This page discusses scenarios regarding dam failure and how you can get information for preparedness tips in case of a dam failure in your community.

There are more than 90,580 dams in the United States, according to the 2016 update to the National Inventory of Dams. Approximately one-third of these pose a “high” or “significant” hazard to life and property if a failure occurs.

Dam failure or levee breaches can occur with little warning. Intense storms may produce a flood in a few hours or even minutes for upstream locations. Flash floods occur within six hours of the beginning of heavy rainfall and dam failure may occur within hours of the first signs of breaching.

Other failures and breaches can take much longer to occur, from days to weeks, as a result of debris jams or the accumulation of melting snow.

For preparedness tips on what to do before, during and after a flood, visit

For lessons learned from dam incidents and failures, visit