Little Rock, AR -- Tornadoes, thunderstorms, floods, wildfires, snow and ice storms occur whether we are prepared for them or not. We may not be able to control Mother Nature, but we may be able to mitigate (lessen) the effects of her power.
"Disaster can strike at any time. Therefore disaster preparedness is a must for all seasons," said Kathy Reimer, hazard mitigation specialist for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
In Arkansas you may be at risk for any number of disasters. If you are not sure whether your house or business is at risk from a natural disaster, check with your local building official, city engineer or planning and zoning administrator.
Protecting your house, business and property involves a variety of changes that can vary in complexity and cost. You may be able to make some types of changes yourself. However, complicated or large-scales changes and those that affect the structure of the building, its utility systems, electrical wiring or plumbing should be carried out only by a professional contractor licensed to work in your state, county or city.
Mitigating the effect of wind, water, fire and ice is the responsibility of every property owner. Actions taken to strengthen, protect or elevate property may lessen the impact of a natural disaster.
WIND: The force of wind alone can topple trees, cause weak places in a structure to fail, and create windborne missiles out of smaller objects. "Once wind enters a building, the likelihood of severe structural damage increases, and the contents of the building are exposed to the elements," said Terry Gray, state hazard mitigation officer for the Arkansas Department of Emergency Management (ADEM). Property owners should consider taking the following steps to protect their property during wind events.
- Inspect your roof on a regular basis.
- Secure and attach exterior doors and garage doors strong enough to withstand high winds.
- Securely anchor storage sheds, outbuildings and small objects such as trashcans, barbecue grills, outdoor furniture or any materials that can become windborne missiles.
WATER: Flooding is the most common and widespread natural disaster. It can occur just about anywhere, anytime. To reduce the risk of future flood damage to property, the following measures may be taken to minimize the effects of floodwaters and make cleanup easier.
- Elevate the lowest floor of the building to the base flood elevation or higher to be in compliance with local ordinances.
- Place heating, air conditioning and hot-water systems, washers, and dryers on a platform above flood level.
- Move valuables, essential records and files out of harm's way.
- Install backflow valves in sanitary and storm sewer lines.
- Strengthen walls to withstand the pressure of floodwaters.
- Construct levees and floodwalls to stop floodwater from entering the building.
- Install sump pump and foundation drain systems.
- Protect water wells.
- Consider obtaining a backup power supply to ensure continuation of electrical systems, pumps and wells.
- Buy flood insurance to cover the value of your property and its contents.
- Maintain a written and photographic inventory of important materials and store it in a secure location or safety deposit box.
FIRE: Many people believe that "fires only happen to other people - not to me and not in my home." Yet more than 70 percent of fire deaths occur in residences. Wildfires also destroy millio...