FEMA and Your Flood Damaged Home

FEMA and Your Flood Damaged Home
  • Opening Intro -

    If you live in a flood zone, the Federal Emergency Management Agency or FEMA will have a lot to say about your being able to rebuild your home following a catastrophic flood.

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What you must do if you live in a flood zone.

FEMA develops Flood Insurance Rate Maps and if your home falls within that map and has been damaged to at least 50 percent or more of its air market value before it is rebuilt, then you must follow certain flood-zone rules before rebuilding.

Substantial Improvement

Those rules are outlined under FEMA’s Substantial Improvement policy index and covers those homes that have incurred substantial damage. Specifically, homeowners would need to seek permit approval whereby the local building department ensures that measures are taken to prevent or not exacerbate flood-related erosion. If additional safeguards are not followed, then the building plans must be relocated.

Affected homes must have proper anchoring, to ensure that the home won’t give way to flooding forces that could cause it to collapse. Among the techniques used here are pilings also known as piers or stilts, that are common along both the east and gulf coasts. For example, a home with 14-foot pilings is typically engineered to withstand hurricane force winds and storm surges. On the west coast, such homes may employ pilings on sloping terrain as mudslides and seismic action must be taken under consideration.

Building Materials

FEMA offers details on what homeowners must do to ensure that their homes are in compliance when rebuilding. Certain materials must be certified as flood-resistant which means that they have to hold up for at least 72 hours under storm conditions without contributing to significant damage.

Significant damage goes well beyond damage to the facade — it includes what goes on in the house such as damage to the floors, walls and other areas of the home exposed to a flood. Any building contractor experienced with rebuilding homes in flood-damaged areas knows what materials are required. Still, check references and if you have any questions, your community’s building department is there to help out.

Flood Zones

If your home hasn’t been damaged and you’re not sure that it lies within a flood zone, FEMA provides a Map Service Center where you can uncover that information. You can also get rate estimates on flood insurance by visiting FEMA’s Flood Smart website and see how the government rates your home for risk. While there, you’ll be given a list of local agents that can help you out.

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Categories: Home Interior

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Auto Trends Magazine", an online publication. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and weblogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".