Department of Homeland Security Seal Federal Emergency Management Agency University of New Orleans Logo
Protecting Your Home > Barriers

Barriers include small floodwalls, levees, or berms that are constructed around one or more properties.

  • appropriate for shallow, relatively short duration flooding
  • not recommended for flood depths greater than three feet
  • If a barrier is built around a house, it is necessary to have a sump pump with a back up generator for pumping rain water out of the protected space.
  • Account for sewer backup and other sources of water entering the building. For shallow flooding, this can be done with a floor drain plug; although a valve system is more secure.
  • Higher barriers usually have openings to allow access. These require a method to close them, requiring human intervention. Someone needs to be available to have enough time to take action.
  • Soil type is important. If soil is permeable, seepage under the barrier can occur. This is especially true if floodwalls stay up for a long time.
  • Cost depends on depth of flooding and the amount of engineering put into the design. There are no Federal funding sources for this form of mitigation for residential properties.
  • NFIP will not offer lower insurance rates for house protected with a barrier.


  • more appropriate for denser suburban neighborhoods
  • Floodwalls require a method to close openings, such as a garage door, requiring human intervention. Someone needs to be available and have enough time to take action.

Small Levees/Berms

  • more appropriate for more rural areas
  • require six feet of ground space for each foot in height


The barrier protecting this house is also used as a planter


Notice the pump located inside of this barrier



For more information, see: