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« FLOOD AWARENESS INFORMATION | Main | Hurricanes »
Wednesday
Jun132018

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Prepare Your Home & Property

  • Protect your home and property by reducing potential flood damage.
  • Build with flooding in mind.
  • Know how to secure your home inside and outside.
  • Take measures to protect equipment and important papers.
  • And consider buying flood insurance.

Secure your home inside and outside

Elevate the furnace, water heater, and electric panel if susceptible to flooding.

Install "check valves" in sewer traps to prevent floodwater from backing up into the drains of your home.

FEMA's guide for homeowners, "Protecting Your Home and Property from Flood Damage (PDF)," will help you become familiar with ways to protect your home from flooding.

Safely shutting off utilities

In the event of a disaster, you may be instructed to shut off the utility service at your home. 

Protect your valuables

Even a few inches of rain can cause extensive damage in your home. Take steps now to protect your valuables.

  • Keep a record of your personal property for insurance purposes.
    • Take photos or a video of the interior and exterior of your home and your most valuable possessions. Include household possessions (including model and serial numbers) and personal belongings in your inventory.
    • Save and store receipts for expensive household items (appliances, electronic equipment, etc.) so that you have proof of original cost.
    • Download the free Household and Personal Property Inventory Book (PDF) from Ready.gov.
  • Store your inventory and documents such as insurance policies, deeds, property records, passport, birth and marriage certificates, social security cards, wills, bank and financial information and other important papers in a safety deposit box away from your home. Make copies of important documents for your disaster supplies kit.
  • It is advisable to keep a small amount of cash or traveler’s checks at home in a safe place that you can quickly access in case of evacuation.

Consider buying flood insurance now

Flooding causes more than 90 percent of all disaster-related property damage in the United States but most homeowner policies do not cover flood damage. Because of this, we recommend purchasing flood insurance.

The County of Hawai‘i participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), enabling residents to purchase flood insurance with discounted premiums.

Contact your insurance agent or call NFIP, 1-888-379-9531.

Prepare Yourself & Your Family

Prepare yourself and your family for possible flooding by creating and practicing a family emergency plan and assembling your disaster supplies kit. When you are in areas of heavy rains, tsunami, hurricane or tropical storm surge, you may need to prepare to evacuate or to survive on your own for a period of time.

Being prepared can reduce fear, anxiety, and losses that accompany disasters. Communities, families and individuals should know the warning signs of floods and flash floods and be ready to evacuate their homes, take refuge in public shelters and know how to care for their basic medical needs.

Begin by reviewing Red Cross guidelines on preparing your family for a flood, creating a family disaster plan and an evacuation plan.

Here are additional online sources to help you assemble a basic emergency supply kit and create an evacuation plan and additional emergency plans for yourself and your family and pets.

Are you ready? FEMA booklet

Safely Shutting Off Utilities

In the event of a disaster, you may be instructed to shut off the utility service at your home. Below are some general guidelines for shutting off utility service. Modify this information to reflect your utility company's shut-off requirements.

Natural Gas

Natural gas leaks and explosions are responsible for a significant number of fires following disasters.

  • All household members should know how to shut off natural gas.
  • Because there are different gas shut-off procedures for different gas meter configurations, contact your local gas company for guidance regarding gas appliances and gas service to your home.
  • When you learn the proper shut-off procedure for your meter, share the information with everyone in your household.
  • Be sure not to turn off the gas when practicing the proper gas shut-off procedure.
  • If you smell gas or hear a blowing or hissing noise, open a window and get everyone out quickly. Turn off the gas, using the outside main valve if you can, and call the gas company from a neighbor’s home.

CAUTION - If you turn off the gas for any reason, a qualified professional must turn it back on. NEVER attempt to turn the gas back on yourself.

Water

Water quickly becomes a precious resource following many disasters. It is vital that all household members learn how to shut off the water at the main house valve.

