Fighting the Floods: Tips for Minimizing the Effects of Large Storm Events on Your Community
Lack of Preparation Contributes to Effects
When municipalities are unprepared, large storm events often overwhelm them with the need to clean up debris, conduct inspections, perform repairs, respond to questions, and verify substantial damage determination regulation requirements are met. Nothing can immunize a community from flooding, but implementing key practices before, during and after large storm events can minimize effects on your community and help prevent severe damage and repeat flooding. (Brief checklists for practices before, during and after a large storm event are shown above).
Before: Practice Prevention
Prevention is the best plan of action when it comes to flood mitigation. A municipal drainage ordinance can be key in proactive flood prevention. The ordinance should provide specific requirements and permits for floodplain delineation, including penalties that allow a municipality to enforce floodplain development requirements.
A Hazard Mitigation Action Plan (HMAP) also is significant in preventing floods and other hazards. Completion of an HMAP is also required for certain grant programs and after disaster assistance.
Developing a database of all properties and recording whether they are in the floodplain or floodway, have any previous flooding, etc. is also useful. Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology can be important in mapping flood-prone areas and storing this type of database information.
During: Protect the Public
During an event, protecting the public is your most important task; however, most storms in North Central Texas have quick peaks, which makes it difficult to perform any preventative mitigation during a storm. For coastal areas, it is possible that some preventative measures could be taken during the storm event, such as crews placing sand bags at susceptible areas. No matter what region your community is located in, keep public works crews ready to close off roads that have a history of overtopping and keep communication open by having a call-in system where residents can report flooding.
After: Assess the Damage
When flooding does occur and after the storm has receded, site visits to all areas of reported and possible flooding should be performed. Be prepared to collect information by developing a one-page damage assessment form to fill out during site visits, which may last several days. These forms should document high water marks, estimated costs of damage to a homeowner’s structure and belongings, insurance information, the occupant’s name and phone number, and whether or not 40 percent of the structure appears to be damaged. Observe discarded items on curbs (such as carpet, drywall, etc.) for a good indication of a structure’s damage. Input the collected data into your database and update property and home values from CAD district. Notify homeowners that have substantial damage greater than 50 percent of the improvement value.
It is crucial to maintain open communication with substantially damaged homeowners (public forums can be beneficial) and explain their options for future flood prevention. Depending on a municipality’s drainage ordinance, these options typically include elevating the lowest floor of a structure or challenging a substantial damage claim.
If applicable, consider requesting disaster area declaration and look into possible grant funding, such as the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, for assistance in purchasing properties with repeat flooding.