San Francisco, CA -- As winter storms hit much of the state, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, through its Project Impact initiative, is urging Californians to take preventative measures in lessening the risk of severe weather damage.
"Severe weather has the potential to inflict costly damages to our homes and our businesses," said Kevin Clark, Project Impact coordinator for FEMA Region IX in San Francisco, "but there are steps you can take now to protect yourself and your property."
Severe storms that can produce flooding, high winds and heavy snows are the most common weather threats in late winter and early spring. FEMA's Project Impact recommends doing the following before disaster strikes:
- Reinforce garage doors to withstand high winds.
- Install backflow valves in waste lines to prevent contamination and physical damage in the event of flooding.
- Remove old shingles and add more nails to roof boards to protect against high winds.
- Elevate electrical panels, fuse boxes, and heating and air conditioning controls above the floodplain.
- Secure a manufactured home to a concrete foundation to protect against floods or earthquakes.
Licensed contractors should be retained for major projects and those requiring electrical or plumbing expertise.
Damage-prevention work can range in cost from a few dollars to a few thousand, but every dollar spent can make a big difference in protection from disaster.
In 2000, 45 major disasters were declared across the country, causing more than $3.3 billion in damage to homes and businesses. Although California has not had a weather-related disaster since the El Ni?o storms of 1998, according to the National Weather Service, severe weather resulted in $36.4 million dollars worth of property damage in the state during year 2000 alone.
"Nine California communities participating in Project Impact are actively protecting residents from the devastating effects of disasters," added Clark. The communities are: City of Berkeley, County of Colusa, Las Virgenes Malibu Council of Governments, County of Napa, City of Oakland, County of San Bernardino, City of San Leandro, City of Santa Barbara and the County of Santa Barbara.
Nearly 250 communities and 2,500 business partners are participating in Project Impact nationwide. Instead of waiting for disasters to strike, they initiate mentoring relationships, private and public partnerships, public outreach, and projects to reduce damage from potentially devastating disasters. Community projects have included revising local building and land use codes, and passing bond issues to fund disaster mitigation construction.