SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- If you are thinking about rebuilding after the floods, and you've decided that elevating your house is not right for your situation, you may want to think about some of the other options available to protect your home from future flooding.
Whatever you decide to do, check with local officials before you start any work rebuilding. Local ordinances and codes determine in large part what you can and cannot do - and what you should do.
If your home is not in a special flood hazard area and if local regulations allow, you should consider the following options:
Wet Floodproofing means modifying the uninhabited portions of the house, such as a crawlspace under the house, so that floodwaters can get in but won't cause significant damage. By letting water in, the pressure is equalized between the outside and inside of the house, greatly reducing the chances of the walls collapsing. It is a practical solution for parts of the house that are not living space.
If you decide to wet floodproof, service equipment such as a furnace or water heater must be protected and new materials should be impervious to water damage. You cannot live in a wet-floodproofed house as long as floodwaters remain inside.
Remember that wet floodproofing does nothing to alleviate the threat of damage from fast-moving floodwaters, which are often a major cause of damage.
Dry Floodproofing is done by making a house watertight below the flood protection elevation so that floodwaters cannot enter. This is done by sealing the walls with waterproof coatings, impermeable membranes or supplemental layers of masonry or concrete. Doors, windows, and other openings also must have permanent or removable shields; backflow valves must be installed in sewer lines and drains.
Before dry floodproofing, you need to consider the flood depth and duration, flow velocity and potential for wave action and flood-borne debris. Dry floodproofing may not be used to bring your substantially damaged or substantially improved house into compliance with local floodplain management laws.
Levees and floodwalls are flood protection barriers that can be built to protect a house. A levee is typically made of earth, while a floodwall is normally built of concrete and/or masonry. Levees are usually limited to six feet in height, while floodwalls normally remain at four feet or less. Both levees and floodwalls should be built one foot higher than the base flood elevation to provide extra protection.
These structures are built around a house to keep floodwaters at bay. They must be strong enough to withstand the high pressure exerted by floodwaters on one side.
Placement of levees and floodwalls is important because they can have a significant impact on surrounding properties. They can divert floodwaters onto nearby land and block or impede the flood's flow, which in turn can send the flood into areas previously flood-free.
Some communities prohibit the construction of levees and floodwalls in the floodplain and floodway, so be sure to check with your local permitting agency before undertaking these projects.
Relocation-moving your house out of the flood hazard area-offers the greatest protection from flooding, but it is also the most expensive method. If you are seriously considering moving a house, you should take into account the house's condition; its size, design, and shape; possible routes between the old and new sites; and the length of time during which the house cannot be occupied.
If you decide to relocate your house, pay special attention to the new site. Consider the natural hazards that might be faced in the new location, how utilities can be connected, the site's accessibility and local zoning ordinances. You should involve your design professional and a movi0ng contractor in the process so you won't face any surprises as the move occurs.
Once the house is...