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Avoiding Flood Damage and Protecting Your Property

Flood protection can involve a variety of changes to your house and property–changes that can vary in complexity and cost. You may be able to make some types of changes yourself. But complicated or large-scale changes and those that affect the structure of your house or its electrical wiring and plumbing should be carried out only by a professional contractor licensed to work in your state, county, or city.
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Are You At Risk?
If you aren't sure whether your house is at risk from flooding, check with your local floodplain manager, building official, city engineer, or planning and zoning administrator. They can tell you whether you are in a flood hazard area. Also, they usually can tell you how to protect yourself and your house and property from flooding.

Anchor Fuel Tanks

Unanchored fuel tanks can be easily moved by flood waters. These tanks pose serious threats not only to you, your family, and your house, but also to public safety and the environment. An unanchored tank outside your house can be driven into your walls, and it can be swept downstream, where it can damage other houses. When an unanchored tank in your basement is moved by flood waters, the supply line can tear free and your basement can be contaminated by oil. Even a buried tank can be pushed to the surface by the buoyant effect of soil saturated by water.

As shown in the figure, one way to anchor a tank is to attach it to a large concrete slab whose weight is great enough to resist the force of flood waters. This method can be used for all tanks, both inside and outside your house. You can also anchor an outside tank by running straps over it and attaching them to ground anchors.

Anchoring a 1,000-gallon fuel tank to a concrete base will cost you about $300 to $500. Using straps and ground anchors will cost about $300.

Raise Electrical System Components

Electrical system components, including service panels (fuse and circuit breaker boxes), meters, switches, and outlets, are easily damaged by flood water. If they are inundated for even short periods, they will probably have to be replaced. Another serious problem is the potential for fires caused by short circuits in flooded systems. Raising electrical system components helps you avoid those problems. Also, having an undamaged, operating electrical system after a flood will help you clean up, make repairs, and return to your home with fewer delays.

As shown in the figure, all components of the electrical system, including the wiring, should be raised at least 1 foot above the 100-year flood level. In an existing house, this work will require the removal of some interior wall sheathing (drywall, for example). If you are repairing a flood-damaged house or building a new house, elevating the electrical system will be easier.
Estimated Cost

Raising the electrical service panel, meter, and all of the outlets, switches, and wiring in a 1,000-square-foot, single-floor house will cost about $1,500 to $2,000. If this work is performed during the repair of a damaged house or construction of a new house, the cost may be much lower.

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