  • Cracked lines may pollute the water supply to your house. It is wise to shut off your water until you hear from authorities that it is safe for drinking.
  • The effects of gravity may drain the water in your hot water heater and toilet tanks unless you trap it in your house by shutting off the main house valve (not the street valve in the cement box at the curb—this valve is extremely difficult to turn and requires a special tool).

Preparing to shut off water:

  • Locate the shut-off valve for the water line that enters your house.
  • Make sure this valve can be completely shut off. Your valve may be rusted open, or it may only partially close. Replace it if necessary.
  • Label this valve with a tag for easy identification, and make sure all household members know where it is located.

Electricity

Electrical sparks have the potential of igniting natural gas if it is leaking. It is wise to teach all responsible household members where and how to shut off the electricity.

Preparing to shut off electricity:

  • Locate your electricity circuit box.
  • Teach all responsible household members how to shut off the electricity to the entire house.

FOR YOUR SAFETY - Always shut off all the individual circuits before shutting off the main circuit breaker.

Source: Are You Ready? An In-depth Guide to Citizen Preparedness (FEMA, IS-22), pp. 25-28 (PDF 1 MB).

 

Build with Flooding in Mind

You can reduce flood damage by flood proofing, elevating a home or even moving a home out of harm’s way. Know your flood zone and avoid building in a floodplain—any land area that can be inundated by water from any source.

If you must build, fill or otherwise develop in a floodplain, follow County of Hawai‘i floodplain management permit requirements stated in the Hawai‘i County Code Chapter 27. To minimize private losses due to flooding, the code outlines methods and provisions for development, initial construction, diverting floodwaters or altering natural floodplains, stream channels and natural barriers. Additional standards may apply for coastal high hazard areas (see Section 27-23 of Chapter 27).

County Requirements

Obtain the necessary building permits from the Department of Public Works Building Division and follow the Hawai‘i County General Plan and the County Code (see Chapter 5) when building or maintaining property. All development (not just the construction of buildings) in floodplain areas requires County permits.

Elevation Certificates and Supplemental Forms

Hawai‘i County participates in the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), which requires elevation certificates for all new and substantially improved buildings. 

Along with elevation certificates, the County requires supplemental forms for structures or improvements in Special Flood Hazard Area (SFHA) or within the County's “Buffer Zone.”

  • For additional information on elevation certificates, visit the FEMA website or call the Hawai‘i County Floodplain Manager, 808-961-8327.

Detached Accessory Structures Within Designated Flood Zones

Completion of the Detached Accessory Structure in A Zone requires the applicant to engage a professional before submitting plans. This may cause needless expense and effort if the property is exempt. Please contact the Engineering Division at 961-8327 or email dpweng@co.hawaii.hi.us for additional information.

Resources for Flood Mitigation

FEMA and other organizations offer publications and online information to help you reduce potential flood damage. Detailed information about flood resistant construction techniques is available in the following publications.

Both publications are available at libraries in Hawai‘i County or can be downloaded.  FEMA publications are free.

   Additional Online Resources

  • Wet and Dry flood-proofing information from the Federal Alliance for Safe Homes Web site.
  • Protecting Building Utilities From Flood Damage (FEMA 348). This publication is intended to assist developers, architects, engineers, builders, code officials and homeowners to construct with building utility systems that are designed and built so that the buildings can be re-occupied and fully operational as soon as electricity and sewer and water are restored to the neighborhood.
  • FEMA’s Protect Your Property from Flooding is a series of eight publications with topics ranging from inspecting and maintaining the building to installing protective devices.
  • University of Hawai‘i at Hilo has reminders to elevate main breakers, waterproof exterior walls, anchor water tanks and clear debris from storm drains and gutters.

Report illegal floodplain development to Department of Public Works at 808-961-8327.

Resources to help you prepare for floods

Publications

  • Family Communications Plan Your family may not be together when an emergency strikes, and it is important to plan a safe place to meet, how to contact each other, how you will get together, and what to do in different situations. 

