Help your community reduce flood risk and prepare for a flood emergency

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Help your community reduce flood risks, be better prepared for flooding and recover quickly after flood emergencies.

Without free access to accurate flood information, more Americans will unknowingly be at risk from the nation’s costliest natural disaster. makes flood risk data freely available for all, individuals and communities can prepare for and mitigate risks before they become a reality.

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Help your community prepare for a flood

Understand risk

The first step in helping your community prepare for emergencies is to understand the risks. Identify the hazards and impacts such as the sources of flooding, areas that are at risk, and how this will affect accessibility on roads or avenues of communication. Utilize Flood Factor’s Neighborhood/Municipality risk pages and contact your local officials and public servants for more tools and information. 

Build strong ties

Get to know your neighborhood and the support networks within it. This can mean getting to know your neighbors and identifying vulnerable members of the community such as those with disabilities, children, the elderly, and those with fewer resources. This can also mean connecting with local organizations, finding spaces where the community convenes to discuss local needs and concerns, or hosting your own meetings. By building ties before an emergency, you and your community can recover better after by relying on one another.


Hosting regular community meetings to discuss community response plans - Photo courtesy of IAP

Know your community response plan

In an emergency, it is important to have a plan for how to help each other. By identifying a low-risk area to meet and preparing community assets and resources like radios, phones, and energy sources, and rehearsing these plans, communities will be more successful in sharing information, coordinating action, and communicating with one another and other organizations during an emergency.

Encourage local government

Local governments can help reduce a community’s risk of flooding by investing in adaptation strategies. These can be physical barriers such as levees or seawalls, natural barriers such as wetlands or open spaces, or non-structural policy measures such as reducing development in flood-prone areas. To learn more, visit our adaptation types article.

Help your community reduce flood risk

Helping your community reduce flood risks is becoming more critical as floods become more frequent and extreme with climate change and sea level rise. Local officials can be encouraged to prioritize initiatives that defend against flooding; taking action locally to protect the community. Communities can also encourage state and federal officials to fund practical solutions and incentivize smart planning in state and federal programs.


Local officials can make a big difference simply by communicating the risks of flooding to their constituents. Resources like Flood Factor’s Community Risk Scores can be used by officials to better understand their community’s flood risk. It’s also important for local officials to create a basic plan to protect critical infrastructure. With bold leadership and smart planning, communities can limit the damage from flooding and protect their schools, hospitals, roads, and local economy.

Local action can also lower the cost of homeowner’s flood insurance premiums, helping them save hundreds of dollars each year. The National Flood Insurance Program’s (NFIP) Community Rating System (CRS) is a voluntary incentive program that encourages communities to implement flood risk reduction measures that exceed the NFIP’s minimum requirements. Under the CRS, communities that take additional actions to reduce their flood risk can earn discounts on NFIP flood insurance policies for their residents.

Find the right solution

Across the country, communities are coming together to combat sea level rise and find innovative and resourceful solutions. However, what works for one city may not work for another. Choosing the right solution will depend on factors like local climate, resources (both natural and economic), and laws.

It’s important for cities and residents to be proactive because solutions take time to plan and execute. Knowing the issues flooding may pose today and 15–30 years from now will give flood-prone communities the time to prepare and find solutions that protect property, economy, and quality of life.

Community adaptation solutions 

Investing in adaptation infrastructure is another way communities can reduce flood risk. Flood adaptation infrastructure is built projects constructed in flood-prone areas to mitigate the risk of flooding. Flood adaptation projects can generally be categorized as (1) traditional hard engineering or “gray” infrastructure, such as levees, dams, hardened ditches, etc., or (2) nature-based soft or “green” infrastructure projects designed to mimic nature, capturing and slowing the advance of floodwaters such as wetland creation, living shorelines, and mangrove planting.


Example of a levee; an embankment built to prevent the overflow of a river. Levees can also be built along low-lying coastal areas.

Policy-driven, non-structural flood adaptation such as managed retreats and FEMA’s buyouts and acquisitions program also exist. Policy-driven, non-structural flood adaptation such as managed retreats and FEMA’s buyouts and acquisitions program also exist.

Learn more

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