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Hazard Mitigation: Reduce Future Storm Losses

Release date: 
October 6, 1999
Release Number: 

ALBANY, N.Y. As New Yorkers in many areas recover from Tropical Storm Floyd, many have already received disaster assistance grants, settled their insurance claims or are preparing to dip into their savings to repair or rebuild their homes. Those who are ready to rebuild or repair must think very hard about how to prevent future flood losses.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the New York State Emergency Management Office have a number of hazard mitigation suggestions on what can be done to prevent or reduce future flood losses in the home.

State and federal officials say that mitigation measures have been proven to work in other disasters around the nation. That is why they want area residents to consider these measures.

Purchasing flood insurance through the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) is a wise step to take, no matter where you live.

  • Flood insurance is available in all communities that participate in the NFIP

  • There is a 30-day waiting period after the premium is paid before flood insurance goes into effect

  • Homeowners who carry flood insurance are covered against any flood-related damage to ground level or upper floor(s) of their homes

  • Coverage for flood-caused damage to basements is limited to structural elements and basic items used to service the building such as furnaces, water heaters, utility connections, etc.

  • To purchase a policy, homeowners can contact their local insurance agent or call the National Flood Insurance Hotline toll-free at 1-800-427-4661 for more information

When you start to rebuild, state and federal disaster recovery officials suggest the following:

Local codes generally require a building permit before you make repairs or flood-proofing improvements to a structure. Owners or contractors usually need to get a permit for electrical work, plumbing, and repairs for structural damage such as foundations and exterior walls. Failure to follow local building codes can result in an order to stop reconstruction, a fine, higher flood insurance rates and/or denial of flood insurance.

Because flood damage starts at the lowest point in a structure and works upward, damage to utilities and appliances such as washers and dryers may be prevented by elevating or relocating them to the first or second floor. Heating and hot water systems, furnaces, and major appliances can be placed on a sufficient masonry base at least 12 inches above the high water mark from the last flood, or a known flood elevation from an appropriate flood insurance map. Some heating systems could be suspended from the basement ceiling to elevate them above the flood level. Owners may also want to consider relocating such systems from a basement to the first floor or even the attic.

Electric panels, circuit breakers, wall switches and electric outlets should be relocated at least 12 inches above the high water mark from the last flood, or a known flood elevation from the appropriate flood insurance map. Maximum height of electric panels is regulated by code and all relevant permits must be obtained before work begins.

Floodwater can enter a structure through the sewer pipes. To prevent this, or any sewer backup, a backflow valve can be installed inside or outside the structure. The valve should conform to state and local building codes.


Last Updated: 
July 16, 2012 - 18:46
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