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Protect Your Home From Future Flood Damage

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Release date: 
October 18, 2010
Release Number: 

NEW BERLIN, Wis. – As cleanup continues from the July storms, tornadoes and flooding, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and Wisconsin Emergency Management (WEM) urge all residents to take measures now to reduce future flood loss or damages.

“In the wake of floods, people often wonder whether there is a way to protect themselves and their property from devastating loss. The answer is yes,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Paul Ricciuti. “The rebuilding phase of a disaster is the ideal time to consider ways to limit future damage.”

It is safer, cheaper and ultimately much easier to limit future destruction than repair it. FEMA calls such actions hazard mitigation. There are a number of low-cost actions that homeowners can take now to better protect or lessen the impact of heavy rain or future flooding.

"Many steps homeowners can take are simple," said WEM Administrator Mike Hinman. "Many can be accomplished in a few hours to a few days."

It is important to check with local building officials about standards and building codes. In addition, some mitigation measures may require hiring a contractor.  Here are a few suggestions to keep your home safe when floodwaters come knocking:

  • Relocate or elevate water heaters, furnaces and major appliances. Elevate water heaters, furnaces and appliances, such as washers and dryers, especially if they are located in a basement. Place them on a pressure-treated wood or masonry base at least 12 inches above the previous high-water mark of a home's projected flood elevation.
  • Elevate or relocate electrical systems. Electrical panel boxes, circuit breakers, wall switches and wall outlets should be at least 12 inches above your home's projected flood elevation. Some basement or first-floor electrical systems may even be moved to a higher floor.
  • Interior and exterior floodwalls. To keep water away from indoor furnaces, utilities and appliances, build a watertight masonry wall around them. An outside water-resistant wall is a good way to prevent water from flowing into basement openings.
  • Anchor fuel tanks. Indoor and outdoor fuel tanks should be anchored by non-corrosive metal straps or pressure-treated wood to prevent them from turning over or floating away.
  • Repair leaks and cracks immediately. Leaky roofs and foundation cracks let water into a home more readily. This weakens a structure and provides an ideal habitat for mold. If wet spots appear on the ceiling or cracks appear in a foundation, fix them immediately.
  • Clean gutters and drains. If gutters and drainage systems are blocked by leaves or debris, water can overflow and quickly flood a home or yard. Check all gutters and drainage systems regularly for leaves and nests. Also double-check storm drains on your street, as leaves and debris can block them, causing water to collect.
  • Invest in a battery-powered sump pump. Sump pumps remove water out of a structure and can be an excellent defense against flooding—unless they’re powered by electricity and the power is out. Battery-powered sump pumps are a relatively inexpensive solution. Be sure to purchase a backup battery as well.
  • Install a backflow valve, check valve, drain plug or standpipe. These measures ensure sewage only flows one way – outside. Consult with a professional to remain code compliant.

FEMA’s How-To Series offers free information and publications for property owners and contractors about construction techniques and measures to reduce flood loss or damages. The series is available at or by calling 1-800-480-2520. These include: Repairing Your ...

Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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