JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – Mitigation experts at the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) say there is no better time than now for Missouri homeowners to start thinking about how to prepare for the next flood.
For the big jobs, homeowners will want to hire a reputable licensed contractor. FEMA mitigation officials suggest getting bids from two or three contractors. And ask for references. Minor repairs and renovations may be easy work for experienced do-it-yourselfers. However, tasks such as relocating basement appliances and electrical equipment may require the help of a professional.
Start with the main circuit breaker or fuse box. Move it up to at least 12 inches above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) for your home. Your insurance agent or local flood plain administrator will be able to tell you what that level is. Check with your local building department. If the electrical code allows, raise electrical outlets and switches above flood level.
If you need to replace a flood-damaged furnace, water heater or air conditioner, have the new one installed on a higher floor. If your air conditioner or heat pump is outdoors, install it on a raised platform. Place washers and dryers on blocks, making sure they will not vibrate off the blocks during use. A one- or two-foot-high waterproof floodwall around appliances will protect them from shallow flooding.
More do-it-yourself tips for repairing flood-damaged buildings:
Walls: If the wallboard and insulation were removed, wash and disinfect the exposed vertical wooden studs and the horizontal wooden sills at their base. If rebuilding, consider metal studs and sills, as they are less damaged by water than wooden ones.
Wallboard: If you install the wall board horizontally (four feet high), you’ll only have to replace half the wall if the next flood is less than four feet deep. Leave the wall open one inch above the sill. The baseboards will hide the gap, and all you have to do after the next flood is remove the baseboard and the wall cavity will drain freely and air will circulate better.
Floors: Particle board or plywood fall apart when wet for lengthy periods. Floor joists and some wood floors regain their shape when naturally dried. Use screws or screw nails on floors and stairs to minimize warping. Completely dry subflooring before laying new flooring or carpeting. Re-nail, then sand or place a new underlayment for a new floor.
Paints: Completely dry the surface before painting. This may take several weeks, but paint will peel if applied over a damp surface. Coat concrete surfaces with penetrating sealer for easier future cleanup.
Windows and Doors: When appropriate, replace flood damaged windows with vinyl or metal framed windows. Hollow core or polystyrene foam filled metal doors are water resistant.
Despite all that you have done, natural disasters are unpredictable, and even the best preparations may not hold up in the next flood. So it’s strongly recommended that homeowners look into purchasing a National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) policy, especially if your home or business is located in a flood plain or high-risk area.
NFIP insurance is available to homeowners, renters, condo owners/renters, and commercial owners/renters in communities that participate in the NFIP. Missouri communities in the program are listed here — http://www.fema.gov/cis/MO.html. Other communities can request to be added if they meet certain criteria. More than 75 private insurance agents or agencies in Missouri are certified to sell and service NFIP policies, including all of those listed on this link — http://www.fema.gov/wyo_company.
For more ideas on reducing flood loss, check out the FEMA booklet “Protecting Your Home and Property from Flood Damage” at https://www.fema.gov/media-library/assets/documents/21471.
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For breaking news about flood recovery, follow FEMA Region 7 on Twitter at https://twitter.com/femaregion7 and turn on mobile notifications or visit the FEMA webpages dedicated to this disaster at www.fema.gov/disaster/4250.
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