outreach Toolkit Materials
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 levee accreditation status; and ways to answer common questions. This will allow them to better understand and talk about the changes, their effects, and the options available. You will also find resources explaining the flood insurance implications of various levee and map changes.
Outreach to the General Public
- Talking Points (template for local officials)
- Notification Letter to Residents (template for local officials)
- Levees and Flood Insurance: Consider the Risk. Make the Right Choice Fact Sheet (template for local officials)
- What is a Levee? (FEMA fact sheet)
- The NFIP and Levees (FEMA fact sheet)
- Living with Levees: A Shared Responsibility (FEMA fact sheet)
Additional levee outreach materials for Real Estate, lending, and insurance professionals to use are available through the Real Estate, Lending and Insurance Professionals: Levee Mapping Status page.
Find additional outreach materials to help you communicate about flood risk in the Flood Outreach Toolkit.
Answers to the most Frequently Asked Questions are provided for the following user groups: homeowners, engineers, surveyors and architects, insurance professionals and lenders, and floodplain managers.
For additional information or assistance, contact a Map Specialist in the FEMA Mapping and Insurance eXchange (FMIX) through the following methods:
- Call (1-877) FEMA MAP (1-877-336-2627) Monday through Friday, 8:00 am through 7:00 pm (Eastern Time)
- Email FEMAMapSpecialist@riskmapcds.com
- Chat with a Map Specialist Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (Eastern Time)
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