Property Protection Measures

Every year, flooding causes more property damage in the United States than any other type of natural disaster. While recent improvements in construction practices have made new homes less prone to flood damage, there are a significant number of existing homes that continue to be susceptible to repetitive losses. Many of these homeowners feel that they are trapped in a never-ending cycle of flooding and repairing. The house is rarely the same, and its value usually declines.

However, there are ways this cycle of repetitive flooding can be broken. Throughout the country, many examples can be found to illustrate practical and cost-effective methods for reducing or eliminating the risk of a house being flooded again. In cases where flooding may be unavoidable, steps are taken to reduce the amount of damages incurred. Some have reduced their flood losses by taking temporary measures such as moving furniture and equipment to upper floors or to higher elevations. Others have held back rising waters by sandbagging or building temporary levees. More permanent approaches have also been used. The Federal Insurance Administration has published a manual that describes various techniques that can be used to flood proof an existing building. This process is known as "retrofitting."

Permanent Retrofitting Measures

The Design Manual for Retrofitting Flood Prone Structures presents a series of permanent retrofitting measures that can be incorporated into an existing house to reduce or eliminate the potential of future flooding. The measures covered include:

  • Elevation of a structure
  • Relocation of a structure
  • Use of levees and floodwalls
  • Sealing a structure
  • Protection of utilities

This retrofitting document and others related to flooding can be ordered free of charge by calling FEMA at 800-480-2520. The county library and the county planning department also have flood related documents available for your review.