Flood Proofing and Insurance
How can you flood proof your home?
There are several different ways to protect buildings from flood damage. One way is to keep the water away by regrading your lot or building a small floodwall or earthen berm. These methods work if your lot is fairly small, if flooding is not too deep, and if your property is not in the floodway.
Another approach is to make your walls waterproof and place watertight closures over the doorways. This method is not recommended for homes with basements, or if water will get over two feet deep.
A third approach is to raise the house above the flood levels. After elevating the structure the floodwaters go under the house without causing any damage to it.
Many houses, even those not in the floodplain, have sewers that back up into the basement during heavy rains. A backflow preventer can stop this if the water does not get more than one or two feet deep. For instances of deeper flooding, talk to a plumber about overhead sewers or a backup valve.
These measures are called floodproofing or retrofitting. More information is available at the Leon County Public Library. Important note: Any alteration to your building or land requires a permit from the Growth Management Department. Even regrading or filling in the floodplain requires a permit.
If you know a flood is coming that will threaten your property, you should shut off the gas and electricity and move valuable contents to a safe place. It is unlikely that you will get much warning, so a detailed checklist prepared in advance will help ensure that you do not forget anything.
- Raise your furnace, water heater, and electric panel if they are in areas of your home that may be flooded.
- Consult with a professional for further information on other damage reduction measures that can be taken.
If you do not have flood insurance, talk to your insurance agent. Homeowner's insurance policies do not cover damage from floods. However, because Tallahassee participates in the National Flood Insurance Program, you can purchase a separate flood insurance policy. This insurance is backed by the Federal government and is available to everyone, even for properties that have not been flooded.
Some people have purchased flood insurance because it was required by banks when they obtained a mortgage or home improvement loan. Usually these policies just cover the building's structure and not the contents. During the kind of flooding that occurs in Tallahassee, there is usually more damage to the furniture and contents than there is to the structure. If you are covered, check out the amount and extent of coverage and make sure you have coverage for the contents. Remember: Even if the last flood missed you or you have done some floodproofing, the next flood could be worse. Flood insurance covers all surface floods.