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Floods can happen anywhere at any time, which is why it is important to be prepared and to take steps before a flood event to protect your property from costly damage. Taking action to reduce the impact of a disaster is known as mitigation. There are a variety of flood mitigation options for homeowners--both for newly built homes as well as existing homes located in floodprone areas.
Before applying any of the mitigation measures described below,
- Always check with the Community Development Department at (434) 455-3900 or visit the Customer Service Center on the second floor of City Hall, 900 Church Street, Lynchburg, VA 24504, before you build on or alter property in the floodplain;
- Consult a registered design professional (architect or engineer) to determine which options may be best for your home;
- Contact your insurance agent to find out how your flood insurance premium may be affected;
- Learn about what financial assistance might be available to help pay for the measures.
Visit Reducing Flood Risk to Residential Buildings That Cannot Be Elevated and Homeowner's Guide to Retrofitting for more complete information about all of these methods.
Structural Elevation and/or Relocation
Structural elevation and structural relocation are well-recognized measures for reducing flood risk and often the most effective measures to reduce both flood damage and insurance premiums. Buildings that are situated at or above the level of the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) have lower flood risk than buildings below BFE and tend to have lower insurance premiums than buildins situated below the BFE. Oftentimes, however, elevation or relocation may not be an option if your home has certain structural characteristics. These characteristics may include: attached dwelling units; connected row houses; townhomes, or brownstones; mid-rise multi-family buildings; older dwellings; and homes with construction types and/or building materials that are not suitable for elevation/relocation.
These measures involve filling a basement located below the BFE to grade (ground level). Sections of the basement walls that remain above ground must be retrofitted with flood openings that allow automatic entry and/or exit of floodwaters. Any basement utility systems and associated equipment must be elevated to protect utilities from damage or loss of function from flooding.
Abandon Lowest Floor
This measure involves abandoning the lowest floor of a two or more story slab-on-grade residential building. The lowest floor walls must be retrofitted with flood openings that allow automatic entry and exit of floodwaters. Additionally, any utility systems and associated equipment on the lowest floor must be elevated to protect utilities from damage or loss of function from flooding.
Elevate Lowest Interior Floor
This measure involves elevating the lowest interior floor within a residential building with high ceilings. The space below the lowest elevated interior floor walls must be either filled to create a stem wall or retrofitted with flood openings that allow automatic entry and/or exit of floodwaters. Additionally, any utility systems and associated equipment located below the lowest interior floor must be elevated to protect utilities from damage or loss of function from flooding.
This measure involves installing openings in foundation and enclosure walls located below the BFE that allow automatic entry and exit of floodwaters to prevent collapse from the pressures of standing water.
Elevate Building Utilities
This measure involves elevating all building utility systems and associated equipment (e.g., furnaces, septic tanks, and electric and gas meters) to protect utilities from damage or loss of function from flooding. Homeowners may elevate building utility systems using a variety of techniques, including using elevated pedestals or platforms for outdoor equipment, moving equipment to higher floors or attic spaces, and building an elevated utility room.
Floodproof Building Utilities
This measure involves floodproofing all building utility systems and associated equipment to protect it from damage or loss of function from flooding. Homeowners may floodproof building utility systems using a variety of techniques, including placing outdoor equipment behind floodwalls or placing indoor equipment behind a wall or watertight, passive utility enclosure.
Flood Damage-Resistant Materials
This measure involves the use of flood damage-resistant materials such as non-paper-faced gypsum board and terrazzo tile flooring for building materials and furnishings located below the BFE to reduce structural and nonstructural damage and post-flood event cleanup.
Passive Dry Floodproofing System
This measure involves installing a passive (works automatically without human assistance) dry floodproofing system around a home to protect the building from flood damage. The coating or covering must be impervious to floodwater and certified and constructed to a maximum of 3 feet above grade (ground level).
Floodwall with Gates and Floodwall without Gates
These two measures involve installing a reinforced concrete floodwall, which works automatically without human assistance, constructed to a maximum of 4 feet above grade (ground level). The only difference between the two options is related to openings in the floodwall for entry and exit. The floodwall with gates is built with passive flood gates that are designed to open or close automatically due to the hydrostatic pressure caused by the floodwater. The floodwall without gates is built using vehicle ramps or pedestrian stairs to avoid the need for passive flood gates. Note that sump pumps or an internal storage system along with a back-up emergency power supply are required to collect and remove floodwater that collects behind floodwalls during a flood event.
Levee with Gates and Levee without Gates
These two measures involve installing an earthen levee around a home, which works automatically without human assistance, with a clay or concrete core constructed to a maximum of 6 feet above grade (ground level). The only difference between the two options is related to openings in the levee to enter and exit the property. The levee with gates is built with passive flood gates that are designed to open or close automatically due to hydrostatic pressure caused by the floodwater. The levee without gates is built using vehicle access ramps to avoid the need for passive flood gates. Note that sump pumps or internal storage systems are required to collect and remove rainwater that collects behind levees during a flood event.
Relocating Storage Sheds and Other Accessory Structures Located in Floodplain
This measure involves the relocation of accessory structures such as storage sheds, garden sheds, temporary structures, gazebos, etc. to areas outside of the floodplain. In addition to the risk involved with having these structures in the floodplain, there is also the risk of contaminants stored within these structures (gasoline, propane, paints, solvents, other hazardous materials) entering flood waters in the event of a flood. This can also create a safety hazard for downstream residents and first responders.