If you live in a flood-prone area the best place to start is to get an elevation certificate. Due to new federal requirements, you may have already been notified that you are required to do so. Property owners required to have flood insurance are now required to obtain an elevation certificate. Elevation certificates determine where your house and other structures are in relation to the base flood elevation or special flood hazard areas.
Seeing all the features on the property in relation to elevation will help you best prepare. You may find that only a portion of your property has a level of risk that requires mitigation measures. Many houses in James City County are on septic systems, making them susceptible to backflow problems during a flooding event. James City County has also made available a database of elevation certificates that were submitted for County review. If you have reason to believe that a previous property owner had an elevation certificate completed and submitted it for review, please check the database. A database is coming soon!
Flood Mitigation Techniques
Once you have identified areas of concern you may want to consider a range of techniques to mitigate flooding impacts. Here is a list of some helpful techniques:
- Backflow valves - installing a backflow valve will prevent sewage from backing up into the house during a flooding event.
- Barricades - look for water entry points into the house, doorways, drains, cracks in the foundation, and windows; consider placing a barricade to restrict water access at possible points of entry.
- Filling - crawl spaces or basements can be filled with sand or dirt.
- Flood vents or break-away walls - if your house is on a crawl space, installing flood vents or break-away walls would help reduce the pressure on exterior walls by allowing water to freely flow in and out of the crawl space.
- Lifting structures - if it is too costly or just impracticable to lift the entire house consider lifting the HVAC unit, ductwork, plumbing and/or electric meter.
- Ensure ditches, storm drain inlets and stream channels are free of debris to allow the free flow of water.
During Flood Conditions
If flood conditions should occur in your area, take the following steps:
- Heed flood warnings. Listen to the radio or television for information.
- Do not walk through flowing water. Be especially cautious at night during flood events.
- Do not drive through a flooded area; turn around - don't drown. If your vehicle stalls in high water, abandon it immediately and seek higher ground.
- Know how to shut off your utilities (electricity, gas, etc.) and turn them off in the event you experience flooding. Stay away from power lines and gas leaks. Electrical current can travel through water and lead to electrocution.
- Learn about the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development 203(k) Loans and Flood Mitigation Rehabilitation (PDF).
- For a helpful video on flood-proofing your home, please visit the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes, and select the "flood" tab to the right.