Recent Storm Damage Posts

Thunderstorm Awareness

9/18/2019 (Permalink)

Hurricane season is approaching and even though we’re in the upstate we feel the effects of the coast. Heavy rains from a thunderstorm can cause flash flooding, and high winds can damage homes and cause severe damage.

The most important part about preparing for storms is educating yourself on what to do before, during and after thunderstorms. Know the difference in a thunderstorm watch and a warning to take the proper precautions.

Severe Thunderstorm Watch: Severe thunderstorms are possible in and near the watch area. Stay informed and be ready to act if a warning is issued.

Severe Thunderstorm Warning: Severe weather has been reported by spotters or indicated by radar. Warnings indicate imminent danger to life and property.

Learn your local community emergency warning system. It’s best to have plans in place to make sure, in case of an emergency, you are prepared.

Preparing for Thunderstorms:

  • Communicate with members in your household or business thunderstorm and lightening safety
  • Pick a area in your home of business to gather during a thunderstorm. Make sure this is away from glass windows or glass doorways
  • Consider specific needs in your household or business. Age, Disabilities, and/or any pets? If there are animals ensure that outside buildings that protect them are secured
  • Put together a kit with necessities in case of an emergency like water, flashlights, portable chargers, a first aid kit and blankets

American Red Cross has a downloadable Emergency app for iPhone and Android that provides weather alerts, map with open Red Cross shelter and an in-app toolkit.

This season, we our community will be ready and prepared thanks to SERVPRO OF East Greenville.

Watch VS Warning: A Cautionary Tale

4/15/2019 (Permalink)

The differences between a watch and a warning are drastic when dealing with tornadoes. Make sure your family understands them.

I was eights years old when Hurricane Hugo tore through the Upstate of South Carolina. It was one of the scariest days of my life. My mother and I lived in a trailer at the time, and I could hear the wind rattle the walls over the sound of the rain pounding the metal roof. The power was out, and we were listening to a battery-powered radio, as it repeated the various warnings and watches across the area. The announcement came over about a severe storm warning and a tornado watch for the area we lived in. My mom said we would be fine. Less than 30 mins later we were now under a tornado warning. We began scrambling to gather our pets and get in the car to drive to our neighbors’ house, but we were too late. A roaring train sound came through, and everything began to shake. My mom grabbed me, and we ran into the bathroom and jumped in the tub. When suddenly we were flipped.

Our trailer had been flipped over, and it could have been much worse if not for the pins that did hold. But it was over quickly and those few moments are a blur. Our home was all but destroyed after whatever hit us passed, my left arm was broken, my mother had a few broken ribs and a bad cut, and our pets didn’t survive.

I did not share this story for sympathy, instead to help show the importance of understanding what a watch or a warning means when it comes to severe weather. Had we taken action when the watch was issued, things may have happened differently.

Tornado Watch: Tornadoes are possible in and near the watch area. A watch area may be vast, spanning several counties and sometimes states. If a watch is issued in your area, start to prepare for severe weather. Check to make sure that there are supplies and that the designated safe area is ready, as well as confirm that everyone understands the plan.

Tornado Warning: A tornado has been spotted or indicated by radar inside the designated warning area. Warning areas are smaller and have shorter time intervals than watches. If a warning is issued for your area, take action and seek shelter immediately. Keep updated with weather alerts to be certain when the warning has expired.

Please learn from my experience and make sure that your family or coworkers understand the difference between a watch and warning, and make sure to have a plan in place.

Downspouts: Saving Your Property for Centuries

3/18/2019 (Permalink)

A downspout is a great way to prevent rainwater from saturating the ground next to your property.

If you are like me, the sound of pouring rain is very relaxing, almost nap-inducing. But have you ever heard it sound like that you are in the middle of a monsoon and look out the window to see that it is only a light drizzle? Your gutters may be overflowing causing water to pool against your foundation. Now if this sounds familiar, we do have a previous blog touting how important it is to take the time to care for your gutter. Now, this blog is dedicated to the Downspout, one of the true heroes of preventing water damage in your basement or crawlspace.

