OMAHA, Neb. -- Last month's destructive storms and flooding in three Nebraska counties underscored the need for residents to consider suggestions offered by state and Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) officials to minimize damage from future similar events.
Before the water starts to rise again, Federal Coordinating Officer Charles Biggs and State Coordinating Officer Fran Laden are recommending Nebraskans lend serious consideration to the following actions:
- Rebuild on higher ground -- homes damaged by floodwaters should be rebuilt on high ground elsewhere, or rebuilt on a site one foot above the base flood level. The base flood level represents a designated area with a one percent chance of flooding in a given year. Residents should consult their local floodplain manager to learn about the status of their particular area.
- Elevate existing structures - existing buildings in flood-prone areas should be elevated. Constructing walls or enclosures around air conditioning and cellar openings often prevent expensive flood damage.
- Purchase flood insurance - not only is this a smart decision, it's a must for flood victims who wish to receive low cost loans or grants from government agencies in declared disasters. Need more information? Call the National Flood Insurance Program (1-800-720-1090).
The two officials stress that it is less expensive to protect homes and properties before they are damaged than to repair them afterwards. They offer these additional methods to protect damage to major equipment:
- Relocate the electrical box to an upper floor or elevate the electrical box to 12 inches above the base flood elevation.
- Relocate the water heater and heating systems to an upper floor where they will be 12 inches above the base flood elevation or elevate them on a masonry base at least one foot above the base flood elevation.
- Anchor the fuel tank to the floor or wall to prevent overturning and floating: metal structural supports and fasteners must be non-corrosive; and wooden structural supports must be pressure treated.
Finally, here are two methods residents may employ to prevent water from backing up into the house:
- Install an interior or exterior septic backflow valve to prevent sewer backup from entering your home.
- Install a floating floor drain plug at the lowest point of the lowest finished floor to allow water to drain. When the flood drainpipe backs up, the float rises and plugs the drain.
A number of FEMA publications explain the technicalities of elevating homes or modifying current buildings to make them floodproof. Available titles, which are free by writing to the FEMA Printing Office, 8231 Stayton Drive, Jessup, MD, or by requesting by telephone 1-800-480-2520, include:
- Tips to Minimize Loss of Life and Property After Floods (#593-237B)
- Manual for Retrofitting Flood-Prone Residential Structures (#R-1749)
- Manufactured Home Installation in Flood Hazard Areas (#F-85)
- Design Guidelines for Flood Damage Reduction (#F-15)
Additional information regarding mitigation and a wide range of flood topics may be obtained at FEMA's web site: www.fema.gov/fima/