Charleston, WV -- A sudden storm can cause serious damage to property and possessions, but the homeowner who takes steps to retrofit his or her home in anticipation of the unexpected comes out ahead. Retrofitting is modifying your home to protect against flood damages. Have you taken this precaution? Have you wondered if it's really necessary to go to the expense of retrofitting because you are not in a floodplain or an area prone to flooding?
According to officials of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the West Virginia Office of Emergency Services (WVOES), flash floods, mudslides, overflows and runoffs menace large areas of the state. "The speed and path of recent storms remind us how quickly they can cause widespread damage," said Steve Kappa, state coordinating officer for WVOES. "We are urging individuals and local officials to make their homes and communities disaster resistant."
Before a homeowner decides on what extent to retrofit the home, four things should be considered. You will want to know what damage-reduction methods are available, the degree to which they work, their cost, and whether they meet your needs.
Damage Reduction Methods
- Elevation - Involves raising your house to bring the lowest floor above flood level. This is the most common way to avoid flood damage.
- Wet floodproofing - Protects a building by allowing floodwaters to enter uninhabited areas of the property-parking and storage areas for example.
- Dry floodproofing - Sealing the house to prevent floodwaters from entering.
- Relocation - Moving your house to higher ground.
- Levees and floodwalls - Barriers constructed of compacted soil or manmade materials like concrete or masonry that block floodwaters.
- Relocation - Moving your house outside of the flood hazard area.
- Demolition - Demolishing your home and rebuilding on the property or elsewhere, to meet flood-resistant standards.
Determine What Methods Will Work Best
- Inspect your home with the various damage-reduction methods in mind.
- Check with local officials concerning hazards, codes and regulations, technical guidance and financial assistance.
- Consult with a design professional and a contractor.
Once you have obtained as much information as possible on damage-reduction methods and know which will work for your structure, decide on how much you will have to spend to accomplish your retrofitting goals.
Finances should not be a stumbling block to homeowners, according to Louis Botta, FEMA federal coordinating officer. "Individuals who want to protect their home by retrofitting should consider FEMA's National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). Policy-holders may qualify for Increased Cost of Compliance coverage for substantially damaged properties, which helps pay for some types of retrofitting," said Botta. Loans and help with insurance payments may also be available.
For information on NFIP call 1-800-CALL-FLOOD ext. 304 or visit FEMA's Web site at www.floodalert.fema.gov. For more information on floodproofing your home, you can order the Homeowner's Guide to Retrofitting, Publication 312, by calling FEMA at 1-800-480-2520.
On March 1, 2003, FEMA became part of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. FEMA's continuing mission within the new department...