A downspout is a vertical pipe that attaches to your property’s gutters and navigates the flow of water off of a roof and away from the base of your home. Sometimes a downspout is connected to a yard drainage system or sewer, but most redirect the water into the ground to be absorbed. Downspouts are centuries old; it is believed that the first water spout was built in 1240. They became part of one of the most intriguing features of gothic architecture, the gargoyle, decorative stone carvings and statues built onto the walls and roofs, with the statue’s mouth acting as the downspout to protect churches and castles from erosion. In fact, in architecture terms, the word gargoyle only applies to figures that serve as downspouts, all other stone carvings of creatures that are solely for decoration are referred to as a “grotesque.”

Modern downspouts not only prevent erosion, but they also prevent water from depositing against a structure and potentially entering via wicking, cracks, and other entryways like crawlspace doors. A finished basement can flood, damaging the floors, walls, and furniture. Standing water in crawlspace can elevate moisture levels, increasing the chance for microbial growth and negatively affecting the air quality inside your home. That is why it is important to make sure that your gutters are free of debris, and why you should put a significant amount of thought into how you design your flowerbeds that are close to your home. Checking the gutters after a severe storm can help catch debris from clogging a gutter or downspout, and that can prevent rain from overflowing from the gutters and depositing near your foundation. You might inadvertently create a dam out of mulch, forcing the water to pool too close to your home and cause the issue that you are trying to prevent. You can also purchase attachments that will extend the pour point and give you more control of where the water flows out of the downspout.

There are multiple ways that you can protect your home or property’s crawlspace, foundation, and basement. And having a well placed and maintained downspout is a fantastic addition to your arsenal.

If water from excessive rain and any other reason has flooded your basement or crawlspace, call the SERVPRO of East Greenville County team at 864-292-3495. We are #Ready to provide you with mitigation services and help you make it “Like it never even happened.”

South Carolina Severe Weather Preparedness Week

3/11/2019 (Permalink)

The SCEMD app is a great tool that allows users to create plans and stay up to date on weather alerts.

March 10th through the 16th is Severe Weather and Flood Preparedness Week in South Carolina. The week is designed to reinforce that severe storms, tornadoes, and floods can have a significant impact on our state, and as residents, we need to take the proper safety precautions. The National Weather Service and the South Carolina Emergency Management Division (SCEMD) co-sponsor the week to promote awareness of the procedures that can help keep you safe during severe weather.

Meteorologists can track weather patterns to predict severe thunderstorms and flooding, but tornadoes are much more difficult to anticipate, and warnings may only be issued within minutes before striking. That is why it is essential to develop and practice an Emergency Action Plan at home and work in order to be as prepared as possible in the event of a tornado. Participating in tornado drills will help ensure that your family and co-workers are on the same page and know what action to take as well as their roles afterward. On Wednesday, March 13th at 9 AM there will be a statewide tornado drill, along with broadcast stations testing their emergency alert systems.

In South Carolina, the majority of tornadoes occur between March and May, but the ideal conditions for a tornado can happen at any time. That is why the National Weather Service has provided the following advice:

Before a Tornado

  • Be alert to changing weather conditions.
  • Listen to NOAA Weather Radio or commercial radio or television newscasts for the latest information.
  • Look for approaching storms.
  • Look for the following danger signs:
    • Dark, often greenish sky
    • Large hail
    • A large, dark, low-lying cloud (particularly if rotating)
    • Loud roar, similar to a freight train
  • If you see approaching storms or any of the danger signs, be prepared to take shelter immediately.

During a Tornado

  • If you are under a tornado warning, seek shelter immediately.
  • Get indoors to a pre-designated shelter area such as a basement, storm cellar or the lowest building level. If
    there is no basement, go to the center of an interior room on the lowest level (closet, interior hallway) away
    from corners, windows, doors, and outside walls.
  • If in a vehicle, trailer or mobile home, get out immediately and go to the lowest floor of a sturdy, nearby
    building or storm shelter.
  • If unable to get indoors, lie flat in a nearby ditch or depression and cover your head with your hands. Be
    aware of potential flooding and flying debris.
  • Never try to outrun a tornado in your vehicle. Instead, leave the vehicle immediately for safe shelter.

