For buildings in hazardous areas that cannot be relocated or removed, the best option may be to retrofit them to improve their chances of surviving storm events. FEMA and other organizations have done extensive research to determine what type of construction techniques best survive storms.
Retrofitting options to improve a building's storm readiness include elevating it on open pilings above predicted flood heights, incorporating freeboard into design, anchoring structures to resist flotation, reducing or completely removing impervious ground cover, and installing protective structures over windows and doors. While not all of these options are inexpensive, there is potential funding available (See the funding page for more information.)
Specific resources for information on retrofitting include:
- FEMA's Home Builder's Guide to Coastal Construction includes 31 fact sheets. Page 6 of fact sheet 30, Repairs, Remodeling, Additions, and Retrofitting, outlines retrofitting options for homes in coastal areas.
- FEMA's Coastal Construction Manual is an excellent resource on development and redevelopment in floodplains particularly: Section 2.3 Breaking the Disaster-Rebuild-Disaster cycle, Chapter 3 Identifying Hazards, Chapter 4 Siting (for existing and redevelopment), and Chapter 5 Investigating Regulatory Requirements and best practices for exceeding minimum requirements that reduce your vulnerability to damage and potentially reduce your flood insurance rates.
- FEMA's Free-of-Obstruction Requirements provides guidance on how to elevate your home in hazard-prone coastal areas to reduce the potential for damage to your home, meet NFIP minimum requirements, and help reduce your flood insurance costs.
- Hurricane Ike in Texas and Louisiana: Mitigation Assessment Team Report Building Performance Observations, Recommendations and Technical Guidance is an extensive report published by FEMA on what types of building techniques survived best during this storm event.
- Hurricane Katrina in the Gulf Coast: Mitigation Assessment Team Report, Building Performance Observations, Recommendations, and Technical Guidance is an extensive report published by FEMA on what types of structures survived best during the 2005 hurricane season.
- FEMA's Mitigation Assessment Team Report: Summary Report on Building Performance 2004 Hurricane Season summarizes the observations, conclusions, and recommendations that were obtained during FEMA's post-disaster assessments in 2004.
- The Institute for Business and Home Safety's website has useful information on simple steps to protect existing structures from hazards.
- The Florida Division of Emergency Management's Hurricane Retrofit Guide describes how homeowners can protect their homes from wind and rain damage.