Kansas City, MO -- As Iowa holds its annual Severe Weather Awareness Week, April 2-6, 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."
Ellen Gordon, Iowa Emergency Management Division Administrator, said now is the time to take preventive action. "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 the devastating property damage and loss of life."
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 a 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 plans.
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 $125.3 million dollars in property damage in Iowa last year.
The six communities in Iowa currently participating in the Project Impact initiative have already taken actions to protect residents from the devastating effects of disasters, including:
- Denison has conducted public education and outreach programs and developed a flood early warning system.
- Moines subsidized the purchase of NOAA weather radios as part of a hazard warning system and has purchased a Geographical Information System (GIS) to assist in flood mitigation planning.
- Le Mars is working to improve storm water drainage along Goose Creek.
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 disasters. Previous community projects have included creating disaster resistance strategies, revising local building codes and passing bond issues for mitigation measures that will affect the entire community.
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