JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. -- Reconstructing flood-damaged property to be flood-resistant can save money, time, and grief the next time floodwaters rise, according to specialists from the State Emergency Management Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
Here are some tips from FEMA's Mitigation experts to protect property from flooding:
- Raise electrical system components - Even a short period of inundation by floodwaters ruins electrical service panels, meters, switches, and outlets. Short circuits in flooded systems pose a significant danger of fire. The likelihood of a flooded electrical system can be reduced by raising all electrical components at least one foot above the 100-year flood level.
- Elevate appliances - Appliances, such as washers and dryers, should be located at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation. Washers and dryers can be elevated by various methods, such as with pressure-treated lumber, or they can be moved to a higher floor.
- Raise HVAC - Heating, ventilating and cooling (HVAC) equipment, such as a furnace or hot water heater, will usually suffer extensive damage if inundated by floodwaters. Exterior HVAC equipment should be elevated at least 12 inches above the 100-year flood level. Interior HVAC equipment can be moved from the basement or lower level to an upper floor or the attic. Generally, a professional contractor will be required to make these changes.
- Anchor fuel tanks - Fuel tanks which are not anchored can be easily moved by floodwaters. These tanks pose serious threats to life, property, public safety, and the environment. An unanchored tank can be driven into the walls and can be swept downstream where it can damage other houses. Even a buried tank can be pushed to the surface by the buoyant effect of soil saturated by water. When an unanchored tank is moved by floodwaters, the supply line tears and the basement can become contaminated by oil. Oil spills from unanchored tanks can be a serious environmental problem following floods. Tanks may be anchored inside or outside the house with properly sized ground anchors. Filling and ventilation tubes need to be above the 100-year flood level so that floodwaters cannot enter the tank. For safety's sake, consult with local officials and building professionals about the best methods of anchoring fuel tanks.
- Install sewer backflow valves - Flooding can cause sewage from sanitary sewer lines to back up into houses through drain pipes. These backups not only cause damage that is hard to repair but can also create health hazards. Backflow valves are designed to block drain pipes temporarily and prevent flow into the house. Backflow valves are available in a variety of designs ranging from the simple to the complex and should be installed by a licensed plumber or contractor.
It is important to insure any reconstruction work meets current state and local building codes. A professional home builder, architect, contractor, or building supply retailer may provide valuable information. Also, local floodplain managers have information on 100-year flood levels and projected flood levels.
For more information, see FEMA's "How To" series at www.fema.gov/protect-your-property-or-business-disaster or order copies 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 ow...