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Avoiding Flood Damage

Are you looking for ways to protect your home from flooding? There are many things you can do, depending on the flood hazard in your neighborhood and the characteristics of your property. Some methods are fairly simple and inexpensive, while others will require a professional contractor. Some homeowners may also be eligible for the Flood Protection Incentive Program.

This homeowners checklist will help you become familiar with what you can do.

Do you know your flood risk?
If not, contact the Floodplain Management Division of the City of Fargo Engineering Department at (701) 241-1545. Ask what the projected flood elevation for your neighborhood is and where it lies within that elevation. This information will help you determine how much water is likely to affect you.

Do you have enough flood insurance?
Even if you have taken steps to protect your home from flooding, you still need flood insurance if you live in a floodplain.  Homeowners' policies do not cover flood damage, so you will probably need to purchase a separate policy under the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). It takes 30 days for a flood policy to take effect. Contact your insurance agent for more information.

Is the main electric switchbox located above potential flood water?
The main electric panel board should be at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation for your home. The panel board height is regulated by code.

Are electric outlets and switches located above potential flood waters?
Consider elevating all electric outlets, switches, light sockets, baseboard heaters and wiring at least 12  inches above the projected flood elevation for your home. You may also want to elevate electric service lines (at the point they enter your home) at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation. In areas that could get wet, connect all receptacles to a ground fault interrupter (GFI) circuit to avoid the risk of shock or electrocution.

Are the washer and dryer above potential flood waters?
For protection against shallow flood waters, the washer and dryer can sometimes be elevated on masonry or pressure-treated lumber at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation. Other options are moving the washer and dryer to a higher floor, or building a floodwall around the appliances.

Are the furnace and water heater above potential flood waters?
The furnace and water heater can be placed on masonry blocks or concrete at least 12 inches above the projected flood elevation, moved to inside a floodwall or moved to a higher floor. Furnaces that operate horizontally can be suspended from ceiling joists if the joists are strong enough to hold the weight. Outside air conditioning compressors, heat pumps or package units can be placed on a base of masonry, concrete or elevated in some other way that is allowed by the building codes.

Is the fuel tank anchored securely?
A fuel tank can tip over or float in a flood, causing fuel to spill or catch fire. Cleaning up a house that has been inundated with flood waters containing fuel oil can be extremely difficult and costly. Fuel tanks should be securely anchored to the floor. Make sure vents and fill line openings are above projected flood levels. If you have propane tanks that are the property of the propane company, you'll need written permission to anchor them, or you can ask whether the company can do it for you.

Does the floor drain have a float plug?
Installing a floating floor drain plug at the current drain location will prevent any future backup. When the floor drain pipe backs up, the float will rise and plug the drain.

Does the sewer system have a backflow valve?
If flood water enters the sewer system, sewage can back up and enter your home. To prevent this, have a licensed plumber install an interior or exterior backflow valve.

You may have other options for avoiding flood damage depending on your needs and financial resources. These include building drainage systems around the property, building levees, constructing exterior floodwalls around basement doors and window wells and improving exterior walls.