DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum

DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum (
-   General DIY Discussions (
-   -   Disaster relief, I need info!!! (

Hammer450R 11-09-2012 06:01 AM

Disaster relief, I need info!!!
I need to be schooled in how this all works. No better place to ask than here.
Problem: entire neighborhoods with a 3 ft water mark in first floors
Ok most of what im doing now is tearing everything 4 ft down to get rid of the water damage. Many many houses, so sad.
What i need to know is a few things.

1. At what moisture level is it safe to start insulating and rocking again?
2. How does the whole FEMA/ Insurance company go together here?
3. What is the long term affect of salt water on the plywood and joists?

Thanks for any info you can give.

GBrackins 11-09-2012 07:51 AM


So sorry to hear about your loss, it truly was devastating. I will provide you some links and information in regards to your questions. Hopefully this will be helpful to you.

I'm certain other forum members will post additional information through the next few days.

Three feet may be typical from this flood event, however I'd want to know what is the 1% flood event as shown on FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Maps. In the next section I have provided you with a link to find your flood map.

You would also need to know what is the ground elevation so you would know how high above your ground the flood waters are expected to reach. Your building department should be able to provide this basic information to you as typically they are the FEMA coordinator for the National Flood Insurance Program (your area may vary).

The first thing I would do is go to the FEMA site and locate your site by address on a FEMA Flood Insurance Rate Map to determine what your special flood hazard zone's base flood elevation is.

On how to use the maps check this out

I would also recommend checking out Home Builder's Guide to Coastal Construction by FEMA. This will provide you with valuable information in regards to proper building techniques in flood prone regions.

I would open all enclosed cavities that were exposed to water and remove any water saturated insulation. Wood is hydroscopic in that it can absorb water, but it can also release the trapped moisture when the relative humidity is lower. You want to allow any trapped moisture to escape and the cavity to dry out. Typically wood should have a moisture content that does not exceed 19% before being enclosed.

Salt water typically has more effect on metals than on wood as it can lead to corrosion. Metals do not have to be submerged in salt water to have corrosion. Merely being exposed to the salt air can do this. I would suggest using stainless steel fasteners if you are within 600-feet to the ocean, salt marshes or within a Special Flood Hazard Zone.

The National Flood Insurance Program run by FEMA is basically an insurance policy. It covers damage caused by floods to both building and contents. If you have NFIP coverage you'd have to check with your agent/policy to determine what your coverage is, and how to file a claim. If you have not done this I'd make this my first call. Typically you can be compensated for savage/corrective actions you've taken. Keep all receipts. Discuss this with your agent.

The federal government was forced into providing flood insurance when back in the 60's most national insurance companies stopped providing coverage due to the number of flood events that had occurred.

For how the NFIP works check out this link.

Another valuable source of information is the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes.

I hope I've provided some information you might find helpful.

Post back with any questions ..... Good luck! :thumbsup:

Hammer450R 11-09-2012 07:57 AM

Gbrackins again you just blow me away!
But let me clear the air I'm not a beach person and would never live or own a house down there. I am down there to fix it, and want to school myself so i dont do anything wrong. I have built many houses along the shore but i never had to deal with water damage like this.
Ok I'm going to read all the good info from GB, thanks again GB!

GBrackins 11-09-2012 08:15 AM


I happened to have lived within hurricane prone regions my entire life first in South Florida (went through Andrew in 1992) and now in Massachusetts near Cape Cod so I'm experienced in dealing with FEMA regulations and building construction in a coastal environment.

I am a beach person. Until 2 years ago I live a block from the beach (just outside the flood hazard zone).

Thank you for your kind comments.

One issue to check into before starting to work .......

are they within a Special Flood Hazard Zone? If so is the expected cost of repairs more than 50% of the assessed value of the home? if the costs to repair exceed 50% then they would be required to bring the structure up to all current building codes.

From the 2009 International Residential Code:

R105.3.1.1 Determination of substantially improved or substantially damaged existing buildings in flood hazard areas. For applications for reconstruction, rehabilitation, addition or other improvement of existing buildings or structures located in an area prone to flooding as established by Table R301.2(1), the building official shall examine or cause to be examined the construction documents and shall prepare a finding with regard to the value of the proposed work. For buildings that have sustained damage of any origin, the value of the proposed work shall include the cost to repair the building or structure to its predamaged condition. If the building official finds that the value of proposed work equals or exceeds 50 percent of the market value of the building or structure before the damage has occurred or the improvement is started, the finding shall be provided to the board of appeals for a determination of substantial improvement or substantial damage. Applications determined by the board of appeals to constitute substantial improvement or substantial damage shall require all existing portions of the entire building or structure to meet the requirements of Section R322.

this provides you with the requirements for construction within a SFHZ:

Another good source of information is the American Wood Council. find out what the Basic Wind Speed for your area is, probably 110 mph or 120 mph.
You can download a free "Guide to Wood Construction in High Wind Areas" from this link. If the property is on the water then there will be additional requirements not covered in the Guide. If they have to rebuilt to current codes they would need to hire someone knowledgeable in coastal design, and a professional engineer.

