Taking mitigation actions can help protect your home from the disastrous effects of severe flood damage. There are many ways to help protect your home from flooding, ranging from easy and affordable to involved and expensive. Understanding which of these to apply is tied to your likely flood risk.
The National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) provides building standards for flood resistance. Buildings that are constructed in compliance with these standards experience almost 80% less damage annually than non compliant buildings.
Purchasing flood insurance is an important first step in protecting your home. Flooding can occur almost anywhere and climate change is making floods more frequent and intense. Federal disaster assistance, which comes in the form of a low-interest FEMA loan, is only available if the flooded area is declared a natural disaster. It is therefore important to purchase insurance even if you are outside a FMEA designated high-risk flood zone. You can purchase NFIP flood insurance through your local agent. Don’t wait on purchasing insurance; policies typically go into effect 30 days after purchase.
In the case of a flood, it is important to have a mitigation plan ready for your house, your family and your valuable possessions. Here are some tips:
Mitigation starts with knowledge about how your home is likely to be impacted by flooding. Obtaining your ClimateCheck property report is a great way of assessing your present and future risk. The FEMA flood maps are also a highly detailed and community-specific resource for understanding your flood risk. Flood risk to real estate is often measured using a FEMA metric called the Base Flood Elevation (BFE). The BFE describes the level floodwater is expected to reach during a flood event that has a one in one-hundred chance of occurring in any given year. See this guide for information on how to read and evaluate FEMA flood maps, and our article giving details on FEMA flood zone designations. Your local floodplain manager and emergency manager can give you additional information on the possible water hazards in your community.
Flood prevention and mitigation options can be grouped into the two categories of “wet flood-proofing” and “dry flood-proofing”. Wet floodproofing allows flood waters to enter and flow through the enclosed areas of a house. In contrast, dry floodproofing seeks to prevent the entry of flood water entirely. The benefit of allowing waters to flood through your home can be to relieve pressure imposed on a home during floods and therefore reduce the likelihood of structural damage. Most mitigation options, however, fall into the category of dry floodproofing and water prevention.
Use the following checklist to see what mitigation actions are appropriate for you:
Less Expensive Options
More Expensive Options
Many of the most important flood protection efforts can be made at the community level. Community-wide flood risk management efforts like restoring and protecting ecosystems and adding green space to improve water retention can make a huge difference to the flood risk of an area.
Creating an action plan for flooding and investing in mitigation for your home contributes towards your community’s flood preparedness. In addition, individuals can take actions to reduce strain on shared community resources during storms. Taking these actions collectively as a community can change flood outcomes for your home. For example, reduce the amount of storm water you are putting into the municipal sewer system. The more stress placed on the system, the greater chances that the community drainage system will get overwhelmed and cause flooding.
The National Flood insurance Program is a federally supported flood insurance program which makes coverage available to homeowners, renters, and business owners. It requires flood insurance in all high-risk areas. In addition, they encourage homeowners to use flood mitigation options. Planning as a community for flood is worth it; the cost of flood damage nationwide has been reduced by nearly $1 billion a year through the implementation of floodplain management requirements and the use of flood insurance plans.
Local officials may determine that your home falls within an area that is likely to be substantially or repetitively damaged by flood. In this case, you may be required to make changes to the structure of your home to bring it into compliance with floodplain management ordinances. In this case, you may be able to utilize coverage called Increased Cost of Compliance (ICC) to provide up to $30,000 in financial assistance for flood mitigation repairs.
After your home has weathered a flood, it is still important to act carefully to ensure the safety of your home and family during cleanup. Make sure that you approach your home with caution. You may be faced with the danger of electrical hazards, structural damage, and falling objects. Flooding may have caused hazardous materials like oil and chemicals to be deposited by flood waters. In addition, standing water for more than 24 hours can cause the growth of biological hazards such as bacteria, viruses, molds and mildew on your carpets and other porous surfaces. If you plan to make an insurance claim, make sure that you remember to take photos of structural and personal property damage inside and outside your home before you start the cleanup process.
Flooding can happen almost anywhere. It is therefore important to use a mix of mitigation and insurance coverage to protect yourself from flood risk that has become more extreme with climate change. Often properties are affected by several kinds of extreme weather throughout the year; learn to protect your home from other types of extreme climate risk.