In recovering from the recent severe weather and tornadoes Oklahomans have an opportunity to rebuild smarter, safer and stronger homes and businesses using “Flood Smart” building techniques.
The Oklahoma Department of Emergency Management and the Federal Emergency Management Agency offer the following recommendations when repairing or rebuilding flood-damaged properties:
• Electrical-system components should be raised to the community’s freeboard requirement above the base flood elevation in order to prevent future flood problems. Heating-fuel tanks, oil or propane, should be secured strongly enough to prevent any movement. Backflow valves may be needed on washing-machine drain lines, laundry sinks and sewer connections. If floors and walls have to be replaced, use materials resistant to water damage.
• If a dwelling is substantially damaged, make sure that the lowest floor of the structure is elevated above the base flood elevation. To determine what that elevation is, ask the local building department or call FEMA at 800-621-3362 and get directed to the proper source.
• Always remember to contact your local code officials to obtain all necessary permits before any repairs or new construction take place.
• Elevate water heaters, furnaces and appliances (such as washers and dryers), especially if they are located in a basement. Place them on a pressure-treated wood or masonry base at least 12 inches above floor level.
• Electrical panel boxes, circuit breakers, wall switches and wall outlets should be at least one foot above the 100-year flood level. Some basement or first-floor electrical systems may even be moved to a higher floor. Indoor and outdoor fuel tanks should be anchored by non-corrosive metal straps or pressure-treated wood to prevent them from turning over or floating away.
• Leaky roofs and foundation cracks let water into a home more readily. This weakens a structure and provides an ideal habitat for mold. If wet spots appear on the ceiling or cracks appear in a foundation, fix them immediately.
• If gutters and drainage systems are blocked by leaves or debris, water can overflow and quickly flood a home or yard. Check all gutters and drainage systems regularly for leaves and nests.
• Sump pumps remove water from a structure and can be an excellent defense against flooding – unless they’re powered by electricity and the power is out. Battery-powered sump pumps are a relatively inexpensive solution. Be sure to purchase a backup battery as well.
• Install a backflow valve, check valve, drain plug or standpipe. These measures ensure sewage only flows one way – out of the home.
• Oklahoma residents interested in placing a manufactured home on their property should work with local code officials to make sure the installation meets Oklahoma Department of Labor and floodplain regulations.
FEMA publications on mitigating flood damage are available online at www.fema.gov/plan/prevent/floodplain/publications.shtm. The series includes topics like Above the Flood: Elevating Your Flood-prone House, Repairing Your Flood Damaged Home, Design Guidelines for Flood Damage Reduction, Answers to Questions about Substantially Damaged Buildings and many more.
For more information on building safer, visit www.fema.gov/rebuild/smart_strong.shtm.