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Living With Levees

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 reduce the risk to 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.

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View the So, You Live Behind a Levee! brochure developed by the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) to understand the basics about levees and how to prepare for flood events.

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 reduce the risk to their families, businesses, and communities from the threat of flooding.

Resource Libraries

Use the tools FEMA has created to better understand the relationship between levees and flood risk.

Understand the Reality of Levee Risk

Explore information on levee risk and taking action to prepare for levee-related flooding by stakeholder group.

Contact Us

For additional information or assistance, contact a Map Specialist in the FEMA Mapping and Insurance eXchange (FMIX).

Sign up for emails to receive levee and other flood hazard mapping updates.