Reduce Flood Risk with Better Building Options

As the northeast continues to recover from the devastating flooding from Hurricane Irene and rains from Tropical Storm Lee causing significant flooding across the southeast, FLASH encourages families to consider building options to keep dangerous floodwaters out of homes.

Flooding is the most common and deadly natural disaster in the U.S., however, there are options for reducing flood risk.  Those looking to reduce their flood risk should know their options for making their homes flood resistant.

Wet floodproofing and dry floodproofing are two methods for mitigating against flood.  Both provide families with long-term security and peace of mind that can come with implementing measures that protect their homes and keep their families safe.  However, it’s important to remember that “floodproofing” does not mean that damage is not going to happen.  It means the damage may be reduced and that the structure is made more flood or water-resistant.

Wet Floodproofing

Wet floodproofing makes uninhabited parts of your home resistant to flood damage when water is allowed to enter during flooding.  If your property is being remodeled or repaired, consider having a veneer added as part of the remodeling or repair work.  It will probably be less expensive to complete these projects at the same time rather than having them done separately.  The advantage of wet floodproofing is that it is less costly than other retrofits, no additional land is required and it does not affect the appearance of the house.   An example of wet floodproofing is to:

  • Install flood vents to create permanent openings in the foundation walls. This retrofit requires at least two vents on different walls. The size of the vents must be one square inch per square feet of enclosed floor area.  For example, a 1,000 square-foot house would require seven square feet of flood vents.
  • Add a waterproof veneer to the exterior walls and seal all openings including doors to prevent the entry of water.  The veneer can consist of a layer of brick backed by a waterproof membrane.

Dry Floodproofing

One way to protect a structure and its contents from flood damage is to seal the building so that flood waters cannot enter keeping the home interior and its contents dry.  This method is referred to as dry floodproofing.  Dry floodproofing is appropriate primarily for slab-on-grade buildings with concrete or solid masonry walls.  Concrete and masonry are easier to seal, more resistant to flood damage and stronger than other conventional construction materials.  Some examples of dry floodproofing include:

  • Applying a waterproof coating or membrane to the exterior walls of the building
  • Installing backflow valves in sanitary and storm sewer lines
  • Raising utility system components, machinery and other pieces of equipment above the flood level
  • Anchoring fuel tanks and other storage tanks to prevent flotation
  • Installing a sump pump and foundation drain system

In addition to floodproofing options, anyone at risk for flooding should also consider purchasing flood insurance.  Flood damage is typically not covered by traditional homeowners insurance.  Families interested in learning more should visit www.floodsmart.gov.

For more flood and other disaster safety tips, visit the FLASH website at www.flash.org.

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