After a Tornado

  • Use the telephone only for emergency calls.
  • Avoid downed power lines and report them to your utility company.
  • Stay out of damaged buildings.

The SCDME also has an application to help you prepare and keep up to date during severe weather conditions. It is available for iPhone and Android operating systems.

How You Can Help Prevent Your Pipes From Freezing

12/6/2018 (Permalink)

A frozen over outside faucet can be a bad omen for your Greer, SC property. Make sure to take steps to protect your plumbing, inside and out.

Winter is coming. (Always wanted to say that in the right context.) And it is coming to the Greenville, SC a few weeks early. A blast of cold air is headed our way, and although there is uncertainty for ice or snow, one thing that is for sure is that temperatures are going to drop. Meteorologists are predicting lows in our area to be in the 20s for a few days next week, and the highs are not much warmer. So, make sure to stock up on bread, milk, batteries, and board games. But don’t forget to prep your pipes.

As a water damage mitigation company, we see a barrage of water losses during winter weather events. And these particular loses come with their own unique set of challenges, water from burst pipes can spill into a home and freeze or the power may be out for days. But the SERVPRO of East Greenville Team has the training and equipment to overcome these challenges and help you and your property recover quickly.

But that doesn’t mean that we can’t share some tips on how to help prevent pipes in your home, business, or facility from freezing and possibly causing major problems.

Keep your thermostat set at the same temperature during the day and night. If you grew up with a penny-pinching family member you might remember phrases like “Turn the heat down during the day, the sun will keep us warm,’ or “Turn the heat down at night and use extra blankets and put on two pairs of socks to keep warm.” My uncle said those exact statements frequently and many times during the same day. But trying to save a few cents can wind up costing a lot. It is a good idea to keep a warmer temperature consistent to help keep indoor pipes from getting too cold. Speaking of…

Open cabinet doors to allow warm air to circulate around indoor plumbing.  Keeping indoor pipes warm can prevent them from being the culprits if you do have a pipe burst, and that can limit the damage to crawlspaces or the exterior of the home. Make sure to put any harmful chemicals out of reach of small children or pets.

If you are planning to spend the cold weather somewhere other than home, set your thermostat to 55° or higher, you may not be at home, but your pipes are.

Use insulation to protect pipes in basements, crawlspaces, attics, and the exterior of your home. Insulation tape and water faucet covers can help protect any external faucets, just make sure to disconnect the hose for maximum protection. If a few items at $5 can prevent spending $1000s, sign us up. These can work in the short term, but you may want to contact a professional to install long-term insulation to your pipes under a house or in a basement or attic.

Turn the faucet on. You hear it a lot, but it works. Moving water is harder to freeze than still water. Even a slow drip can be enough to make a huge difference. Running the water in multiple rooms can help even more.

We hope that these tips are helpful, and if you have any additional best practices that you’d want to share, head on over to our Facebook and leave us a comment.

Essential Items to Keep in Your Vehicle During Greenville’s Winter Months

11/26/2018 (Permalink)

Getting stranded during a winter storm can be a dangerous spot to be stuck in. Make sure that you are prepared if you have to be on the road.

While it is true that we do not get a significant amount of winter weather here in Greenville, SC, when we do get it everything shuts down. Well almost everything, thanks Waffle House. Our area is notorious for false start winter storm warnings, empty bread aisles and milk shelves, and school cancelations. Just to get cold rain. And because of this, many folks around the area do not heed the warnings so when we do get a 4-inch blizzard, or even worse an ice storm, they are caught unaware, especially on the road.

Getting caught in heavy snow or ice while driving can be a challenge, after all, the Upstate does not get enough of it to become adapted to those conditions. And many facilities may hold off on closing or sending employees home until conditions are no longer safe to drive. You’ll see 85 and 385 dotted with abandoned vehicles the day after a winter event and you hope that everyone is OK and be happy that was not you.

But what do you do when it IS you? Do you chance it and walk a mile or two in the snow or ice, what if you have children or those with mobility issues? You may have to stay in the vehicle until conditions clear up, if they are clearing up soon. And that is why keeping the following items in the car during the winter months is a fantastic idea that can help to keep you and your family safe.

