Frankfort, KY -- "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." The proverb's age-old meaning is clear. It is less expensive to protect your home and property before they are damaged than to repair them afterwards. According to state and federal hazard mitigation specialists, there are some questions you should ask and actions you should take now to lessen damage from future storms.
"Kentucky disasters have proved many times over that every dollar spent on mitigation can save two dollars in future disaster losses, said Deputy Director Bob Osborne of the state's Division of Emergency Management. Osborne is a veteran of 23 federally declared disasters for Kentucky.
If you are repairing your home or replacing its contents take a few extra steps now to protect the home and your family in the future. Consider these three important questions as you start along the path towards making your home safer.
What is your flood risk? Is there a history of flooding in your area? Is your home in a flood hazard area? Ask before you buy or rent. If you need flood zone information, contact your local officials to view the flood maps on file. Your local building official or floodplain manager generally keeps flood maps.
What flood protection measures can you take? When homes are destroyed or severely damaged, serious consideration should be given to moving out of the floodplain or elevating the building. Local officials may be able to advise you which option is best for you.
In many cases where damage is not extreme, there are effective and relatively inexpensive steps you can take to protect against flood damage. For example, you may be able to anchor a fuel tank; install a septic backflow valve; install a floating floor drain plug; or move or raise an electrical box, water heater, heating system, or washer and dryer. You also may want to construct a flood barrier at vulnerable points on your property.
What about flood insurance? Once you have identified your risk and taken the appropriate flood protection measures, you should protect your financial investment by purchasing flood insurance on your home and its contents. Flood insurance is available to all homeowners in most communities in Kentucky. Contact your insurance agent to purchase flood insurance. If your agent is unable to write a flood insurance policy or refer you to someone who can, call Kentucky's floodplain management section in the state Division of Water at 502-564-3410 or National Flood Insurance Program at 1-800-427-4661. The speech or hearing impaired can call 1-800-427-5593 (TTY).
It is important to talk with your local building officials before you start any work. They can provide useful information on safe building methods.
Consult with a licensed contractor, architect or structural engineer, if necessary, to evaluate your construction project. Have them prepare recommendations and construction documents to obtain a building permit for reconstruction or retrofitting. If you plan to do the project on your own, contact your local building official for information on building codes and documents required for a permit.