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City Views presents commentary from staff on the latest projects, initiatives, and successes.

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Sep 14

How to Protect Yourself and Property from Flooding

Posted on September 14, 2016 at 12:04 PM by Susan Finarelli

By Matthew Hansen, P.E.

If your property is located in the Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) or prone to flooding it is important to be aware of the potential danger and to prepare for it. To verify if your property is in the SFHA you may view the Flood Insurance Rate Map (FIRM). You may also view the FIRM by visiting the Department of Public Works at City Hall (Suite 100 West).

Why do I need flood insurance?
  • Homeowners insurance does not cover flooding.
  • If you live in a high-risk area like SFHA there is a greater than one in four chance that you will experience a flood during the 30 years of owning your home.
  • Your mortgage holder, if any, may require you to buy flood insurance.

As suggested by FEMA, to prepare for a flood, you should:
  • Elevate the furnace, water heater, at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation. City Code requires new electric service panels to be at least 36 inches above flood levels.
  • Store critical documents like your insurance policy and inventory of household valuables in a safe deposit box or waterproof container.
  • Seal the walls in your basement with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage.

In an event that a flood is likely in the area, you should:
  • Listen to the radio or television for emergency information.
  • Be aware that flash flooding can occur. If there is any possibility of a flash flood, move immediately to higher ground. Do not wait for instructions to move.
  • Be aware of streams, drainage channels, and other areas known to flood suddenly. Flash floods can occur in these areas with or without such typical warning as rain clouds or heavy rain.

Before you build in a floodplain, get a permit!
  • Elevate floors to 1’ higher than base flood elevation.
  • Use flood-resistant materials like concrete. Avoid easily water-damaged materials like drywall.
  • Add flood vents to allow free flow of water. High water can collapse a foundation.

Only rain down the storm drain.
  • Keeping our storm drains clear of debris will not only help with flooding problems, but will help protect wildlife.
  • Conservation landscaping along with rain barrels can help slow down and soak up rain water.

If you have any questions please visit www.fallschurchva.gov/Floodplain or contact us at dpw@fallschurchva.gov.