Flashlight: Keeping a flashlight in your car is always a good idea no matter what season, but if you are stuck during a winter storm you can use the flashlight to get the attention SHEP trucks or other good Samaritans and save your cell phone battery for trying to call for help. Speaking of which…

Cell phone battery pack: Having an external cell phone charger handy is a life saver. You may have to call for help or use GPs to locate a safe place to wait out the storm. These can be a little tricky because you do have to remember to keep them charged and put them back in the car too, but are still worth the investment.

Gloves, an extra set of warm clothes, and blankets: You may have to get out and push or try to dig out of a bad situation if you slide off the road. The gloves will keep your hands warm, but if there is still precipitation falling or deep snow having an extra set of clothes to change into can help prevent possible health concerns like frostbite or hypothermia. Depending on your situation you may be there a while, blankets will help keep you warm.

Kitty litter: Find the coarsest kitty litter you can and keep a bag or two in the trunk, but stay away from the scoopable variety. You need the rough litter to help give your tires traction if you are stuck. Spreading the litter near your tires and in front of the vehicle can help you to get out of a potentially dangerous scenario.

Reflectors, reflective clothing, and road flares: Visibility may be limited during, and after a storm, flares can help get others attention, the reflectors will help others to see your vehicle, and if you are risking the walk, reflective clothing like a vest can help other drivers to see you and avoid accidents.

Tow rope or chain: Remember the good Samaritans from earlier, they have stopped to help you but they do not have a way to help pull you out of the ditch and pushing is not working either. If their vehicle is built for working, they may be able to pull you out of the ditch. Just be sure of where to safely tie the chain or rope to both vehicles. (If you have a cell phone battery charger and are still have a signal you can look up the optimal spots on each car is for emergency towing.)

Water and non-perishable food: Being stranded is not fun, being stranded and hungry and thirsty is even less fun. Keeping water along with granola bars, jerky, or trail mix will give you the calories you need to stay warm. And if you have children with you, a snack can stave off crankiness and prevent a bad situation from getting worse. Just don’t eat out of boredom or stress eat, and check the expiration dates on your items.

There are many more things that you can keep in your car for the winter months, or all year (*cough cough* first aid kit) based on where you live. These are just a few ideas from our team based on some real-life experiences that we hope you never need but will be happy that you have.

Rapid Response to a Storm Event at a Greenville, SC business.

8/14/2018 (Permalink)

A water extraction in progress. It pulls water from a carpet before it can absorb into the padding.

Over the past few weeks, the Upstate received several inches of rain. Single day totals were broken in some cities and flash flood, and storm warnings were a daily occurrence. The final days of the deluge proved to be too much for a roof of a Greenville business as a small section of their roof gave way to a significant amount of water.

The office had closed for the weekend, but the water was pouring in and rushing across the floor so rapidly that it set off the motion detectors and a manager was alerted. (Which is lucky for them, because if this amount of water had sat for the entire weekend, there is no telling how much damage could have been done.) The business had used SERVPRO of East Greenville County for commercial cleaning services in the past and knew that we were the people to call for this emergency. Almost every member of our production crew was on site in less than two hours to start the water extraction and drying process. All the standing water was removed

The office space is over 20,000 square feet and is requiring 140 air movers, over a dozen dehumidifiers, and scores of man hours to get this business back into a working state. As of this posting, we expect the flooring to reach dry standard by August 15, and we will then begin inspecting for any secondary issues that can arise from water damage.

SERVPRO of East Greenville County is always ready to help your business recover as fast as possible to limit downtime and reduce the loss of productivity and profit. If your home or business experiences any disastrous event, give us a call at 864-292-3495, and we will be there to help you.

Being Proactive to Reduce Storm Damage in Greenville, SC.

6/28/2018 (Permalink)

Maintaining the trees on your Taylors property can help to limit the damage from severe weather.

This last week has seen severe thunderstorms pop up every afternoon in Greenville and the surrounding areas. Many of the late night and early morning news broadcasts have updates about the number of power outages or damage to homes, business, and churches across many counties in the Upstate. It is impossible to predict what impact a storm may have on your property, flooding, damaged roof, shattered windows, etc., but you can be proactive to limit the damage caused by the trees around your property.

