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One of the most destructive aspects of storms like Hurricane Florence is the catastrophic flooding caused by storm surge and prolonged heavy rainfall. Water damages or destroys many homes and businesses thought to be out of harm’s way.
When flooding strikes, building owners need to know that their property and assets will be protected. Flood doors, flood panels and other flood barrier solutions can provide some peace of mind in a flood event. But how can one know with any degree of certainty that those measures will work?
Several years ago, at a conference sponsored by the Association of State Flood Plain Managers and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, attendees called for a national program to test flood barriers that would standardize quality and differentiate products that worked from those that did not.
Meanwhile, FM Global, one of the world’s largest business and property insurers, was also taking steps to address the problem at its insured facilities worldwide. In 2006, its subsidiary FM Approvals created a standard for testing and certifying flood loss prevention products. FM Approvals Standard 2510 was adopted by the American National Standards Institute. It is the only U.S. national standard for flood barrier products.
In 2012, ASFPM partnered with USACE and FM Approvals to develop the National Flood Barrier Testing & Certification Program based on the ANSI/FM Approvals Standard 2510. It “assures manufacturers and consumers that a product, which has been objectively tested, conforms to national standards.” The program awards national recognition and FM Approval certification for products that meet requirements.
Flood barrier certification requires a battery of tests, audits of the manufacturing facility and supporting operational guidelines. This process ensures certified flood solutions will stand up to waves, hydrostatic forces and impact from floating debris. FEMA and the National Flood Insurance Program have adopted the requirements for floodproofing nonresidential structures.
The testing and certification program is a five-step process that includes 1) Application, 2) Proposal Issue and Manufacturer Authorization, 3) Testing and First Audit, 4) Report and Certification, and 5) Follow-up Audits.
The program evaluates temporary perimeter barriers, set just before a flood event, and opening barriers including doors, windows and vents. It includes component testing, performance (water) testing and manufacturing facility auditing. According to an FM Approvals representative, each step is important because “a product is only as good as its weakest link.”
The USACE conducts water testing to “examine the ability of a product to withstand flood related exposure, such as hydrodynamic, overtopping, velocity and debris.” FM Approvals manages materials testing to “examine the ability of a product to withstand the forces of nature that impinge upon the product when deployed.”
The USACE evaluates temporary perimeter barriers at its facility in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Tests on closure barriers can be conducted in Vicksburg, at a manufacturing facility or at an independent laboratory approved by FM Approvals. The Flood Lab at Flood Panel LLC headquarters in Jupiter, Florida is an example of an approved manufacturer facility.
Manufacturers are also required to develop a “Design, Installation, Operation and Maintenance Manual” that outlines repair and replace instructions for the product. Additionally, the manufacturer must create a post installation checklist to be completed by the installer and kept on file at the manufacturer facility.
FM Approvals visits the manufacturing facility to confirm that quality guidelines are set to ensure consistent production of the product. During these audits, FM Approvals also verifies that completed installation checklists are on file.
Finally, FM Approvals conducts periodic follow-up audits at the manufacturing facility to ensure that nothing has changed with the certified product.
The flood barrier certification and testing program outlines three levels:
Tom Osborne, president of Flood Panel LLC, compares the certification program to other standards, such as UL Listings or Fire-Safety Ratings, which assure consumers that building products meet standards set by the industry.
Building owners want assurance that their flood prevention safeguards will keep water out when flooding occurs. The National Flood Barrier Certification & Testing Program delivers third-party, objective testing of important flood protection solutions to answer the most important question, “Will it work?”
Visit www.nationalfloodbarrier.org for more information and a webinar about the National Flood Barrier Testing & Certification Program.
9/10/18 – The National Hurricane Center has issued a special statement regarding Hurricane Florence, now a Category 4 hurricane in the Atlantic taking aim at the U.S. East Coast and expected to make landfall on Thursday or Friday this week. Read the 11 am advisory.
Key messages from the Center:
• Life-threatening storm surge is likely along the coastlines of South and North Carolina and Virginia
• Life-threatening fresh water flooding is likely from a long and exceptionally heavy rainfall event, which may extend inland over the Carolinas and the Mid-Atlantic
• Damaging hurricane force winds are likely along portions of the coasts of South Carolina and North Carolina, which could spread inland
• Large swells affecting Bermuda and the U.S. East Coast will continue this week, resulting in life-threatening surf and rip currents.
