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


Understanding Your Flood Risk

Living and working near levees comes with risk. Levees may reduce risk during certain flood events, but they do not provide complete 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. Learn how levees work and how they can fail, using FloodSmart’s interactive Levee Simulator tool.

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.

Take an Active Role in Reducing Your Risk

You can take steps to protect 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. Steps you can take include:

  • 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’s accreditation for providing the minimum level of flood risk reduction is changing. Learn more about what changes in accreditation mean and how that may affect your risk to flooding at Levee Mapping Status.
  • Understand your flood risk. Find out where your home is in relation to any levees, and whether or not you are in a mapped floodplain. Again, ask your local government officials if remapping is occurring and if so, how will that affect the levees and the area where you live or work. For more information on flood hazard remapping, visit FEMA’s Flood Hazard Mapping Homepage.
  • 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, FEMA’s disaster preparedness website.
  • 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. To learn more about flood insurance and to find an insurance agent in your area who can provide you coverage, visit

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 additional information or 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 the FMIX
  • Chat with a Map Specialist Monday through Friday, 9:00 am to 5:00 pm (Eastern Time)

Subscribe to receive flood hazard mapping updates via email.


About Kevin

Mayor - City of Oakley, Data Center Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-POSCO INDUSTRIES, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction, Commissioner - Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Board Member - Tri Delta Transit and Transplan
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