When dealing with external flood threats, pre-planning can offer several benefits in reducing potential damage to the building and limit the amount of time (and money) needed to recover from extensive flood events. While floods may occur with little to no warning, there are steps that can be taken to minimize the damage when you do receive flood warnings. First and foremost is ensuring that all occupants know how to safely evacuate the building, or when evacuation is not possible, know where within the building to safely await assistance. Once the occupants’ safety is addressed it is time to focus on limiting damage to the building. Begin with relocating building contents to floor levels that are above the anticipated flood levels, de-energizing electrical equipment serving portions of the building that may become flooded to reduce shock-hazard, protecting points of entry with sand bags or other methods of limiting water intrusion, and preparing pumps and hoses to extract the water.


Most buildings and facilities along the Atlantic and Gulf Coast have been designed to resist the effects of high wind damage sustained during hurricanes and coastal storm surges. Building codes require that glazing and garage doors are impact resistant or are provided with impact resistant coverings in wind-borne debris areas and that the roof structures are continuously tied into the foundation to limit uplift. These provisions prevent the most vulnerable portions of the building from being compromised by strong winds and water intrusion which can significantly impact the ability of the building to be utilized after a storm.


Building owners in areas most susceptible to wildfires should make sure that there is adequate and unimpeded access to their properties for the fire department in the areas around and leading to their buildings. The regulations require that the wall assemblies and roof covering meet certain fire-resistance ratings and/or use only ignition-resistant materials. Buildings also should be provided with ample defensible space surrounding the structure clear of accumulated debris, such as leaves, yard waste, and brush. Regulations also may include having an adequate supply of onsite water, especially for buildings that are located in areas that are not serviced by a municipal water supply.