Best advice? Don’t rent, buy or build there!
Floods are going to happen anywhere there is water, rain, snow or the potential thereof. Even if one can obtain flood insurance, a renter or household will never be able to replace the heirlooms and souvenirs destroyed by a flood. As was seen in earlier articles of this series, flood damage can occur where no official map shows that flooding is possible. The best solution is just not live in such a location.
Many people have no choice, but live in a location or region subject to flooding. There are some architectural techniques, however, that can reduce the likelihood of damage or loss of life. They will be discussed according to the categories of flooding discussed in articles 2, 3, and 4.
1. Failure of mechanical systems
· When constructing a home or commercial building, do not use cheap, substandard plumbing components. Although they might seem to be saving money that could be used for more visible esthetic purposes, their failure could cost more money in the future.
· Install flood pans and drain pipes underneath water heaters. If a water heater leaks or cracks, the water will be conducted outside the building.
· Locate plumbing pipes where they can be accessed by plumbers in emergencies.
2. Failure of containment structures
· Never rent, buy or live in a house that is downstream from a dam and below the elevation of a dam.
· Never rent, buy or live next to a levee or above grade canal wall.
3. Damage from fire-fighting activities.
· Apartments and condominiums are much more subject to this type of flooding, but sometimes they occur in all types of housing.
4. Damage from sub-surface drainage
· When restoring an historic or older home, thoroughly waterproof the exterior basement walls. Also, install an automatic sump pump and catchment basin in the lowest point of the basement.
· When buying or building a house, thoroughly investigate the history of the landscape, if it seems lower than the surrounding terrain.
5. Damage from saturated soil to vegetation
· Don’t farm or plant trees in locations that drain poorly.
6. Damage from flash flooding
· Don’t rent, buy or build next to streams.
7. Damage from riverine flooding
· Don’t rent, buy or build in flood hazard areas or near streams
· Build occupied floors several feet above the highest known flood elevation.
8. Damage from flooded ponds, lakes and reservoirs
· Only rent, buy or build houses whose foundations are above the highest elevation of the dam.
9. Damage from estuarine flooding
· Don’t live near estuaries that are prone to high tides.
· Rent, buy or build houses, whose occupied floor levels are at least ten feet above highest tide level.
10. Damage from coastal flooding
· Don’t live near a beach or on an island whose highest level is less than 25 feet above sea level.
· If you must live in these locations build the house to the highest hurricane code standards and mount it on piers at least 10 feet above high tide.
· If you live near the ocean, there is not a whole lot you can do when a tsunami strikes. Keep operable at all times a tsunami warning device tuned to the National Weather Service.
11. Damage from mudslides
· Do not rent, buy or build on steep terrain or below steep terrain in regions prone to mudslides.
In our final segment, we will discuss means of survival if you are caught out in a flood while driving or walking.