Flood proofing a house means altering it so floodwaters will not cause damage. Different flood proofing techniques are appropriate for different types of buildings. See Sammy Sandbag's Guide to Flood Protection, which is available free at the Building Department.
Use the following as a guideline:
- If you have a basement, split level, or other floor below ground level, there are lots of ways to protect your basement or lower floor from seepage and sewer backup (see illustration).
- If your house is on a slab foundation, investigate a low floodwall, berm or "dry flood proofing" (i.e., making the walls watertight and closing all the openings when a flood comes)
- If your house is on a crawlspace, a low floodwall, berm or "wet flood proofing" will work. "Wet flood proofing" means moving all items subject to damage out of harm's way so water can flow into the crawlspace and not cause any problems. If floodwaters go over the first floor, it is relatively easy to elevate the building to get the first floor above the flood level
An excellent source for more information is Homeowner's Guide to Retrofitting: Six Ways to protect Your House from Flooding (FEMA publication 312). It can be read at the Library, ordered (for free) from the Federal Emergency Management Agency by calling 1-800/480-2520, or viewed and downloaded from FEMA's web site at:
No matter what kind of building you have, some last minute emergency measures can always help. For example, you could move valuable items (photos, antiques, and other "irreplaceables" etc.) or items that are most damaged by floodwaters (upholstered furniture, stuffed toys, mattresses, foam rubber, etc.) up to a higher level. You can place sandbags or plastic sheeting in front of doorways and other low entry points. Whatever emergency protection measures you use, it is always best to have a plan written in advance to make sure you don't forget anything after you hear the flood warning. Keep in mind the flood safety hints at the end of this newsletter.