Quincy, MA -- There will be another flood, nature will see to that. But that doesn't mean it has to be a disaster.
"Now is the time to think about protecting your home from future flooding," advises Stephen J. McGrail, director of the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency and the state coordinating officer for the disaster recovery under way.
Homeowners, renters and businesses in Bristol, Essex, Middlesex, Norfolk, Plymouth, Suffolk and Worcester counties became eligible for disaster assistance under President Bush's disaster declaration last month for severe storms and flooding in March. To date, nearly 4,000 checks totaling more than $6 million have been issued under the federal Disaster Housing Program.
"The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) can provide information about measures homeowners can take to safeguard against future damage," said Louis H. Botta, federal coordinating officer for the disaster-recovery effort in Massachusetts.
While assessing flood damage, inspectors may recommend repairs or equipment replacement to better protect a home. FEMA has a number of free how-to booklets and pamphlets, such as the "Homeowner's Guide to Retrofitting" (FEMA-312).
"All you have to do is call 1-800-480-2520 and FEMA Publications will send you the material," Botta said. Hours for that service are 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Information also is available on the FEMA website, www.fema.gov.
"If you are replacing a furnace or water heater, now may be the time to relocate it to a higher, safer place," Botta said. "You also can raise the circuit breaker or fuse box and the utility meters above flood level, so they won't be damaged by floodwaters."
These are measures you can take if you are repairing a flood-damaged home, doing major renovations or even building a new home. A backflow valve, for example, is a relatively simple and inexpensive device that can stop sewer backup.
If you have questions about what you can do, nearly every community has building codes and ordinances to guide construction practices, advises McGrail. "Before you begin to make changes, contact your local building official to learn what the codes require."