AUBURN, Ala. – Tropical Storm Cindy has dumped heavy rains from Texas to Alabama, causing localized flooding in many locations. Advance preparations can reduce your risk of flood damage to interior contents and reduce loss of important items. Before making any changes, check with your local code and housing officials, insurance representatives and floodplain manager to ensure the changes meet regulations.
Locate Utility Systems
- Relocate the main breaker or fuse box for the utility meter above the potential flood level for your home or to a higher floor.
- Raise outlets and switchers to higher levels in rooms if allowed by local or state codes.
- Install ground fault circuit interrupters to prevent electrical hazards.
Safeguarding Appliances and Household Systems
- Raise heating equipment and air conditioners to higher levels, a higher floor or to the attic. You may need to build floor reinforcements to handle extra weight.
- Install outside air conditioners on a higher platform above potential water levels.
- Relocate washers, dryers and water-conditioning equipment to higher floors or raise them onto secure platforms inside the lower levels. Provide spillage pans and overflow drains to prevent water damage from leaks. You may need floor reinforcement.
- You can construct sturdy platforms if equipment cannot be moved to higher levels. This will raise them up from the existing floor level.
- If you cannot raise the equipment, build interior lower floodwalls around equipment to protect against shallow water. Use plastic and waterproofing products to make a concrete or block floodwall water resistant However, the exterior water pressure may collapse the floodwall.
Make Repairs Easier and Faster Drying
- Place nonpaper gypsum wallboard or cement board horizontally on the wall to make it easier to remove. If the water level is less than a couple of feet, you may need to remove only the lower wallboard. Wicking frequency will wet wallboard a couple of feet above the water level. Mold can occur within a wet wall cavity. Leave a gap between the lower and upper horizontal wallboards to allow for drying and to prevent wicking between the two. Caulk the gap to reduce moisture wicking from one wallboard to another. Cover the gap with a trim or railing that is easy to remove for faster drying.
- Leave a gap at the bottom of the gypsum wallboard to allow for drainage and drying
- Attach floor moldings for easy removal allowing inner wall cavities to drain and dry.
- Metal studs and sill plates that are corrosion resistant may be easier to clean.
- Use flooring materials, such as tiles and concrete, that resist water damage. In addition, if you use area rugs, make sure that you can move it before water enters. Rugs are also easier to clean because you can take them outside to dry and professionals can clean them. Another floor covering that may be used is unattached indoor-outdoor carpet. Installed carpets and pads are usually removed and disposed of after a water or flood event unless the water is clean and the event is minor.
Take Additional Actions
- Install check valves or backflow valves in plumbing and sanitary sewer lines to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains.
- Check interior drainage hoses on washing machines and dishwashers. Replace the standard hose with a reinforced hose and install and use shut-offs.
- Monitoring devices that sense water on floor surfaces are available. Some devices are on a water shut-off device for that area. They are useful if pipes or hoses leak or break. Other systems monitor the water entering the home. The device turns off the water when the usual amounts are higher than normal.
- You can store items that are not susceptible to damage by gases given off by some plastics in plastic bags. You then store them in sturdy plastic storage containers with tight-fitting lid. Monitor the contents for moisture and mold. Mold can result if humidity levels are high.
- Store items that are on the lowest level, high off the floor. Water damage is less likely.
- Keep valuable items out of basements and off the floor if it is subject to flooding.
- Keep copies of valuable documents and photos in a safe deposit box at another location or with relatives or friends outside the area.
- Consider temporarily moving those items that are most meaningful to you or the family to another location outside the high risk area, if you have a flood or hurricane warning and have sufficient time.
- A 5 to 10 percent slope away from the home for a minimum of 10 feet will reduce foundation leakage. The ground or lot should drain away from the house.
The Alabama Cooperative Extension System has an iBook to help families, businesses and communities prepare for storms and clean up after they pass. The Emergency Handbook is a comprehensive resource for emergency planning, preparation and storm recovery. It is available as a free download from iBooks. Also, The Emergency Handbook can be found online on the Alabama Extension website at http://www.aces.edu/go/755 .
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