The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency announced new guidance which provides communities additional time to gather data needed to assess the protective capabilities of levees while still allowing new Flood Insurance Rate Maps to be released on time.

"When levees fail, they fail catastrophically. The flooding may be much more intense and damaging than if the levee was not there," said David Maurstad, FEMA's Mitigation Director and Federal Insurance Administrator. "No levee system will provide full protection from floods. Levees are designed to provide a specific level of protection, and they can be overtopped in larger flood events. People need to be aware of the risks they face living behind levees -- including levees credited as providing protection from the one percent annual chance flood."

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