RALEIGH, N.C. -- North Carolina property owners who are rebuilding properties damaged by Hurricane Floyd are being urged to take steps in reconstruction to minimize the potential for damage in future storms.
State and federal disaster recovery officials say there will never be a better opportunity to build a safer structure for less cost and inconvenience. In addition, a few changes in the reconstruction process might favorably affect hazard insurance premiums.
"We want people to know that a few dollars spent now, and a few reasonable measures taken, can save money and trouble in the future," said Glenn C. Woodard of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), federal coordinating officer for the North Carolina disaster.
Steps to protect against flooding range from elevating structures above base flood levels to something as simple as replacing carpet with floor tile and raising electrical outlets. Strengthening a home against violent winds means, among other things, using hurricane roof clips, masonry ties and plywood rather than pressed board.
Repairing and rebuilding homes in flood-hazard areas can pose special problems. Buildings constructed before floodplain regulations were adopted may adhere to previous construction standards during restoration unless repair costs are 50 percent or more of a structure's pre-disaster market value. Then property owners are required to rebuild in compliance with current standards.
Communities adopt and enforce these regulations to help prevent future flood losses and to enable property owners to buy insurance through FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Most standard homeowner insurance policies do not cover damage from rising water.
Officials stressed the need to tie structures to their foundations with correctly installed anchor bolts of proper dimension. In structures with concrete block foundations, the bolts should be at least 15 inches into the foundation in order to reach the second course of block and help prevent their being pulled out of the foundation by strong winds.
If the concrete is poured, bolts a minimum of half-inch diameter should be set at least 7 inches into the concrete and topped with a washer and nut. Officials also recommended use of 2-by-6-inch wall studding. It is more rigid than the usual 2-by-4-inch timber and provides the added benefit of greater space for wall insulation.
The U.S. Small Business Administration has approved more than 5,500 disaster home loans to help people in North Carolina repair property destroyed in this unusually violent hurricane season. To date, total federal disaster assistance to North Carolina victims of Hurricanes Floyd and Irene exceeds $555 million.
While such measures will help make a home structurally sound, providing maximum protection against hurricanes and enhancing survival odds, they will not guarantee safety in a direct hit of a storm as powerful as Floyd.
Detailed information about rebuilding structures to reduce future flood damage is available on the FEMA Web page at www.fema.gov and the Floodplain Management Association web page at www.floodplain.org. Additional NFIP information can be obtained by calling toll-free 1-800-427-4661.