Protecting Your Property
Flood Prevention Solutions
There are several ways to protect a building from flood damage. Keep flood waters away from your building by re-grading your lot or building a flood wall or earthen berm around your property. These methods work if your lot is large enough, the flood depth is not too deep, and the property is not in a channel or flood way.
You can also waterproof foundation walls and seal up openings below flood levels, such as windows. This can be done by replacing them with glass blocks or by raising window wells above potential water levels.
A more permanent solution is to raise the house above flood levels. A small wood frame house can be elevated for approximately $10,000. Sound crazy? Check out the house at 601 Hartung Street. This house was moved to that location and set on a new foundation that is two feet above the base flood elevation for the area.
Sewer Backups & Flood Proofing
Rain and groundwater is clear water that must be kept out of sanitary sewers by law, also known as clear water separation. Clear water illegally entering sanitary sewers surcharges the sewers during heavy rains, increasing the potential for basement flooding. Many houses, even those not in a floodplain, have sewers which back up into the basement because of surcharged sewers.
During the 1990 flood, most of the reported basement flooding resulted from water backing up through basement floor drains or from overflowing fixtures located in the basements. Compounding the problem, electrical power outages left many sump pumps without power and water-filled basements.
Proper installation and maintenance of backwater valves for plumbing fixtures installed below sidewalk grade can help prevent sewer backups. Backwater valves can be purchased at your local hardware store, or you can talk to a plumbing contractor about installing one for you. These measures are called flood proofing or retrofitting. It is important to note that alterations to your building or land may require permits. Even regrading or filling in the floodplain requires plan approval and land-use permits.
Take Action Early
If you are warned of possible flooding, it’s important to take action early. Shut off gas and electricity and move valuable contents to high ground if possible. It is unlikely that you will get much advance warning so make a detailed checklist in advance to help ensure you don’t forget anything. More information can be found at the FEMA website.