Kansas City, MO, March 6, 2001 -- As Kansas holds its annual Severe Weather Awareness Week, March 12-16, the Federal Emergency Management Agency's (FEMA) Project Impact: Building Disaster Resistant Communities initiative is encouraging residents to take preventive measures now to reduce the risk of severe weather damage.
"Severe weather has the potential to inflict costly damages to our homes and our businesses," said Art Freeman, Acting Regional Director for FEMA Region VII. "But there are actions you can take to lessen the damage when disaster strikes."
Severe storms that can produce heavy snows, flooding, high winds and even tornadoes are the most common weather threats in late winter and early spring. To protect yourself and your home from the dangers associated with the various types of severe weather, Project Impact recommends doing the following before severe storms strike:
- Reinforce attached garage overhead doors to withstand high winds.
- Securely connect manufactured home to its concrete foundation and to the ground with over-the-top tie downs to withstand flooding and high winds.
- Install a sewer line backflow prevention valve to stop sewer backup.
- When installing roof shingles, screw down wood sheathing to roof rafters and install 6 to 8 nails per shingle to withstand high winds.
- When located in a floodplain, elevate the gas meter, electrical service panel, furnace, central air conditioner and the ductwork above known flood levels.
- Build a tornado shelter using FEMA's Safe Room specifications.
Preventive actions can range in cost from a few dollars to a few thousand, but every dollar spent can make a difference in protecting homes and families from disaster.
FEMA assisted in the recovery from 45 major disasters in 2000 that inflicted more than $3.3 billion in damage to homes and businesses across the country. According to the National Weather Service, severe weather caused $104.4 million dollars in property damage in Kansas last year.
"In communities across the country, Project Impact is helping businesses and residents shift their focus from simply responding to disasters to taking actions in advance to stop devastating property damage and loss of life," said Gene Krase, administrator of the Kansas Department of Emergency Management. "It is time to take preventive action."
The five communities in Kansas currently participating in the Project Impact initiative have already taken actions to protect residents from the devastating effects of disasters, including:
- Riley County has a program that provides grants for the construction of Safe Rooms available from $1,000 for new homes, $2,000 for existing residences and up to $3,000 for low- to moderate-income individuals.
- Johnson County developed a Childcare Center Retrofit Program and has already completed numerous retrofits throughout the County. Window film is applied to all windows, making them shatter resistant, bookshelves are secured, Velcro is used to secure objects that could fall from shelves, etc.
- The city of Wichita (Sedgwick County) has constructed Safe Rooms into several newly constructed schools.
- In Butler County a Safe Shelter now exists in the mobile home park devastated by the April 26, 1991 tornado.
Nationwide, nearly 250 communities and 2,500 business partners have embraced Project Impact since its inception in 1997. Instead of waiting for disasters to occur, Project Impact communities initiate mentoring relationships, private and public partnerships, public outreach and disaster mitigation projects to reduce damage from potentially devastating dis...