Adaptation at the local, state, and federal levels is often more effective and cost-efficient than individual efforts, but each plays an important role in reducing physical and financial flood risks.
Solutions to protect your home vary in terms of cost, effort, time to implement, and effectiveness. Individuals can also ask local officials to find solutions and support measures that reduce risk and lower flood insurance costs.
Structural options can help flood-proof a home to mitigate physical damage, or make a property more absorbent to reduce runoff and prevent flooding.
Heavy rain flooding
When rain accumulates too quickly for the ground to soak it up or over-saturates the ground, it will begin to aggregate in lower elevation areas. This can lead to flooding in basements or ponding in areas around your home.
Capture precipitation on your property by installing rain barrels and increase previous (absorbent) surfaces by building rain gardens and french ditches. Move home heating and cooling equipment to higher floors to prevent flood water exposure.
Single area flooding
If the same area of your basement, entryway or around windows continues to get water when it rains, it could mean you need to do some additional waterproofing in this area.
Install a water removal system (sump pump) in any area that water collects to be moved (pumped) off of your property. Additional waterproofing around windows or french drains and gutter extensions may also help in moving the water to another area and keeping it out of your home.
Continual minor flooding
Regular minor flooding from high tides or continually overflowing bodies of water can cause structural damage to a home.
Retrofitting a home by elevating it above the height of most flood levels requires a large financial investment but can lead to a significant reduction in flood insurance premiums.
Continual major flooding
If your home has been severely impacted by a major storm on multiple occasions, the risk in this area may be unavoidable.
Relocating your home out of a flood hazard area greatly diminishes your flood risk but it is costly and requires careful consideration of your home’s structural condition and of your relocation site.
Flood insurance reduces financial risk and allows you to recover more quickly and completely after a flood. Homeowners, renters, and businesses can reduce the financial impact of flood damage by purchasing flood insurance from the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and private insurers.
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Extreme flood events don’t need to be disasters. As a commercial business owner, understanding your flood risk is critical to success. Now that you’ve begun this resilience journey to explore the natural hazards that impact your property or your portfolio of buildings, it’s time to think about what strategies you can implement to mitigate your risk.
Identify vulnerabilities in your buildings and make changes to harden these components. For mitigating flood risk, strategies include wet- or dry-flood proofing the building envelope and interior areas that could be exposed to flood water, elevating critical equipment, and making sure important contents or inventory are out of harm’s way.
During major flood events, disruptions to critical lifelines can last from several hours to multiple days. Direct damage to equipment on site, like an exterior transformer or storage tank, can also disrupt power or water. If your operations depend on continuous power, water, or gas supply, do you have back-up systems in place to see you through utility disruptions? Redundancy in critical systems can help minimize downtime, especially during utility outages.
Developing a flood recovery plan can help you take immediate action and reduce the impact of flood events on your business. Back-up your data using a cloud-based service, store a redundant supply of critical inventory off-site, and gameplan “what-if” scenarios that outline what actions you might take if they were to happen (example: what if flood waters made it impossible to reach my building?). Damage to buildings can take weeks to months to repair, but many delays may impede your ability to start these repairs, like securing funding or hiring contractors. These impending delays can more than double your total downtime, but you can reduce this downtime through preparation: set aside emergency funds so that work can start while you wait for insurance payouts and pre-identify and possibly retain contractors that could do the repair work. Save yourself time later by preparing now.
Take action to propel your resilience strategy and reduce your flood risk with confidence.
For portfolios large and small, it can be daunting to navigate next steps, including which mitigation options work best and how to prioritize upgrades across your portfolio to make the most of your limited budget.
The resilience consultants and engineers at Arup can advise your organization and customize your path forward to make your business more resilient in the face of natural hazards.
Effective flood risk management is collaborative, future-facing, and considers local needs. Resilient communities prioritize and invest in natural resources, engineered solutions, and insurance to withstand and recover from floods.
Grey infrastructure uses concrete or steel structures to control flooding. These engineered structures are costly, take time to build, and require regular maintenance.
Regular minor flooding from high tides or continually overflowing bodies of water can cause structural damage to homes and infrastructure. These solutions can help move water or vulnerable structures out of harm’s way.
1. Stormwater pumps
With higher seas, water doesn’t drain out as easily. Pumps can speed up the process of getting water off the streets by vacuuming up the flood water and releasing it back into the sea.
2. Upgrade roads and bridges
Raising roads and switching to more pervious pavements can help drain water, limit runoff, and reduce flooding. Raised roads are often used in tandem with stormwater pumps to prevent water being diverted to homes and stores at lower elevations.
When rain accumulates too quickly for the ground to soak it up or over-saturates the ground, it will begin to aggregate in lower elevation areas. Building the right infrastructure to remove and absorb rainwater can help protect homes and businesses.
1. Improved stormwater drainage systems
Investing in upgrades to aging and overloaded stormwater systems can allow water to be moved, stored, and drained more efficiently.
Rising seas and more severe storms can worsen coastal and riverine flooding. These solutions help protect vulnerable areas from extreme flooding.
1. Flood control measures
Flood control infrastructure, such as levees, dams, seawalls, and tide gates, work as physical barriers to prevent rising or running water from causing flooding. Other measures, such as pump stations and channels, help reduce flooding.
2. Levees, Dams, Dikes, and Weirs
These barriers, often built along rivers, help regulate water levels or flows and prevent flooding. Regular upkeep and inspections may be necessary for certain certifications.
3. Tide and Flood Gates
Tide and flood gates provide an opening for water to move freely in one direction, but can close automatically or manually to prevent water from flowing in the other direction, which helps control flooding.
4. Seawalls and Floodwalls
Seawalls and flood walls are vertical barriers built along bodies of water to prevent flooding. To remain effective, they require regular upkeep and repairs.
Green infrastructure is a cost-effective and sustainable flood management approach that gathers and removes water at its source.
High volume rainfall can overwhelm drainage systems and cause bodies of water to rise suddenly, flooding homes and infrastructure. Having spaces where water can drain and collect helps alleviate these floods.
1. Open spaces
By providing space for managed flooding, communities can reduce the flood risks for homes and businesses. These spaces can include cemeteries, golf courses, and parks.
2. Marshes and Wetlands
Restoring or constructing new marsh or wetlands provides areas for water to be stored, therefore reducing flooding.
3. Rain Gardens and Bioswales
Rain gardens reduce flash flooding by collecting rainwater and allowing time for the water to be absorbed or carried away. Bioswales are larger but functionally similar, and usually a part of a larger stormwater drainage system.
Rising seas and more severe storms can worsen coastal flooding. These solutions help protect vulnerable areas from extreme flooding.
1. Natural Barriers
Restoring and building up natural infrastructure such as barrier islands, oyster and coral reefs, mangroves, seagrass, and salt marshes is a cost-effective and eco-friendly way to reduce flood risks.
2. Beach Dunes and Renourishment
Beaches and dunes work as natural walls to reduce the impact of storm surges. Adding sand to make beaches bigger helps limit coastal erosion and protect communities from flooding.
According to the National Institute of Building Sciences, every $1 spent on flood risk reduction saves $7 on future disaster losses. Smart planning saves lives and can minimize the impact and cost of flooding.
A changing environment means higher seas new weather patterns, and stronger storms.