Good luck!

joecaption 11-09-2012 08:20 AM

Not sure how it works there but here in VA if the repairs cost more then 45% of the value of the home or local building dept. will not issue a building permit unless you first lift the home above the 100 year flood level.
Once lifted they were no long required to even carry flood insurance.
Fema has had so many repeat claims around here they offered to pay part of the lifting cost, a few they offered to buy the house and they tore them down.
If there's a crawl space we have to use special access doors that come undone in a flood and special vents that open up when the water reaches them.
And there not cheap.

GBrackins 11-09-2012 08:27 AM

and in some areas when FEMA pays out on a substantial claim they tell you to comply with current codes or they won't pay on the next one .....

Joe is correct, the IRC states "exceeds 50%", you may want to check with the locals to see if they have modified the code for less than 50% ......

the ones with the real power to control how we build are the insurance companies more than the building codes. the codes provide the minimum requirements, insurance companies can require more, either do what they want or go elsewhere for insurance.

a little back story, from 1970 until the hurricane season of 2005 the NFIP was a solvent insurance program ran by FEMA meaning the premiums covered losses without support of tax payer $$$. There were so many claims in 2005 (remember Katrina?) that the program did not have the money and was forced to go before Congress to borrow money. The NFIP was almost eliminated this year by Congress.

GBrackins 11-09-2012 11:52 PM


Originally Posted by joecaption (Post 1048050)
If there's a crawl space we have to use special access doors that come undone in a flood and special vents that open up when the water reaches them.
And there not cheap.

Joe, have you checked out or used SmartVents?

this is what is used in my area routinely. I like the fact you can get a lourvered vent that will open when the weather is warm and close when it gets cold on its own.

It provides 200 square feet of enclosed space protection and will allow a 3-inch diameter object to pass through per FEMA regulations. Not bad for a vent that requires a 8"x16" opening.

In Massachusetts our crawl spaces in an A-Zone (normal flood hazard zone) must be at grade on at least one side, if not then the crawl space would be considered as the lowest floor. Talk about messing up your flood insurance rates.

forcedreno2012 11-11-2012 12:28 AM

Hammer sorry you are dealing with this and I feel for what the folks up there are going through. We are still reeling from Isaac down here. Had over 3 feet in our house so I'm a bit further in on the process.

A few items to add to the to the great advice you have already been given.

In reference to when you can rebuild. We were told the moisture content has to be less than 20 % the big box stores have a cheap 30 dollar moisture reader that works like the bomb for showing the content.

You have to go up 1 foot higher than the water line. ie 3 feet of water you need to gut it up to 4 feet osmosis causes the water to rise further than the line shows on the walls internally.

Get the carpet out as fast as you can that stuff stinks. Even if you have to cut it up do it, the house reeked untill that stuff was out.

Bleach does not kill mold on studs, the molecules are too big to get into the studs. It only kills the top of the mold and not the mold prongs (highly technical term there) that are in the wood. Bleach only kills mold on non porus surfaces. Be careful of the over the counter items be sure they say that they Kill mold and not just bleach the mold or remove mold stains. You need a good antimicrobial. If you dont really kill it it will come back....sometimes in as little as 24 hours although its a little colder up there it may take longer. If there is already mold where you are working spray it with water to chill it out so it does not go flying everywhere when you are gutting.

If electrical items have gotten salt water in them toss them. Electrical boards dont like saltwater....they don't like fresh water very much either. All plugs switches etc below water will have to be replaced. Down here you even have to replace the hvac, water heater and all appliances if they got wet. The county will most likely direct you on what needs to happen.

If you are saving wood furniture don't put it in the sun to dry it will dry too quick and warp and crack. Dry it in the shade.

If you cook with it, store food in it, sleep on or in it, eat off of it or sit on it and it got wet out it goes to the trash. It's hard to do but you have to do it you don't know what is in the water.Two words...sewer backups - nuff said.

Speaking of which the epa and the fema peeps tell you to bleach things to clean them, go one step further like we did. Go to a janatorial office and get the good stuff that they clean the operating rooms with. This stuff kills aids, mold, mildew and a host of other stuff that bleach cannot kill. When it comes to sanitizing a living space you cannot have too much.

Be safe, get the correct respirator and goggles, it really makes a difference and a house is not worth getting sick over. Gloves are a must (you need multiple pairs of heavy duty ones to alternate as they get wet and destroyed) and have a "dip" bucket handy with water and bleach or other sanitizer, the gloves come off - the hands go into the dip bucket no if ands or buts, live it learn it love it - your health is more important than any possesion you own.

When you start the rebuilding process go to local suppliers - they have been amazing down here giving the average home owner contracting prices.

Hope some of this helps and sorry for getting on the soapbox.

If you are working with homeowners that are dealing with this treat them gently, people tend to go into shock and react in different ways.

If you are a homeowner dealing with this my heart goes out to you but it WILL get better.


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 07:24 PM.

vBulletin Security provided by vBSecurity v2.2.2 (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.
User Alert System provided by Advanced User Tagging (Pro) - vBulletin Mods & Addons Copyright © 2017 DragonByte Technologies Ltd.

Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.1