BEVERLY, Mass. -- Disaster officials overseeing state-federal recovery efforts suggest that homeowners in flood-prone areas should consider taking practical steps to lessen the future risk of flooding damage or loss.
One effective flood protection measure is the installation of a backflow valve to prevent sewage from backing up into a house through the main sewer/septic connection. These sewage backups not only cause damage that is difficult to clean but also create health hazards.
A backflow valve is designed to block the drainpipe and prevent flow into the house. These valves are available in a variety of designs that range from the simple to the complex. Among the simpler valves are flap or check valves that open to allow flow out of the house but close when the flow reverses.
Federal Coordinating Officer James N. Russo said residents should consult a licensed plumber or contractor about installation and the relative advantages and disadvantages of various types of backflow valves.
“Wherever possible, we encourage home and business owners to repair or rebuild with disaster prevention in mind,” Russo said, noting that low-interest loans available through the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) allow up to a 20 percent increase in the loan amount to lessen similar recurring loss.
Russo said residents with flood damages should first register for assistance at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), [TTY] 1-800-462-7585 for speech or hearing impairment. Lines are open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
State Coordinating Officer Cristine McCombs said a key step in reducing flood risk is to talk to local building code enforcement officials.
“These officials can give you practical advice on reducing future damages,” McCombs said. “Massachusetts homeowners have successfully prevented mold and mildew, flooded basements, and water damage to heating systems or appliances by keeping floodwaters and sewage out in the first place. Backflow prevention valves are one simple way to mitigate these potential problems.”
The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) makes available a wide range of published materials to help homeowners, renters and business reduce risk from potential disasters. To obtain copies, call FEMA Publications at 1-800-480-2520. Information is also available on the Internet at .
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department is to lead the effort to prepare the nation for all hazards and effectively manage federal response and recovery efforts following any national incident. FEMA also initiates proactive mitigation activities, trains first responders, and manages the National Flood Insurance Program and the U.S. Fire Administration.