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Real Estate, Lending, and Insurance Professionals: Levee Mapping Status

This section provides real estate, lending, and insurance professionals with information on levee mapping statuses. Site users can search information regarding the accreditation status of levee systems as well as information regarding the risk that comes with living near a levee.

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

Velva, N.D., June 26, 2011 -- Levee built around the town of Velva to hold back the overflowing Souris River.  Burleigh and Ward counties were designated a federal disaster area, opening the way for federal disaster assistance from FEMA.  Andrea Booher/FEMAFargo, N.D., March 28, 2009 -- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is providing assistance to local officials and residents in Fargo, ND . The Red River is expected to crest at 41 feet on Sunday.  Photo by Patsy Lynch/FEMAWashington, D.C., August 28, 2008 --  Manuela Rayner (front) and Sarah Schoenborn, FEMA Mapping Division, prepare the National Response Coordination Center (NRCC), within FEMA Headquarters, with the current maps projecting the tracking of Hurricane Gustav and Tropical Storm Hannah. Barry Bahler/FEMA

Understanding and Communicating the Risk

Levee systems reduce the risk of flooding, but they do not eliminate it. Over time, the ability for the levee system to reduce flood risk can change. Due to changes in the condition of the levee and weather, some levee systems no longer provided the minimum level of flood hazard reduction. For those levee systems, flood maps treat areas near these non-accredited levees as high-hazard flood zones, and there is often a Federal requirement to purchase flood insurance.

Other levees that have been constructed or improved to a higher standard provide at least the minimum NFIP regulatory requirements of reducing the hazard of flooding. Flood maps show these as accredited levee systems, and areas behind them are typically mapped as a moderate-hazard area. Still other levees are in the process of complying with the NFIP regulatory requirements, and are shown as provisionally accredited levee systems while further data/documentation is gathered by the community.

When flood hazard zone designations change in levee-impacted areas, flood risks and NFIP flood insurance requirements may also change. In some cases, property owners are required to purchase flood insurance. In other cases, they are released from the mandatory purchase requirement. It is important in your profession to stay aware of any upcoming changes in the levee system accreditation and to be prepared to discuss these changes, the flood risk associated with them, and the options your clients have. While flood insurance may not be federally required for areas impacted by some of these levee systems, FEMA still encourages owners to understand and take steps to reduce their risk by taking advantage of low-cost insurance options and mitigation techniques. You have a critical role in helping property owners not only understand their risk, but also take steps to mitigate that risk.

Each of the three different levee statuses is described in more detail in the sections below.

Levee Outreach Toolkit Materials

Outreach materials, including customizable templates and fact sheets that will help you inform your clients about both the flood risk present and new building and flood insurance requirements, are included at the end of each levee status section listed below. All of the templated materials were created in Microsoft Word to include key messages and information, while allowing them to be customized by end users. Red brackets clearly mark areas where community-specific information should be inserted. Directions inside the brackets suggest the appropriate information to include. Because they exist in Microsoft Word, the template documents are not designed for high-resolution printing, but they can be printed in color. FEMA resource materials are provided as PDF documents to protect their integrity. They can be printed, but not changed.

Non-Accredited Levee Systems

When new flood maps are being issued for a community with a levee system and the levee is found to not meet NFIP regulatory requirements for reducing the hazards associated with the base (1-percent-annual-chance) flood, it will be shown on the new flood map as being non-accredited. This means the flood risk around the levee will be mapped as a high-hazard area, known as a Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA).

Because of the higher flood hazard, owners of properties in high-hazard areas will be subject to the NFIP mandatory flood insurance purchase requirement once the new maps take effect. This means property owners will be required to purchase a flood insurance policy if they have mortgages from federally regulated or insured lenders.

Many property owners can save significantly on flood insurance coverage by purchasing a low-cost Preferred Risk Policy (PRP) for their building and contents before new maps becomes effective. PRPs offer the same level of risk reduction as standard flood insurance at a reduced premium. Other low-cost insurance options like Newly Mapped Procedure and Grandfathering are also available. Property owners can take further steps to reduce their risk through various mitigation techniques. Visit https://www.fema.gov/what-mitigation to learn more.

Levee Outreach Toolkit Materials and templates for use by real estate, Insurance, and Lending Professionals

Accredited Levee Systems

When levees are certified to provide at least the minimum Federal standard of flood hazard reduction, the areas behind these accredited levees are mapped as moderate-risk areas. Levee system accreditation does not guarantee that flooding will not occur. The flood hazard in that area is only reduced, not removed. There is always a risk of flooding if you live or work near a levee as a levee can fail or be overtopped by a larger flood than the levee was designed to contain. As a result, flooding could be catastrophic. Residents and business owners in these areas should seriously consider their risks and take appropriate steps to safeguard themselves and their properties. More than 20 percent of all flood claims come from moderate-low hazard areas.

Flood insurance is an important way to reduce your financial risk. Most residents and business owners living behind an accredited levee that is mapped as a moderate-to-low-hazard area will qualify for the National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP’s) Preferred Risk Policy (PRP). PRP’s cost about one-third to one-half of the price of a standard-rated flood insurance policy, while providing both building and contents coverage. Note that there is typically a 30-day waiting period before a policy becomes effective. Property owners can also take additional steps to mitigate their risk. Go to https://www.fema.gov/what-mitigation to learn more.

Outreach Materials and Templates for use by Real Estate, Insurance, and Lending Professionals

Provisionally Accredited Levee Systems

If your levee system(s) is now identified as a Provisionally Accredited Levee (PAL) or will be when the preliminary flood maps become effective, it means they previously met Federal flood standards for reducing flood hazards, but additional documentation is now required to show they remain in compliance. During this period of review, levee systems(s) will be temporarily designated as PALs, because available data indicates they likely still offer the needed level of flood hazard reduction.

While the levee system is shown as provisionally accredited, the flood maps will recognize the levee as continuing to comply with the NFIP regulatory requirements for the levee-impacted area; however, the PAL designation serves as a reminder that there is always a risk of flooding if you live or work near a levee because levees can fail or be overtopped by a larger flood than the levee was designed to contain. As a result, flooding could be catastrophic. Residents and business owners in these areas should seriously consider their risks and take appropriate steps to reduce the risk to themselves and their properties. More than 20 percent of all flood claims come from moderate-to-low hazard areas.

One of the ways to reduce this risk is through flood insurance. Most residents and business owners living behind a PAL that is mapped as a moderate-hazard area will qualify for the NFIP’s Preferred Risk Policy (PRP). PRP’s cost about one-third to one-half of the price of a standard-rated flood insurance policy, while providing both building and contents coverage. Note that there is typically a 30-day waiting period before a policy becomes effective. Property owners can also take additional steps to mitigate their risk. Go to https://www.fema.gov/what-mitigation to learn more.

Outreach Materials for use by Real Estate, Insurance, and Lending Professionals

For More Information

For additional information on levees, levee risk, levee safety and mapping, visit FEMA’s Levee Resources Library or use the resources listed above.

For assistance, contact a Map Specialist in the FEMA Map Information eXchange (FMIX) through the following methods:

  • Call (1-877) FEMA MAP (1-877-336-2627) Monday through Friday, 8:00 am through 6:30 pm (Eastern Time)
  • Email FEMAMapSpecialist@riskmapcds.com
  • Chat with a Map Specialist Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (Eastern Time)

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

Last Updated: 
05/23/2019 - 08:45