 

 

Online preparedness resources

Selecting A Contractor/Consultant

If you have suffered disaster related damage to your home or business that needs cleaning and repairs, be careful when hiring contractors.  Sadly, in disaster situations, there are unscrupulous individuals ready to take advantage of the misfortunes of others.  However, recovery from damage can be a positive experience if you take your time, talk to building and floodplain officials, and carefully select a contractor.  The following are some suggestion to help you select a contractor/consultant:

 

1. USE RELIABLE LICENSED CONTRACTORS AND HIRE LOCAL CONTRACTORS IF POSSIBLE

To see if a contractor is properly licensed or has any outstanding complaints, get the contractor's name and license number and contact State of Hawai‘i, Department of Consumer Affairs by calling (808) 587-3222, or online at:

To Verify Registration/License: http://cca.hawaii.gov/rico/licensedcontractor/
File a Complaint: http://cca.hawaii.gov/rico/forms/

2. KNOW HOW MUCH YOU CAN SPEND

Fix your budget in advance and keep some in reserve to pay for changes or unanticipated costs.

3. SHOP AROUND AND ASK FOR REFERENCES

Get at least 3 bids or estimates. Make sure the bids are all based on the same work and the same materials.  If bid amounts vary significantly, ask why.  Call trade organizations or ask friends or relatives for referrals. Ask to see other projects the contractor has completed and to meet other clients.

4. MAKE SURE YOUR PROJECT IS IN COMPLIANCE WITH CITY AND COUNTY CODES

If a building permit is required, ask the contractor who will be responsible for the permitting process. Know the risks and responsibilities of an “owner-builder” project.

5. ASK FOR A WRITTEN CONTRACT

Read the fine print and compare several competing services and prices before settling on one contractor.  A written contract should include the contractor’s license number, price, start and stop date, the work to be performed and the materials to be used.    Be sure to identify all tasks to be performed in great detail, all associated costs, payment schedule, and who applies for necessary permits and licenses.  You may want to have a lawyer review the contract if substantial cost is involved. Be sure to keep a copy of the signed contract.

6. GET ANY PROMISES, GUARANTEES OR WARRANTIES IN WRITING

The guarantee of work should state what is guaranteed, who is responsible and how long the guarantee is valid.

7. KNOW WHO YOUR SUBCONTRACTORS ARE

Have your contractor provide a list of subcontractors to be used on your project and verify that they are properly licensed and have no outstanding complaints against them.

8. BE ALERT AND NEVER SIGN A BLANK CONTRACT

If you are offered a price that is far less than other bids received, it may be too good to be true.  Never sign a blank contract!

9. PAY AS YOU GO AND PAY BY CHECK

Your contract should contain a payment schedule that follows the amount of work completed.  Avoid paying all of the money up front or on-the-spot cash payments. It is best to write a check to the company. Thirty percent of the total cost is a reasonable down payment. If a contractor insists on an advance payment for materials, make the check out to the supplier, or to both the supplier and the contractor.

10. GET PROOF OF INSURANCE AND BONDING

Confirm your contractor carries general liability, workers' compensation insurance and is bonded.

11. AVOID LIENS

Request partial lien releases for partial payments and a final lien release for final payments.

12. MONITOR THE WORK AND KEEP GOOD RECORDS

Keep a file with the contract, cancelled checks and correspondence. Make sure any change orders are in writing.  Have work inspected before it is buried or hidden (e.g., sewers or below grade walls).

13. AT THE END OF THE PROJECT, DO A THOROUGH “WALK-THROUGH” AND TAKE CARE OF ANY “PUNCH LIST” ITEMS IMMEDIATELY

 

14. DON'T MAKE FINAL PAYMENT UNTIL THE WORK IS DONE TO YOUR SATISFACTION

To ensure that no one who supplied materials can put a lien on your home because the contractor did not pay them, obtain a final lien release prior to final payments and make sure a notice of completion is published in a newspaper.

Persons who are having problems with a contractor or who suspect fraud are urged to contact:

Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs
345 Kekuanaoa St., Room 12
Hilo, HI 96720-4388
808-933-8846


Kona Office
75-170 Hualalai Rd. Room C-3-09
Kailua-Kona, Hi 96740
808-327-9590

www.hawaii.gov/dcca/rico