By Anessa V. Cohen
In the past, even just this summer, if someone had asked me or many others if we were concerned about a flooding situation as we experienced on October 29, we would have looked at the individual as if he had lost his mind. Nearly no one (I say nearly, since there could have been someone who thought or said it that I never spoke to) in this neighborhood ever dreamed of experiencing the sheer destruction so many of us witnessed or fell victim to during Storm Sandy.
Now post-Sandy, I find myself reflecting on the entire flood situation with new eyes and thoughts as to how to protect myself and hopefully those around me. By installing as many safeguards and bulwarks as possible, we hope to prevent or lessen floodwater home invasions and damage in the future. Some methods are tried and true, and some are basically practical. Why is it that I keep thinking of the story of the Three Little Pigs while we speak of house resilience?
I have donned a temporary new hat since the flood, that of reconstruction coordinator. I have taken on the supervision of a number of reconstruction projects (besides my own) for various clients who are either not around to supervise or need the services of someone who can keep an eye on and make sure the different stages of repair and renovation are being completed as contracted.
While working on these projects, I have stressed to my clients, in my new state of paranoia, the importance of trying to rebuild in a defensive as well as practical fashion. I advise them to take the time to forensically revisit the way the floodwaters came and invaded their homes so that the areas of their homes that were weak and allowed entrance to the flooding can possibly be made more water-resistant.
For instance, I noticed that on three sides of my house where the foundation wall juts up several feet from ground level, no floodwater entered my home. It was only on the two sides of my attached garage, where I did not have the same cement foundation wall, that the water was able to enter. I will be building a similar type of cement-and-cinderblock wall on those sides of my garage so floodwater cannot get in that way. I am utilizing this theory of mine with several other houses I am working on with attached garages to have the contractors build cement walls at least as high as wherever the floodwaters rose on the streets where those houses are situated.
Anyone can adapt this idea to suit the individual layouts of their own home by walking around the perimeter of their house, looking to see what type of exterior walls they have from the ground up to wherever the floodwaters entered their homes, and trying to figure, together with their contractor, what materials could be installed which might make those walls more resistant to possible flooding.
Another priority I think everyone rebuilding should take into consideration when possible is adding an automatic, natural-gas-powered generator. After this nightmare of not only having flooding and damage but no heat and electricity for so long and having to stand on line for gasoline for hours, having a built-in natural-gas generator attached to your existing gas line which automatically kicks on in times of blackout and can give you heat and lights is something every homeowner should put on their priority list, just as you would upgrade windows or doors. An automatic natural-gas generator is something that is useful all year round, since we also have occasions when we have blackouts during the summer or sometimes just suddenly with no warning.
Having a generator installed will assist us better than those flashlights and emergency batteries we prepare all the time—except it will be more encompassing since we can still have heat, air conditioning, refrigeration, and lights without having to make do or power up our portable generators and then find gas to fill them with.
We may never again have to face a Storm Sandy situation like we had this past year, but certainly this storm should be thought of as a wake-up call to prepare ourselves for any kind of storm emergency better than we were pre-Storm Sandy. v
Anessa Cohen lives in Cedarhurst and is a licensed real-estate broker and a licensed N.Y.S. mortgage broker with over 20 years of experience, offering full-service residential and commercial real-estate services (Anessa V Cohen Realty) and mortgaging services (First Meridian Mortgage) in the Five Towns and throughout the tri-state area. She can be reached at 516-569-5007 or via her website, www.AVCrealty.com. Readers are encouraged to send questions or comments to anessa.cohen@AVCrealty.com.