New Yorkers Urged to Use ‘Flood Smart’ Building Techniques

ALBANY, N.Y. – Recovering from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee may offer New York residents an opportunity to rebuild smarter, safer and stronger homes and businesses using “flood smart” building techniques.

“Some ways of rebuilding after a major disaster are better than others,” said Federal Coordinating Officer Philip E. Parr. “Rebuilding to reduce or prevent flood damage in the future is the smart thing to do.”
For example, basement electrical system components should be raised at least one foot above the 100-year flood level in order to prevent future flood damage. Heating fuel tanks – oil or propane – should be secured strongly enough to prevent movement. Backflow valves may be needed on washing machine drain lines, laundry sinks and sewer connections. If floors and walls have to be replaced, use materials resistant to water damage. And if a dwelling is substantially damaged, make sure that the lowest floor of the structure is elevated above the base flood elevation.
Always remember to contact your local building code official to obtain all necessary permits before any repairs take place.
  • Relocate or elevate water heaters, furnaces and major appliances. Elevate water heaters, furnaces and appliances, such as washers and dryers, especially if they are located in a basement. Place them on a pressure-treated wood or masonry base at least 12 inches above ground level.
  • Elevate or relocate electrical systems. Electrical panel boxes, circuit breakers, wall switches and wall outlets should be at least one foot above the 100-year flood level. Some basement or first-floor electrical systems may even be moved to a higher floor.
  • Anchor fuel tanks. Indoor and outdoor fuel tanks should be anchored by non-corrosive metal straps or pressure-treated wood to prevent them from turning over or floating away.
  • Repair leaks and cracks immediately. Leaky roofs and foundation cracks let water into a home more readily. This weakens a structure and provides an ideal habitat for mold. If wet spots appear on the ceiling or cracks appear in a foundation, fix them immediately.
  • Clean gutters and drains. If gutters and drainage systems are blocked by leaves or debris, water can overflow and quickly flood a home or yard. Check all gutters and drainage systems regularly for leaves and nests.
  • Invest in a battery-powered sump pump. Sump pumps remove water from a structure and can be an excellent defense against flooding -- unless they’re powered by electricity and the power is out. Battery-powered sump pumps are a relatively inexpensive solution. Be sure to purchase a backup battery as well.
  • Install a backflow valve, check valve, drain plug or standpipe. These measures ensure sewage only flows one way – out of the home.
FEMA publications on mitigating flood damage are available online at The series includes topics like Above the Flood: Elevating Your Flood-prone House, Repairing Your Flood Damaged Home, Design Guidelines for Flood Damage Reduction, Answers to Questions about Substantially Damaged Buildings and many more.
For more information on building safer, visit
FEMA's mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards.
11/30/2011 - 11:18am