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Living with Levees for Homeowners, Renters, Business Owners and the General Public

Reduce Your Risk

Levee Accreditation Mapping Status

Living and working near levees comes with risk. Levees may reduce risk during certain flood events, but they do not provide protection from flooding. They 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.

Even without a major flood, levees can fail if they are not properly maintained. Improper drainage, erosion, seepage, subsidence, and even earthquakes can all lead levees to fail and result in catastrophic flooding.

If you are living or working near a levee, it is important to understand the risks associated with levees and the steps you can take to prepare for potential floods and help provide a financial safeguard.

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Use FEMA's tools and templates to better understand the relationship between levees, flood risks and insurance.

Take An Active Role In Reducing Your Risk

You can take steps to reduce the risk to your property, and more importantly, your life and the lives of your family members in the event of a flood. It is important to take action now, to be aware of your risk, and to be prepared should flooding occur.

Be Aware of Any Levees in Your Area

Check with your local government officials to find out if you live in an area near a levee, or if nearby levee-related construction or restoration projects are planned in the future. If you do live in a levee-impacted area, ask your local government officials if your area is being re-mapped and if the levee system’s accreditation for providing the minimum level of flood hazard reduction is changing.

Learn more about what changes in accreditation mean and how that may impact your risk of flooding at Levee Mapping Status.

Understand Your Flood Risk

Find out where your home is in relation to any levees, and whether you are in a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA). Use the tools FEMA has created to help communities understand the relationship between levees and flood risks. Again, ask your local government officials if remapping is occurring and if so, how will that impact the levees and the area where you live or work. Get more information on flood hazard remapping.

Prepare For the Worst

Make sure you have an emergency plan for your family and be aware of local evacuation procedures. For more information on preparing a plan, go to

Safeguard Your Financial Future by Purchasing Flood Insurance

Levees do fail, and they can fail catastrophically. Those living or working near levees should safeguard what may be your most important asset, your home or business. Most homeowner insurance policies and many business owners policies do not cover damage from flooding.

Learn about flood insurance and find an insurance agent in your area at

Levee Accreditation Mapping Status


Provisionally Accredited


When levees no longer meet the minimum federal requirements for reducing flood hazard, they are shown as non-accredited levees on a community’s flood maps and the area behind them is shown as a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA, the area inundated by the 1-percent-annual-chance flood). Learn more about different levee accreditation statuses and associated flood hazards.

Accredited Levees

For most property owners, their homes or businesses are their greatest investments. When levee systems are mapped as accredited on the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM), the area behind the levee is mapped as moderate-hazard and the federal requirement for lenders to require flood insurance is removed. Consequently, flood insurance becomes a choice rather than a requirement and many will wonder if they still need this coverage. All areas near levees are still at risk for flooding because even when the base flood hazard is reduced; flood risk is not removed. More than 20 percent of all flood claims come from moderate-to-low hazard areas. Flood insurance should be recommended, as it is one of the best ways to be financially prepared for flood damage.

Templates for Local Officials

Provisionally Accredited Levees

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.

Templates for Local Officials

Non-Accredited Levees

When a levee system can no longer meet the NFIP regulatory requirements 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, the area where the NFIP's floodplain management regulations must be enforced and the area where the mandatory purchase of flood insurance applies, 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 with a NFIP insurance requirement, including the NFIP’s Preferred Risk PolicyNewly Mapped Procedure, and Grandfathering. Additionally, this is a good opportunity to inform property owners about other mitigation actions they can take to further reduce their risk.

Templates for Local Officials