West Salem, WI -- As cleanup continues in the aftermath of flooding, state and federal officials urge disaster--affected residents to take protective measures to prevent the damage from happening again.
"It's safer, cheaper, and ultimately much easier to limit future destruction than repair or replace your possessions after disaster strikes," said Tom Davies of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). These are called mitigation actions.
"The rebuilding phase of a disaster is the ideal time to consider ways to limit future damage," said Al Shanks, of Wisconsin Emergency Management. " If building or rebuilding, check with your local building official for proper permits and make sure that they are adhering to local building requirements. Also consult with a contractor, architect or structural engineer to evaluate your construction or repair projects. Several thousand dollars spent on advice and preventative actions can save many thousands of dollars in later damage."
- Construct floodwalls to stop floodwater from entering the building. Seal walls in basement with waterproofing compound to avoid seepage.
- On new buildings, think high and dry. Build living areas above the flood level and use lower levels only for garage or work areas. It is possible to elevate existing homes, but if too expensive, rethink the use of low living areas most likely to flood.
- When rebuilding after a flood, elevate or relocate your electric box or panel above flood damage to help prevent future damage.
- Relocate or elevate your furnace, water heater and major appliances on a base of masonry or pressure treated lumber. They can also be relocated out of the flood danger by moving them to the first floor.
- Relocate or elevate your heat pump or air conditioner.
- Stop sewer backup by installing a floor drain plug. Commercial plugs are available that can be placed in the floor drain below the grate. A plug not only stops water from entering the house but it prevents it from leaving the house as well.
- Install an interior floodwall of concrete blocks or poured concrete to protect heating systems.
Some mitigation measures, such as acquisition of structures or elevation of buildings are state--run, long--term projects. Interested residents should contact their local governing municipal officials. However, after working with local building officials, residents of flood--prone areas can make many simple home improvements themselves.
Remember, many homes located outside the flood zone flood every year. It is wise to consider simple ways to prevent flood damage. It is also prudent to purchase flood insurance, even if you are not in a flood zone.
Some of the best advice may come from your insurance agent and local building code officials. Ask your insurance agent about the National Flood Insurance Program. In almost all cases the purchase of flood insurance is a good investment. Homeowners' policies do not cover flood damage, but a rider for sewer backup can be added to this coverage.
"If your home is flood--prone or flood--damaged, you owe it to yourself to become knowledgeable about ways to flood--proof your property," Shanks said. "Developing a household disaster plan will help reduce the amount of structural damage to your home and financial loss from building and contents damage."
Funding for damage--prevention projects may be available to victims of the recent flood and storms who qualify for U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) low--interest loans. SBA may increase the approved loan amount by up to 20 percent if the funds are used for mitigation measures to protect the house from future damages....