There are many simple things you can do to protect your property from the water and wind damage associated with hurricanes and tropical storms. Mitigation is any action that reduces or eliminates long term risk to people and property from natural and man-made hazards and their effects.
While hurricane-force winds may buffet Virginia's Tidewater communities, typically by the time a hurricane reaches Central Virginia it has been downgraded to a tropical storm or even a tropical depression. With tropical storms and depressions, flooding is the central concern but wind can also be a factor (tropical storms have winds of 39 to 73 miles per hour). Here are some ways you can reduce damage from flooding and wind wherever you live.
Know Your Flood Risk
- Call your local emergency management office, building department or floodplain management office for information about flooding. Ask to see a flood map of your community. This information will help you determine how much water is likely to come in.
Remove Debris from Gutters and Culverts
- Removing debris will allow rain water to flow freely through gutters and storm drains.
Be Aware Of How Stormwater Drains
- When it rains, pay attention to how stormwater drains from your property and into storm drains on the street. Do not do any alterations of landscaping on your property that will prevent proper storm water drainage.
Secure Fuel Tanks
- A fuel tank can tip over or float in a flood, causing fuel to spill or catch fire. Cleaning up a house that has been damaged by floodwaters containing fuel oil can be difficult and costly. Make sure tanks are anchored so they will not move.
Install Float Plugs In Your Floor Drains
- If a drain pipe backs up, the float will rise, plugging up the drain and preventing water from backing up through the drain.
Install Backflow Valves In Your Sewer System
- To prevent floodwaters from causing sewage to back up into your home, have a plumber install interior or exterior backflow valves.
- If you have a basement prone to flooding, you can use waterproofing compounds to seal walls and windows of basements. When applying these compounds, it is important to follow the manufacturer's directions.
Raise Utilities and Appliances
- If you have electrical panel boxes, furnaces, water heaters, and appliances such as washers and dryers in areas prone to flooding, consider elevating them. Consider elevating furnaces and appliances by placing them on platforms in the same space or moving them to higher floors of the house. Electrical panel boxes, water heaters, or furnaces could be moved to higher floors, or the attic.
Consider purchasing Flood Insurance
- Just an inch of water can cause costly damage to your property. Everyone lives in a flood zone - it is simply a matter of degree of risk. Homeowners Insurance does not cover flooding. It takes 30 days after you purchase a flood insurance policy for it to take effect so don't wait until there is a hurricane watch in your area to think about flood insurance. For more information about the National Flood Insurance Program - check out their website: www.floodsmart.gov.
Make A List
- Keep a list handy of things you need to bring inside that could become missiles under windy conditions such as trash cans, lawn furniture, bicycles, children's toys, and garden tools. Having a list makes it easy if a storm approaches quickly and you are not thinking clearly. (This list is also useful for thunderstorms, windy days, or tornadoes.)
Keep Trees and Shrubbery Trimmed
- Keeping greenery trimmed reduces the dead branches and debris that can be carried by the wind or clog up gutters and storm drains. Trees can be trimmed so that they are "wind resistant" which reduces the chances they will fall in high winds.
Protect Your Roof
- Have a professional inspect your roof to make sure that the roof sheathing (the boards or plywood nailed to the roof rafters or trusses) is nailed properly and that the end gables are securely braced. Install hurricane straps to fasten the roof to the walls of the house to give it added protection in high winds.
Secure Double Entry And Garage Doors
- Double entry doors and garage doors can make your house vulnerable in high winds. Ask your hardware store for guidance on how to secure double entry doors on the top and the bottom with sliding bolts and for suggestions for strengthening garage doors.