As spring nears, officials offer flood mitigation adviceWith the spring thaw around the corner now might be a good time to look at flood mitigation if your basement has been wet before, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials say.
By: By Ben Rodgers, The Jamestown Sun, The Jamestown Sun
With the spring thaw around the corner now might be a good time to look at flood mitigation if your basement has been wet before, Federal Emergency Management Agency officials say.
Early March is still a bit too far out to know exactly how the spring flooding picture might come into focus but it’s best to be prepared, they said.
“Use 2009 as a benchmark,” said Jerry Bergquist, Stutsman County emergency manager. “We broke all the records for dam elevations and the amount released, and we had overland flooding and snowmelt at the same time.”
FEMA offers some steps toward a permanent solution to limiting damage to the basement during spring floods.
All of these steps require some consulting because they can be costly and if done wrong they can prove dangerous, said Nancy Steinberger, Region VII hydraulic engineer and North Dakota Risk MAP specialist.
Sump pumps are used to move water from the inside of a home to the outside. They can be useful tools but never run a gasoline-powered pump inside the home, Steinberger said.
Checking to make sure you have a powerful enough pump is also recommended, which she said can be done at a hardware store.
“You want to make sure you have enough pumps or capacity to handle whatever flows in,” Steinberger said.
Water should also never flow in the sanitary sewer or on your side of a sandbag wall, Conley said.
Aside from having the right pump and using it correctly when more water starts flowing, making sure appliances are high and dry is also important.
“You see a lot of damage by utilities that sit on the basement floor,” said Ed Conley, public information officer with FEMA Region VIII.
Heating, cooling and electrical systems and heating plants can be elevated. Officials recommend moving the utilities at least 12 inches above the 100-year flood level.
Although costly and something Steinberger has never seen, the heating system can be suspended on the ceiling of the basement.
The local building office needs to be contacted for the requirements and codes for any projects of this nature.
“Do we need to do anything?” asked Bergquist. “We don’t know the answers to that right now.”
If flooding gets to 2009 levels and the city sewer system is stressed, Bergquist said certain steps can be taken to prevent sewage from entering the home.
A backflow valve opens when sewage exits the home and closes when the flow reverses. A floor drain plug is the easiest way to stop sewer backup because the sanitary system’s lowest point in the house is the floor drain.
Both also require checking with local building officers for requirements and codes.
“The big thing for people to do this spring is to listen and see what kind of information local flood experts are giving out,” Conley said.
The U.S. Army Corps and Engineers has an estimate for what types of flows from the dams the area could see but the outlook on overland flooding is unknown, Bergquist said.
1997 saw the largest releases with 3,200 cubic feet per second. In 2010 Jamestown dams never released more than 1,800 cfs.
“We’ve been told by the Corps of Engineers to prepare for releases of 1,200 (cfs),” he said. “... and there’s a possibility we might be more around 1,800 (cfs), but they (corps officials) are focusing more around 1,200 (cfs).”
Sun reporter Ben Rodgers can be reached at 701-952-8455 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org