In the US and globally, floods are not only deadly but also expensive. To give you an idea, hitting the US Gulf Coast in 2005, Hurricane Katrina caused 1,800 deaths and about $161 billion in property damage, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Other recent floods that have caused billions of dollars in damage include Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Maria, with total costs of $125 billion and $90 billion, respectively, as per the NOAA. In light of these numbers, flood mitigation is vital. Keeping this in mind, here’s a look at flood mitigation.
Goals of Flood Mitigation
According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), flood mitigation aims to achieve two main objectives. These objectives include:
• mitigate the potential economic losses and threats to public safety and health linked to flooding
• preserve and restore the natural and beneficial resources and functions within areas prone to flooding
Types of Flood Mitigation Strategies
In general, flood mitigation strategies fall into two broad categories, including structural and non-structural strategies.
In essence, these aim to reduce the impact of flooding by reconstructing landscapes. Examples of such strategies include:
• Wet flood-proofing – Typically used for buildings and other structures, this is one of the most common small flood mitigation techniques. It entails creating flood openings/vents that direct water through typically uninhabited areas, such as basements and crawlspaces, which are typically located below a building’s elevation level. By allowing water to flow through a building, these vents prevent the build-up of hydrostatic pressure, and therefore, help minimize the risk of structural damage to a building. It is worth noting that the law requires buildings in certain FEMA-designated flood areas to have these openings.
• Dry flood-proofing – Contrary to wet flood-proofing, dry flood-proofing protects a building by preventing water from getting into a building. As such, dry flood-proofing entails waterproofing a building’s envelope. Some of the techniques you can use to achieve this goal include installing water-resistant doors and windows or placing water-resistant shields over your doors and windows, and applying a waterproof sealant to your home’s exterior. Big flood mitigation techniques here include the use of floodwalls or constructing temporary barriers around your home to keep floodwaters at bay. When constructing a floodwall, ensure you create an escape route for floodwater. Additionally, before you build a floodwall, ensure you check with your local code enforcement because you may need specific approvals, including construction permits.
It is worth noting that as old floodgates and dams have failed, structure solutions have become increasingly unpopular.
These strategies entail evacuating people and property from flood-prone areas to reduce the damage or constructing communities that are at lesser risk from floods. These include:
• Elevated Structures- Buildings with higher elevation are protected from flood damage due to the water flowing from the piers/columns used to elevate the house.
• Property Buyouts – Communities remove development from areas prone to flooding by purchasing properties from willing owners.
• Relocation- Permanent relocation may be an option for people who live in high-risk flood-prone areas.
• Building Codes- Buildings and houses constructed according to disaster-resistant building codes can prevent loss of lives and property in flood-prone areas.
As floods become increasingly devastating and costly in the US, you can use these flood mitigation techniques to protect your property. Equally important, you should carry flood insurance coverage. Contact the experts at First Insurance Solutions if you want to learn more about the home insurance policy. We will assist you with all your coverage needs.