NEW YORK - Most of us make New Year’s resolutions to look better, feel better or reach a long-term goal.
This year resolve to rebuild stronger, safer and smarter after Hurricane Sandy to save lives and property when the next weather disaster strikes.
Hazard mitigation is building smart, strong and safe to prevent future damage from severe weather. Smart building includes mitigating damage against floods, strong winds and even tornadoes.
Always contact a local building official before undertaking rebuilding, renovating or retrofitting to be sure your plans meet local and state government requirements. You also need the proper permits from your local municipality to avoid future problems.
Such simple mitigation measures as elevating electrical and heating systems and anchoring fuel storage tanks can provide a windfall of protection against severe weather.
Mitigation can also include landscaping. For instance, sea oats and other grasses can provide soil stability against storm surge. Ask your landscaper what indigenous plants withstand severe weather and protect property. Professional tree pruning can save not only the tree but can minimize the damage caused by a tree in severe weather.
Just an inch of water can cause costly damage to your property.
The average annual U.S. flood losses in the past 10 years (2002-2011) were more than $2.9 billion.
Rebuilding smartly in a flood-prone area means preventing future damages from flooding such as elevating your structure above the base flood elevation or higher. Flood hazard maps show different zones of hazard which determines policy premiums. The lower the degree of risk, the lower the flood insurance premium.
By elevating your home above that potential flood elevation, you not only reduce the risk of flooding, you save on the cost of flood insurance. The FEMA’s NFIP policy can cover structures and personal property. You don’t have to live in a flood-prone area to buy FEMA’s flood insurance policy which is sold by most insurance agents.
To be eligible to buy FEMA’s flood insurance your community must participate in the National Flood Insurance Program. Check the Community Status Book to see if your community is already an NFIP partner. (http://www.fema.gov/national-flood-insurance-program/national-flood-insurance-program-community-status-book)
Wind will quickly damage vulnerable homes and buildings. The roof is most susceptible to wind. The type of roof is the first factor in limiting damage.
Whether with new construction or retrofitting an existing roof, build to ensure the connections between the roof and walls are strong enough to resist the "uplift" effect of high winds. When the roof lifts off it may collapse back down on the house.
Getting down to the foundation, many homes are built on concrete pads to which they are only slightly connected. Severe winds pull the walls right out of the foundation. To resist high winds, structures must be firmly connected to foundations.
Mitigation Dollars at Work
For New York damages caused by Hurricane Sandy, the U. S. Small Business Administration has provided $357 million to help homeowners, businesses and private non-profit organizations rebuild their properties damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Sandy. Some funds have also been allocated for the mitigation of similar damages during future events.
More information about Resolving to Be Ready and Rebuilding Strong and Smart are available online:
- Protecting Your Home and Property From Flood Damage: Mitigation Ideas For Reducing Flood Loss: an extensive collection of ideas. http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?fromSearch=fromsearch&id=4654
- Home Builder's Guide to Coastal Construction: 37 fact sheets for areas subject to wind and flood forces. http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?fromSearch=fromsearch&id=2138
- Above the Flood: Elevating your Flood prone House: examples from south Florida. http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do;jsessionid=E255E878941BF78963FEC5E2C311C0A3.WorkerLibrary?fromSearch=fromsearch&id=1424
- Wind Retrofit Guide for Residential Buildings: how to improve wind resistance of existing buildings. http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?fromSearch=fromsearch&id=4569
- Anchoring Home Fueltanks (DVD): Describes methods for anchoring tanks. http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do;jsessionid=E255E878941BF78963FEC5E2C311C0A3.WorkerLibrary?fromSearch=fromsearch&id=2021
- Best Build I: Building Coastal Homes: Safe and cost effective ways to build coastal homes. http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do;jsessionid=E255E878941BF78963FEC5E2C311C0A3.WorkerLibrary?fromSearch=fromsearch&id=2131
- Avoiding Hurricane Damage: A Checklist for Homeowners What to do before the storm. http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do;jsessionid=E255E878941BF78963FEC5E2C311C0A3.WorkerLibrary?fromSearch=fromsearch&id=2102
- Asistencia De Mitigacion Contra Inundaciones http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do;jsessionid=E255E878941BF78963FEC5E2C311C0A3.WorkerLibrary?fromSearch=fromsearch&id=1460
- Listo America –Ready.Gov
- FEMA also has videos on YouTube: “What is Mitigation?”