We advise all Flood Panel LLC customers on the U.S. East Coast, especially along the Carolina and Virginia coastlines, to prepare for a major hurricane. Install your Flood Panel solutions and put your Flood Emergency Operational Plans into action now.
For the latest information on Hurricane Florence, check with The National Hurricane Center.
Read the Flood Panel blog post for more information about planning for flood emergencies.
Many homeowners are complacent, even during major downpours, because they are enjoying a false sense of security. Incredibly, most homeowners think that they are fully covered for any kind of damage to their homes because they carry some type of property insurance. Sadly, this is not the case, and all too many owners find out the hard way that flood damage is not covered by most policies. In order to be covered for flooding, a specific flood insurance policy must be purchased.
Another common mistake is to assume that living in an area with low flood risk negates the need for flood insurance. All it takes is one faulty water heater, a pipe bursting in the cold of winter, gutters that empty straight down the side of the foundation, a toilet or bath overflowing … and a flood is born. Flooding can happen for so many reasons — even a large aquarium can cause expensive flood damage. So today we will look at eight tips for staying ahead of possible floods and mitigating risks that can lead to expensive repairs.
Construction of levees around a residential building can be effective at reducing or eliminating building and contents damage during flood events. The measures will work best when used along with a pump system or interior storage system to address rain that falls within the levee.
These are just a few ways to help keep floods from damaging your home. But major flooding can happen almost anywhere, so be sure to be prepared for it. Know where your utility shut-off valves are, keep your important documents and valuable electronics in an elevated and protected location, and always keep a ‘go bag’ filled with emergency supplies and relevant phone numbers. Prevention measures will go along way to lessening your chances for disaster, and being prepared in advance is crucial.
A new proposal by the Federal Emergency Management Agency would enable people whose homes were destroyed by floods and then bought out by the government to retain the flood-prone lands to rebuild or sell. If adopted, it would contradict FEMA’s long-standing policy of buying out and removing homes repeatedly damaged by floods, and then converting that land into open space.
The proposal has drawn sharp criticism from the New Jersey Flood Plain Managers and the National Resource Defense Council who believe it will perpetuate building on land at greatest risk to flooding and at highest cost to taxpayers.
According to the NRDC, “By purchasing a damaged house, paying for its demolition, and then allowing the owner to rebuild, FEMA is encouraging a maladaptive practice that does little to reduce long-term flood risk and flood damages.” (Read the NRDC blog post.)
FEMA’s current policy to repurpose land into open space is short-sighted and makes little practical sense. Why would a person who paid millions for a home by the shore allow the government to take the land instead of pre-emptively working with an engineer to create a hurricane-proof structure raised above the flood plain? This has been the norm here in Florida for some time.
New York and New Jersey could learn a lot from the work that Florida has done to change code requirements and help homeowners and businesses deal with the constant issues of hurricanes and flooding. The approach in Florida is all about storm hardening, not giving up.
I suspect the new FEMA proposal stems from lawsuits and politicians worried about the impact of undeveloped land on the tax base. Either way, if FEMA is going to burden taxpayers with the cost of rebuilding, the international building code must be enforced and special engineering standards must be met for all structures built in a flood zone. It makes sense.
FEMA’s proposal is not without problems. It would grant rebuilding money to homeowners who were approved for flood insurance without following dry flood proofing protocols. The maximum insurance payout was $250,000. Under the new policy, the homeowner would be able to collect the full value of the home, potentially millions of dollars.
Taxpayers should not be responsible for a gambler’s debit, penalized by short-sighted homeowners who decide to roll the dice rather than pay higher insurance premiums to protect their homes.
It is troubling that homeowners are not required to follow the same dry flood proofing guidelines as commercial building and business owners. FEMA must take steps to ensure that rebuilding funds are distributed only if dry flood proofing protocols are met. Without that assurance, taxpayers will be caught in a vicious cycle of paying every time these properties are wiped out by floods.
Tom Osborne is the owner and president of Flood Panel, LLC based in Jupiter, Florida. He oversees design, development and manufacturing of flood mitigation products for commercial buildings in flood zones nationwide. Osborne works closely with the Association of Flood Plain Managers and is a member of the Small Business Association of America. He is also a Certified Provider of Continuing Education for the American Institute of Architects for Dry Flood Proofing Commercial Buildings.
Flood Panel LLC accepts
all major credit cards.