LINCOLN, Neb. -- As Nebraskans begin to recover from the flooding of late May, recovery officials urge them to take steps to lessen damage from flooding events in the future.
Implementing mitigation measures now can reap savings in time and money say officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Nebraska Emergency Management (NEMA).
Some measures to reduce damage from water are fairly simple and inexpensive; others will require a professional contractor licensed to work in the state, county or city.
It is important to insure any reconstruction work meets current state and local building codes. Exceeding the requirements of the building code with a "code plus" approach to rebuilding increases the disaster resistance of the house and decreases the chance of major structural damage from wind or water. A professional home builder, architect, contractor or building supply retailer may provide invaluable information.
FEMA's "How To" series at www.fema.gov/protect-your-property-or-business-disaster can be viewed, downloaded and printed, or copies may be ordered by calling 1-800-480-2520. The series features illustrated guides about such topics as reinforcing garage doors and anchoring fuel tanks.
The Federal Alliance for Safe Homes-FLASH, Inc.-is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting disaster safety and property protection. Its website www.flash.org features animations guiding a home owner or builder through the latest tested and approved mitigation techniques for the home.
Some tips from FEMA's mitigation experts to protect property from flooding:
- Keeping Basements Dry -- Much of the water damage in the recent flooding and severe storms in Nebraska was caused by water seeping into basements. Waterproofing basement walls, both inside and out can be an expensive proposition, especially on old construction, but combined with automatic sump pumps and other methods of draining water out of basements can offer an added measure of protection during a storm or flooding event. It is important that sump pumps be able to operate even if power is lost, several types of pumps are available. If there is time, protecting openings in basement walls, such as windows and doors with sandbags can also be effective.
- Raising Electrical System Components -- Electrical system components, including service panels, meters, switches and outlets are easily damaged by floodwater. If they are inundated for even short periods, they may require replacement. The potential for fires caused by short circuits in flooded systems is a significant danger. Raising electrical system components enables faster clean up and speeds up repairs and returning home. All components of the electrical system, including the wiring, should be raised at least one foot above the 100-year flood level.
- Elevating Appliances -- Appliances such as washers and dryers should be located at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation. Washers and dryers can sometimes be elevated on masonry or pressure-treated lumber; such appliances can also be moved to a higher floor.
- Raising HVAC -- Heating, ventilating and cooling (HVAC) equipment, such as a furnace or hot water heater, can be damaged extensively if inundated by floodwaters. Exterior HVAC equipment should be elevated at least 12 inches above the home's projected flood elevation. A good way to protect interior HVAC equipment is to move it from the basement or lower level of the house to an upper floor or even the attic. Relocation may involve plumbing and electrical changes and requires the skills of a professional con...