ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. -- Weather happens. Sometimes it's severe enough to be a disaster, like the flooding and wind damage Tropical Storm Nicole caused in eastern North Carolina.
You can take steps before the next disaster to protect your family and minimize property damage. It's called "hazard mitigation."
North Carolina Division of Emergency Management and Federal Emergency Management Agency mitigation experts suggest that families have a disaster preparedness plan and make their homes less vulnerable to high winds and torrential rains that accompany tropical storms or hurricanes.
Some things you can do yourself, such as stowing outside furniture when there's a forecast for severe weather. Other measures may need the expertise of an electrician, plumber, contractor or other professional. Also, remember to check with your community building department for any permit requirements.
- Anchor a fuel tank. Whether it's in a basement or outside of your dwelling, attach the tank to structural supports. Keep it topped-off to reduce possibility of the tank floating away.
- Raise electrical boxes, major appliances, and HVAC components. Survey the "infrastructure" of your home and elevate vulnerable items. Furnaces can be placed on cinder blocks and hot-water heaters, washers and dryers can be moved upstairs.
- Stop water backup. If flood waters enter the sewer system, sewage can back up and enter your home. To prevent this, install a backflow valve.
- Protect your home against high winds. If you are considering replacing doors and windows, look for impact-tested doors and think about adding storm shutters.
- Brace garage doors. During a hurricane, garage doors are vulnerable. Adding braces across the back of the door and strengthening glider wheel tracks can help. If you are constructing a new home, consider installing a garage door built to withstand high winds.
FEMA publications can point you in the right direction for information about how to reinforce your home against high winds and flooding and how to secure important personal property. Go online to FEMA's "How To" series at http://go.usa.gov/CR9 or order copies by calling FEMA Publications at 800-480-2520.
North Carolina residents can find helpful tips at www.nccrimecontrol.org/. Enter "home protection" in the search box.
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.