Factors like the density of the canopy, the strength of the branches, and health of the root system need to be considered when preparing the trees on your property for any severe weather. And you can take steps to control these factors.

Pruning

Maintaining a tree can make a significant difference on if a tree survives a storm. Pruning the canopy – or the top of the tree- will reduce wind resistance and reduce the force that can damage limbs or the tree trunk causing the tree to topple over. Pruning can also remove dead or dying branches that have a much higher chance of being torn from a tree and causing damage to property. Having the trees on your property pruned may seem costly at first, but it can help to reduce or avoid damage that may have a much higher cost.

Mulching

Mulching isn’t just to improve curb appeal; it can also protect the root system of a tree. Having a wide “mulch” ring around a tree’s base prevents water from flowing away from the roots of the tree, allowing it absorb into the soil and nourish the tree. And since a trees root system can spread out for yards around a tree, the mulch ring puts distance between the tree and yard equipment like mowers, minimizing the damage that occurs when a mower blade nicks an exposed root.

If you have concerns about the condition of the trees around your Greer property or want to be proactive to prevent storm damage, contact a professional arborist.  Reducing the likelihood of storm damage is a great way to reduce its cost.

Volcanic Impacts to Greenville, SC Weather

6/4/2018 (Permalink)

Winds can spread the discharge from a volcano hundreds of miles, causing impacts to the weather for months.

There has been a significant amount of volcanic activity in the news recently, between Hawaii’s Mt. Kilauea and Volcán de Fuego in Guatemala.  And even though they are thousands of miles away, there is a possibility that they, especially Fuego, may impact the weather here in the Upstate.

While volcanologists are not 100% sure how much and eruption can impact the weather long term or long distance, they are starting to get a much clearer picture. They have determined that the size of the particles dispersed into the layers of the atmosphere can cause the Earth to heat or cool. If the particles are larger than 2 microns, they let the radiation from the Sun in but block the heat from the Earth from escaping, leading to warmer temperatures (an expedited Greenhouse Effect). If the particles are smaller than 2 microns can block the Sun and cause the Earth to cool. (OregonState.edu)

How this can affect us locally will be determined by the output from Fuego and how that impacts the waters in the Gulf of Mexico. If the particles prevent the heat from escaping the Earth, they can cause the temperatures to rise in the Gulf, and that includes the water temperatures. The warmer water can lead to more instability and produce more or stronger storm systems to develop. And as we just witnessed with Alberto, storms that come up through the Gulf can have a devastating impact on our region. This may call for meteorologists to reevaluate their predictions for the 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season.

But you do not have to wait to see if we are impacted to take action to help those that are affected right now. You can contact the American Red Cross to how you can help those in Hawaii and reach out to the International Committee of the Red Cross on how you can aid those in Guatemala.  

The “Official” Start of Hurricane Season

6/1/2018 (Permalink)

You can build your own disaster survival kit or purchase pre-made kits from many sources including the American Red Cross.

While we did get a head start with Tropical Storm Alberto, the Atlantic Hurricane Season officially begins today. Over the past few weeks, the outlook for the season has changed from below average to now near average. And while it can be tough predicting several months’ worth of weather events, it is very easy to get prepared.

The Upstate may not have to worry about many of the dangers of a hurricane, but if you have been here long enough to remember Hugo, you know that things can get intense. High winds, torrential rains, and offshoot tornadoes can bring massive amounts of damage and leave utilities down, make travel difficult, and quickly exhaust resources. So it is vital to plan ahead and take action early.

Ready.gov has lists to help make basic disaster supplies kits and some other crucial information to help you be storm ready.

First named Storm of 2018 Atlantic Hurricane Season

5/25/2018 (Permalink)

Weather Channel satellite image of Alberto’s location at the time it was officially named.

The Atlantic Hurricane Season technically begins on June 1 of each year. But, 2018 is off to an early start, more specifically 9 a.m. on May 25. The National Weather Service named the system in the northwestern Caribbean “Alberto.”

