Floodplains What Are They and How to Protect Your Property
A floodplain is an area of land adjacent to a stream or river which stretches from the banks of its channel to the base of the enclosing valley walls, and which experiences flooding during periods of high discharge. The soils usually consist of levees, silts and sands deposited during floods.
Historically, many towns have been built on floodplains where they are highly susceptible to flooding for a number of reasons
- access to fresh water
- the fertility of floodplain land for farming
- cheap transportation, via rivers and railroads which often followed rivers
- ease of development of flat land
The extent of floodplain inundation depends in part on the flood magnitude. What should you do to reduce the potential amount of damage to your home if you live in a floodplain?
- Elevate and reinforce your home to make damage less likely during a flood.
- Check with a professional to:
- Raise your furnace, water heater, and electric panel to floors that are less likely to be flooded. An undamaged water heater may be your best source of fresh water after a flood.
- Install check valves in plumbing to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home. (As a last resort, when floods threaten, use large corks or stoppers to plug showers, tubs, or basins.)
- Construct barriers such as levees, berms, and flood walls to stop floodwater from entering the building (if permitted by local building codes).
- Seal walls in basements with waterproofing compounds to avoid seepage through cracks.
- Use sand bags when flooding is expected:
- It takes two people about one hour to fill and place 100 sandbags, creating a wall one foot high and 20 feet long.
- Make sure you have enough sand, burlap or plastic bags, shovels, strong helpers, and time to place them properly.
- If a flood is expected, some communities will offer free sandbags to residents. Be sure to watch or listen to the news so you can access these resources.
Remember: standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding but flood insurance does. Get information at www.FloodSmart.gov.