Mitigation is the cornerstone of emergency management. It is the ongoing efforts to lessen the impact disasters have on people and property. Mitigation involves keeping homes away from floodplains, engineering bridges to withstand earthquakes, creating and enforcing effective building codes to protect property from hurricanes—and more.
The Mitigation Division at FEMA is the organization responsible for working with communities to encourage them to adopt and enforce ordinances that meet or exceed the minimum floodplain management requirements of the NFIP.
In response to the unacceptable loss of life and property from recent disasters, and the prospect of even greater catastrophic loss in the future, the Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 requires states and communities to develop a conceptual framework to reduce these losses.
For assistance from MSD, call these numbers:
Ways to Mitigate
When Property Is Substantially Damaged….Floodproof, Relocate, Elevate or Demolish (FRED)
Increased Cost of Compliance Coverage
All insurable buildings in NFIP communities have ICC coverage except structures insured under the Group Flood Insurance Policy, units insured under a condominium unit owner policy, and buildings located in communities participating in the Emergency Phase of the Program.
A professional engineer should be consulted when considering use of dry floodproofing because hydrostatic pressure (the pressure imposed by standing water) could cause a sealed structure to collapse under high water levels. Consequently, dry floodproofing is not appropriate where floodwaters are expected to be more than 3 feet deep. This form of mitigation is also not suitable for buildings with crawl spaces or basements because water can seep under the structure through these sites.
Wet floodproofing is often used when dry floodproofing is either not possible or too expensive. This form of protection can be employed on structures with basements. Wet floodproofing modifies a building to allow floodwaters inside while ensuring minimal damage to the structure and contents. To use this form of mitigation, there must be an area available above the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) where damageable items can be relocated or temporarily stored. Additionally, utilities and furnaces must either be protected or relocated to an area above the BFE.
There are three main components to wet floodproofing a structure: design elements (such as openings in foundation walls and other construction techniques), flood‑resistant materials (such as impervious construction materials and insulation), and protection of contents (by elevating mechanical, electrical, and HVAC systems or placing them in waterproof containers). As with the application of dry floodproofing techniques, developing a wet floodproofing strategy requires site-specific evaluations, which may involve the services of a design professional.
Additional information about floodproofing is available in two FEMA publications: Floodproofing for Non-Residential Structures and Technical Bulletin 7-93: Wet Floodproofing Requirements for Structures Located in Special Flood Hazard Areas. Both publications are available from the online FEMA Library, or by contacting the FEMA Distribution Center at 1-800-480-2520 or at the kiosk in MSD’s lobby.
A building can be raised above the BFE by placing it on a crawlspace or compacted fill, or by elevating it on piles or piers. The elevation method used is dependent on the condition of the structure, the source of flood hazard putting the building at risk, local floodplain regulations, and the owner’s financial resources. By raising a building so its lowest habitable floor is above the BFE, not only is this structure protected from floodwaters, but the owner can add parking and (limited) storage space beneath the building.
FEMA has approved three techniques for elevating buildings. Property owners may extend the walls of the building upward and raise the lowest habitable floor; convert the existing lower area of the house to non-habitable space, and build a new second story for living space; or lift the entire house (with the floor slab attached) and build a new, elevated foundation for the building.
When elevating, it is essential for all utilities (air conditioner, water heater, furnace, etc.) to be elevated at or above the BFE. After a building is elevated, the need to move vulnerable contents to areas above the water level during flooding is eliminated, except where a lower floor is used for storage.
Additional information about elevating buildings is available online in Above the Flood: Elevating your Flood Prone House or by contacting the FEMA Distribution Center at 1-800-480-2520 and requesting FEMA Document 347.
How to Start the FRED Process
If the community determines the home or business is substantially or repetitively damaged, a local official will explain to the property owner which of the floodplain management ordinance provisions must be met. It is advisable for the property owner to consult with the local official before deciding which option to pursue.
When the community has made the determination of ICC eligibility, the property owner contacts the insurance company or agent who wrote the flood policy to file an ICC claim. The insurer will assign a claims representative to help the policyholder file the ICC claim. At this time, the property owner can obtain contractor estimates for floodproofing, relocating, elevating, or demolishing.
Flood Mitigation Actions Checklist
Protecting Your Home From Future Flood Damage
You can reduce the risk of future flood damage to your property by taking common-sense steps when making repairs to your home or property. These steps are known as hazard mitigation. Mitigation techniques can be designed for your home to minimize the effects of floodwaters on your property and your family.
Many Mitigation Measures Are Low-Cost
Mitigation measures don't have to be expensive. There are low-cost measures you can take to reduce your risk from future flooding.
Heating and hot-water systems, washers, and dryers can be elevated on a platform at least 12 inches above the flood level. Electrical panels and utilities also should be relocated to an area above the flood level. If the space is not high enough to allow elevation of the utility, the utility may be moved to an upper floor or attic space.
Other measures include building a floodwall around basement windows to protect the basement from low-level flooding and anchoring fuel tanks to prevent them from floating and over-turning.
Before any alterations or repairs are made, contact MSD to obtain a floodplain permits
February 28, 2012