In The Wake Of Hurricane Isabel, Fema And State Encourage Prevention Steps

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Release date: 
December 4, 2003
Release Number: 
1491-127

RICHMOND, Va. - Measures undertaken now to strengthen a home against high winds and driving rain may reduce future Hurricane Isabel-like damages, according to federal and Commonwealth of Virginia officials.

Rebuilding and repairing after a disaster like Isabel is an ideal time to take steps that may limit your damage in the future. The Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) calls this preparation hazard mitigation.

"We want to break the damage-repair-damage cycle whenever feasible," said Louis Botta, federal coordinating officer. "It's safer, cheaper and ultimately much easier to limit future destruction than repair it afterward," Botta said.

While some mitigation measures, such as acquisition of structures or elevation of buildings, are costly long-term projects, there are many simple home improvements that residents of flood-prone areas can do to help themselves.

"While many recommended measures require a contractor to perform them safely, some work can be done by a competent do-it-yourselfer," said Noah Thacker, a FEMA mitigation specialist.

Here are some suggestions:

  • Relocate water heaters, heating systems, washer and dryers and fuse boxes to a higher floor - or simply elevate them at least 12 inches above the highest water mark, if your home flooded.
    Homeowners can build wooden platforms out of pressure-treated wood and elevate the platforms to support a washer and dryer or water heater. When plans are created for the platform be sure to include steps, especially for your platforms that are 12 inches or more above the highest water mark.

  • Anchor fuel tanks to the wall or floor
    FEMA mitigation specialists recommend anchoring fuel tanks to the exterior walls of a house. Metal strapping or lag bolts to secure the tank safely can be purchased at any hardware store. "Just make sure the strapping and bolts are made of non-corrosive material," said FEMA Mitigation Specialist, Noah Thacker.

    Anchoring a fuel tank is important for at least two reasons, according to Thacker.

    1. Fuel tanks often float off their cradles during floods, threatening other structures in their path.
    2. Maintaining an uninterrupted fuel supply enables homeowners to return to their homes more quickly once flood waters subside.


  • Install floating floor drain plugs or check valves at the lowest point on the lowest finished level in a house
    Drain pipes become an avenue for flood waters, forcing sewage back into homes, presenting health threats to residents. However, installing floating floor drain plugs or check valves at the lowest point in the drain's run will prevent this hazard. The floating plug allows for normal drainage, but when water backs up or your home is flooding, the float will rise and plug the drain, preventing sewage backups.

  • Elevate electric boxes or relocate them to higher floors

  • Elevate electric outlets to 12 inches above highest water mark

  • Raise heat pumps and air conditioners next to houses and elevate above highest water levels

FEMA recommends home and business owners hire professional electricians for these jobs.

An uninterrupted electrical supply is just as essential as an uninterrupted fuel s...

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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