As of this posting, Alberto is only a sub-tropical storm, but local meteorologists are expecting Alberto to have a significant impact on the Upstate of South Carolina during and after the Memorial Day weekend. Weather patterns are predicting between 2 and 6 inches of rain in certain parts of the Upstate between Sunday and Wednesday. And that could lead to issues because of the amount of rainfall over the past two weeks saturating the ground. There may be flooding and mudslides in some areas.

We encourage area residents to exercise caution during this storm event.

Greenville Area Readies for Several Days of Rain

5/14/2018 (Permalink)

Several days of rain are no match for our highly trained crew. We are ready to respond 24/7 to storm or flood damage in Greenville. (weather.com)

The Upstate is expecting to receive a significant amount of rain over this week, with some days currently showing a 100% chance of rain. Local meteorologists are predicting anywhere from two to four inches of rain during the next five days, as well as prospects of thunderstorms, and some of those storms may be severe. Be sure to be aware of weather alerts and updates to make sure that you, your family, and property remain safe and secure.

Safety is important during severe weather, and quick action afterward is just as paramount in limiting and repairing any possible negative impacts.  Consecutive days of rain can lead to flooding or large pools of standing water around/under your home or business, potentially causing water damage or creating ideal situations for microbial growth. Strong winds, heavy rain, and hail can damage structures leading to leaks and other inconveniences that could turn into big problems.  

If you need SERVPRO Of East Greenville County ANYTIME, we will be there. Call us at 864-292-3495.

SERVPRO of East Greenville County is ready to help restore your property to pre-storm condition. Our highly trained team is prepared to respond quickly to lessen damage and reduce the restoration cost.

And if the storms cause widespread damage to Greer, we can scale our resources to handle a large storm or flooding disaster. We can access equipment and personnel from a network of 1,650 Franchises across the country and elite Disaster Recovery Teams that are strategically located throughout the United States.

Tornado Safety and Recovery Tips for the Greenville Area

5/13/2018 (Permalink)

A tornado can form quickly under the right weather conditions. Being Proactive versus being Reactive can help keep you safe.

If you have ever been through a tornado, then you know how unsettling of an experience it can be. The sky grows dark, the wind roars, you can feel the pressure change. You run under a door frame or to a stairwell, crawl into a bathtub, anywhere to feel safe. And although it only lasts for a few moments, it feels like forever.

Week 2 of National Building Safety Month’s theme is Protecting Communities from Disasters. And in the instance of severe weather like tornadoes and microburst, being prepared is some of the best protection to safeguard our Greenville community. The following are some excellent tips provided by the International Code Council to help become tornado ready.

Getting ready for Tornado Season

We may already be well into tornado season in the Upstate, but it is never a wrong time to start to prepare.

  • Make sure your family has a plan to congregate in a safe place during a storm.
  • Warn your children about finding a safe place away from home.
  • Store flashlights and extra batteries.
  • Clean storm gutters and drains.
  • Prepare your home for high winds and rain.
  • Repair/replace storm shutters.
  • Check your property insurance policy for appropriate coverage.

Before the storm

It can be impossible to predict when and where a tornado may form, but taking action when the weather is calling for conditions that can produce tornadoes can save precious time if watches or warnings are issued.

  • Bring in outdoor objects such as lawn furniture, toys, and garden tools. Anchor objects that cannot be brought inside.
  • Check/replace emergency supplies and store bottled drinking water.
  • Review family emergency plans.
  • Keep a supply of flashlights and extra batteries handy.
  • Secure your home by unplugging appliances and turning off electricity and the main water valve.

During the storm

Severe weather can be intense and may call for quick thinking and action. Knowing what "NOT to do" can be just as helpful as knowing what to do.

  • Stay inside in a secure place, away from windows, skylights, and glass doors. Listen to a crank- or battery-operated radio for storm progress reports. DO NOT GO OUTSIDE.
  • Stay away from electrical equipment and piping that can conduct electricity from lightning.
  • Keep a supply of flashlights and extra batteries handy.
  • Avoid flooded roads, and watch for washed-out bridges.

After the storm

The impact of a tornado can leave behind damage and create other dangers. Being cautious and alert can prevent further damage or injury.

