What is Risk MAP?

Flood risks change over time, based on new building and development, weather pattern changes, and other factors. The FEMA Risk Mapping, Assessment and Planning (Risk MAP) program will assist communities nationwide, assess flood risks, and encourage mitigation planning to avoid or minimize damage in the face of future disasters. Through more precise flood maps, risk assessment tools and outreach support, Risk MAP strengthens local ability to make informed decisions about reducing risk.


Identifying the hazards and risk in communities, anticipating disaster recovery issues, and prioritizing hazard mitigation actions before a disaster strikes will result in substantial long-term reduction of risk and future disaster damage. An effective hazard mitigation planning process is critical to make communities more disaster resistant.

During Risk MAP, FEMA will use the watershed boundaries to conduct future studies. This watershed approach will allow communities to come together to develop partnerships, combine resources, share flood risk information with FEMA, and identify broader opportunities for mitigation action. Groups such as local governments, county governments, Tribes, commerce, and non-profit organization will have opportunities to develop a vision for the watershed’s future.

What is Mitigation?

Mitigation is the effort to reduce loss of life and property by lessening the impact of disasters. Effective mitigation actions can break the cycle of disaster damage, reconstruction, and repeated damage. Communities should incorporate sustainable re-development concepts into their reconstruction efforts and should encourage both natural non-structural solutions, as well as structural measures to reduce risks. Residents can reduce personal risk through relocation and home elevation. Financial losses due to flooding can be reduced with flood insurance. Sharing risk information with our families and neighbors is everyone’s role.

What is a watershed?

Watershed is the area of land where all of the water drains to a common waterway, such as a stream, lake, wetland, or river. Watershed come in all shapes and sizes. They can cross county, State, and national boundaries. Watershed boundaries are always located on the tops of hills or mountains because water flows downhill. They are sometimes referred to as “river basins,” “River valley,” or “drainage basins.”

What the watershed approach means for a community

FEMA’s overarching principle of the watershed approach is to develop a complete, consistent, and connected flood engineering analysis within watersheds.