SAN ANTONIO, Texas -- Even minor emergency disaster repairs require meeting local building requirements and coordinating with local officials, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (DEM).
Many Texans have already started a massive rebuilding and fix-up job to repair damage from October's disastrous flooding. A toll-free Rebuilding Smartline has been set up to assist people who want to rebuild homes or businesses damaged by the storms and flooding. Experts will be available with advice on ways to repair, replace or retrofit structures to protect them against floods and other natural disasters from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday-Saturday at 1-800-628-5769.
But before anyone starts a repair job, even one funded by a FEMA emergency disaster repair grant, they should check with local officials and get any required permits, said Ed Laundy, DEM state coordinating officer.
People who start work without learning about local ordinances and codes may wind up having to start over, with all the time and expense that involves. Local rules determine in large part what you can and cannot do.
Local building officials not only can help individuals avoid costly mistakes, but also can offer technical advice on the best way to prevent future damages, including:
- rebuilding with materials less likely to be damaged by water, such as tile rather than carpeting;
- raising utility connections and electrical outlets; and
- elevating the structure above the base flood elevation (This is the level at which there is a one percent chance of flooding every year.)
"Experience has shown that lives can be saved, homes protected and economic recovery accelerated by building safer, stronger buildings," Laundy said. "Property owners have a responsibility to rebuild in a way that reduces future flood losses. The responsibility is not only to themselves, but to the future owners of the property - who may be their children or grandchildren."
For detailed instruction about rebuilding to reduce future flood damage, FEMA has a free publication, "Homeowner's Guide to Retrofitting: Six Ways to Protect Your House from Flooding," which is available from the FEMA distribution center. Call 1-800-480-2520 and ask for FEMA publication #312. The publication also can be found on FEMA's Internet homepage, http://www.fema.gov. Information also is available on the Floodplain Management Association web page at http://www.floodplain.org.