  • Listen for the all-clear from a community siren, or from local radio. Make sure everyone is okay; get emergency help, as needed.
  • Be careful as you assess the damage in your home, watching for live wires, broken glass, nails and other debris
  • Take pictures of any damage to the house and its contents for insurance claims.
  • Check the exterior. Avoid loose or dangling power lines and report them immediately to the power company, police or fire department. The same goes for gas lines.
  • Let your insurance company know of any damage. Work only with accredited companies on any repairs. If you suspect a scam, report it to authorities.

Being prepared goes a long way in keeping a community safe during and after the storm. And if you need us SERVPRO of East Greenville County can help you minimize secondary damage and restore your Greer home, business, or facility to pre-storm condition quickly.

How Innovation Can Help Greer Businesses and Residents Recover from Storms and Floods Faster

5/8/2018 (Permalink)

Freeboard is a voluntary increase in the height of new construction or substantial damage requiring elevation adopted by a community. (FEMA)

The weather in the Upstate can provide us with amazingly beautiful days, and sometimes it can leave us in a bit of a bind. Our area’s location at the base of the foothills is mostly protected from harsh winter weather that comes in from the northwest by the mountains. But a significant portion of our rain events can come from the southwest and are not blocked, and some unfortunate storm events come from the east and are then held in our area by the same mountains that shelter us from the snow and ice. When a storm system is held over our area, high rainfall totals can cause the many creeks, rivers, and lakes in Greer and Greenville to rise and waters to flood. Roads are impassable, bridges swept away, homes and businesses are damaged.

Week 2 of National Building Safety Month’s theme is Advancing Resilient Communities Though Science & Technology. Here is some general information about an innovation designed to help limit the negative impacts of water damage.

What is Freeboard

Weather control technology is (fingers crossed) decades away, but innovations and advancements have been made to limit the damage and reduce recovery time and cost. One such innovation is using a process called “Freeboard” to elevate a structures lowest floor 1 to 3 feet above predicted flood levels for a given area. In most instances, the cost of incorporating Freeboard into building a new structure or renovation of an existing structure can be offset by the reduction of premiums. *It is critical to consult with a licensed insurance professional to discuss if Freeboard will have an impact on premiums.*

Benefits of Freeboard

  • Increased protection from floods and storms. Storm waters can and do rise higher than shown on Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs). Freeboard helps protect buildings from storms larger than those that FIRMs are based on and provides an added margin of safety to address the flood modeling and mapping uncertainties associated with FIRMs.
  • Greatly reduced flood insurance premiums. Recognizing that freeboard reduces flood risk, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA, which administers the NFIP) provides substantial (sometimes more than 50 percent) reductions in flood insurance premiums for structures incorporating freeboard. These savings can rapidly accumulate, especially over the life of a normal mortgage.
  • Codes are cost-effective, too. A study for FEMA done by the National Institute of Building Sciences’ Multihazard Mitigation Council showed that for every dollar spent on mitigation efforts like adopting current codes, four dollars were saved in post-disaster relief costs.

 Who Can Benefit from Freeboard

  • Homeowners- Whether or not you live in the house year-round, having it elevated increases the chances that it will weather storms safely, decreasing your worry and protecting your investment. If you’re building a new home or doing a renovation, ask your builder/designer about incorporating freeboard.
  • Builders/contractors- Freeboard provides a competitive edge over other builders, allowing you to market the benefits of reduced flood insurance and flood risk to potential buyers. When doing retrofits (especially those requiring bringing structures up to current NFIP standards), explain the benefits of freeboard to your clients.
  • Municipalities- When constructing new municipal buildings (schools, fire stations, etc.) use freeboard as a means of saving tax dollars. Encourage all new construction in your community to include freeboard.
  • Businesses- Freeboard helps: protect your buildings, important records, and inventory from flooding; drastically decrease your recovery/clean-up time after the storms, and potentially save your business. The Institute for Business and Home Safety reports that more than 25 percent of businesses that close due to storm damage never reopen.

Information provided by Mass.gov

For more information about Freeboard contact your licensed insurance professional. If your home or business has been impacted by a flood or rain event, SERVPRO of East Greenville County can assist you with water damage repair and restoration or mold remediation and restoration.