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Levees reduce the risk of flooding, but they don't eliminate it. With more serious floods, they can be overtopped or even fail. For this reason, flood insurance is recommended for any property located near a levee. Over time, the level of protection a levee provides can change, especially if it is not properly maintained by the owner (e.g., community, county). These changes can result in levees losing their accreditation and result in higher risk areas newly identified when updated flood maps are issued.
Levees and Flood Maps
When levees meet Federal standards for protection, flood maps show them as accredited levees and show the land facing the levee as a moderate-risk area (Zone X) on the map. Flood insurance is not federally required by lenders, but it is strongly recommended.
When levees do not meet Federal standards, they are considered non-accredited, and flood maps show the levee-affected area as a high-risk area (Zones AE or A) or undetermined area (Zone D) on the map. Flood insurance is strongly recommended for all areas near levees, as flood damage can be catastrophic. In fact, most mortgage lenders will require flood insurance in these areas.
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