Hazard Mitigation: Reduce Future Storm Losses To Your Home And Property

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Release date: 
November 30, 1999
Release Number: 
1307-04

ESSEX JUNCTION, Vt. -- While Vermont residents escaped major damage from Tropical Storm Floyd, many communities are still repairing public facilities that were damaged by heavy rains and storm winds. The next storm may be less kind, and residents may be forced to undertake substantial debt to make repairs.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Vermont Emergency Management (VEM) have a number of hazard mitigation suggestions on what can be done to prevent or reduce future flood losses to home and property.

State and federal officials say that mitigation measures have been proven to work in Vermont and other disasters around the nation. That is why they want area residents to consider these measures before the next disaster strikes.

Flood Insurance - Purchasing flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a wise step to take, no matter where you live.

  • Flood insurance is available in all communities that participate in the NFIP.
  • There is a 30-day waiting period after the premium is paid before flood insurance goes into effect.
  • Homeowners who carry flood insurance are covered against any flood-related damage to ground level or upper floor(s) of their homes whether a presidential disaster is declared or not. Coverage for flood-caused damage to basements is limited to structural elements and basic items used to service the building such as furnaces, water heaters, utility connections, etc.
  • To purchase a policy, homeowners can contact their local insurance agent or call the National Flood Insurance Hotline toll-free at 1-800-427-4661 for more information.

When you start to rebuild, state and federal disaster recovery officials suggest the following: Building Permits - Local codes generally require a building permit before you make repairs or flood-proofing improvements to a structure. Owners or contractors usually need to get a permit for electrical work, plumbing, and repairs for structural damage such as foundations and exterior walls. Failure to follow local building codes can result in an order to stop reconstruction, a fine, higher flood insurance and/or denial of flood insurance.

Major Appliances, Heating And Hot Water Systems - Because flood damage starts at the lowest point in a structure and works upward, damage to utilities and appliances such as washers and dryers may be prevented by elevating or relocating them to the first or second floor. Heating and hot water systems, furnaces, and major appliances can be placed on a sufficient masonry base at least 12 inches above the high water mark from the last flood, or a known flood elevation from an appropriate flood insurance map. Some heating systems could be suspended from the basement ceiling to elevate them above the flood level. Owners may also want to consider relocating such systems from a basement to the first floor or even the attic.

Electrical Systems- Electric panels, circuit breakers, wall switches and electric outlets should be relocated at least 12 inches above the high water mark from the last flood, or a known flood elevation from the appropriate flood insurance map. Maximum height of electric panels is regulated by code and all relevant permits must be obtained before work begins.

Septic Backflow Valves - Floodwater can enter a structure through the sewer pipes. To prevent this, or any sewer backup, a backflow valve can be installed inside or outside the structure. The valve should conform to state and local building codes.

Interior And Exterior Floodwalls - A watertight masonry floodwall can be constructed to enclose utilities such as furnaces, water heaters, appliances, and electrical systems in the basement or lowest floor of a building. Outside, a similar masonry floodwall could be constructed ...

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
State/Tribal Government or Region: 
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