Across the United States, rising waters are impacting homeowners at greater rates each year. This year, more than 20,000 communities are within a FEMA-designated flood zone. That means these homeowners are at an increased risk from flooding due to natural events like extensive rain or high rates of snowmelt in the spring, or from more catastrophic weather events such as hurricanes and major storms.
According to NOAA, sea levels have risen globally 8-9 inches since 1880 and are rising at a higher rate each year. Much of this increase is from glacial ice melt as seawater temperatures rise. For U.S. homeowners, the impacts are real and can be very costly to repair. If your home is situated near the coast or in an area experiencing major weather events like hurricanes and flooding, or if you live within a flood zone, there are concrete steps you can take today to help prepare for a flood and minimize the damage it can cause. In addition, all families should prepare an emergency kit and evacuation plan in advance.
Rising Waters Impact Homeowners from Coast to Coast
According to a new research report from Climate Central, 14.6 million U.S. properties are now at risk from a 100-year flood event. In the U.S., 40% of residents live in dense areas like cities and suburban areas that are close to the sea and affected by coastal flooding. The increased flooding risk in the U.S. is due in part to changing weather conditions and the resulting flood conditions, which are occurring 300-900% more often than the average flooding just 50 years ago. In addition, high-tide flooding is also happening 300-900% more frequently.
In the U.S., residents of the following cities were highlighted by the Climate Central study as having the greatest flood risk:
- Chicago, IL
- Cape Coral, FL
- Chattanooga, TN
- Port Charlotte, FL
- Miami, FL
- Pensacola, FL
- St. Petersburg, FL
- Fort Myers, FL
- Naples, FL
- Key West, FL
- Jacksonville, FL
- New Orleans, LA
- Corpus Christi, TX
- Houston, TX
- Galveston, TX
Protecting Homeowners from Rising Waters
City planners across the country are preparing for an increased flood risk due to rising sea and river waters. Some of the most forward-thinking cities with respect to flood management include Miami, FL, New Orleans, LA, and Boston, MA.
In Florida, conservationists and city governments are working together to save the Everglades from rising sea levels and protect the densely populated state’s residents from flood risk and hurricane damage. In New Orleans, after Hurricane Katrina wreaked havoc on the area, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers designed and installed a system of levees and floodwalls to protect residents from future storm surges. In Boston, long-term city planning efforts include redesigning areas of the city to protect current environmental habitats while installing flood barriers.
Protecting Your Home Against Floods
While city governments work to protect homes and businesses against an increasing flood risk nationwide, homeowners must also prepare. That starts with researching the cost and availability of flood insurance in your area – and purchasing it before a disaster strikes, if possible.
According to FEMA, to reduce flood damages, homeowners should also:
- Floodproof HVAC and electrical systems, including moving electrical boxes above the flood line
- Install hurricane shutters
- Reinforce roofs and garage doors to withstand high winds
- Add flood-resistant carpeting and other interior materials
One of the costliest effects of a flood is its impact on the home’s foundation. To protect your home’s foundation from a flood, elevate the home above the base flood protections for the area with the help of a foundation professional. For information on what to do after a flood, check out this article.
Additional basement or crawl space flood protections you can install in advance include:
- Basement or crawl space waterproofing with interior drainage
- Sump pump installation
- Crawl space encapsulation
- Wall flood vent addition
- Sewer backflow valve installation
Creating an Emergency Preparedness Plan
Another important preparation that all families should make before an emergency occurs is to create and practice your own emergency preparedness plan. This includes:
- Reviewing, updating, and saving insurance policies and other important paperwork in an air and water-tight container above ground (and take it with you when evacuating)
- Creating an evacuation checklist, including turning off power, gas, and water when you leave the home – and ensuring car gas tanks are full
- Pack an emergency kit, including food, water, pet food, first aid kit, and battery-operated flashlight and radio in advance
To learn more about flood mitigation efforts for your own home, contact your local Groundworks basement waterproofing professionals for a free inspection and estimate on trusted solutions.