COLUMBIA, Mo. -- A Disaster Recovery Center (DRC) may host representatives from many government agencies, including the Small Business Administration and the IRS: however, survivors may also benefit from some time across the table from a Federal Emergency Management Agency mitigation specialist.
FEMA offers mitigation in an attempt to reduce the loss of life and property, by making a structure more disaster resistant. Advisors at a DRC are available to answer questions on cleaning after floods and flood insurance as well as to provide literature to survivors on how to make homes more flood resistant.
Flood protection can involve a variety of changes to house and property which can vary in complexity and costs. Simpler changes may be carried out by the homeowner; however, large-scale changes and those that affect the structure of the house, electrical wiring or plumbing should be carried out by a licensed professional contractor.
Measures a mitigation specialist may suggest for those with flood damage include:
- Anchoring Outdoor Propane or Oil Tanks: Unanchored propane tanks can be easily moved by flood waters. These tanks pose serious threats, not only to you, but to public safety and the environment. Propane is stored in pressurized vessels as liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) which can be extremely volatile and potentially explosive if the tank is ruptured and the escaping LPG is ignited by a spark. An inexpensive way to attempt to prevent this is to secure the tank with ground anchors connected across the top with metal straps. These products are available from suppliers and installers that service the manufactured housing industry.
- Elevating or Floodproof of Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Equipment: Elevating HVAC equipment, such as moving equipment to the attic or constructing a floodwall around equipment, may be effective in preventing damage from future flooding. Keep in mind, this may require changes to plumbing, electrical system or ductwork which should be done by a licensed contractor who will assure the work is done correctly and according to applicable codes. Additionally, homeowners may consider upgrading to a more energy-efficient unit, which may help reduce heating and cooling bills.
- Raising Electrical System Components: Electrical system components, including service panels (fuse and circuit breaker boxes), meter switches and outlets are easily damaged by flood water. If they are inundated for even a short period, they will probably have to be replaced. Elevating the system at least one foot above the level of a 100 year flood may be effective in preventing damage to the system from future floods, including fire damage from short circuits in a flooded system. This work should be carried out only by a licensed contractor.
For more tips and information, survivors can visit their local DRC to meet with a mitigation specialist.
The first step to recovery is registering with FEMA. The registration deadline is Oct. 11, 2011.
Applicants may register for assistance or check the status of their registration by calling FEMA's toll-free registration line, 1-800-621-FEMA (3362), online at www.disasterassistance.gov, or by smartphone at m.fema.gov. If the applicant has a speech disability or hearing loss and uses a TTY, call 1-800-462-7585 directly; if the applicant uses 711 or Video Relay Service (VRS), call 1-800-621-3362. FEMA phone lines are open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week; multilingual operators are available.
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.