5 Hurricane Sandy Recovery Advisories FEMA

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) Building Science Branch would like to announce that five Recovery Advisories (RAs) written specifically for areas affected by Hurricane Sandy have been released.  The advisories were produced by FEMA to describe mitigation measures that can be used to minimize future flood damage to buildings. These guidance documents are based on field observations conducted by the FEMA Mitigation Assessment Team (MAT) deployed to evaluate the damage caused by Hurricane Sandy. There will be a total of seven RAs.

The five RAs that have been released can now be accessed and downloaded for free from the FEMA Library at http://www.fema.gov/library/viewRecord.do?id=6994.

Please see below for a description of each advisory.

RA No. 1, Improving Connections in Elevated Coastal Residential Buildings in New York and New Jersey

During the FEMA investigation following Hurricane Sandy, the MAT observed many homes in which the connections between the elevated floor and pile foundation were inadequate in buildings subjected to flood levels that exceeded the top of the foundation. These buildings experienced simultaneous uplift and lateral loads during the storm resulting in damage or failure of those connections. RA No. 1 details how to strengthen the connection so that homes will be more resilient in future flood events. The information in this RA is most useful for new construction, although the same concepts can be applied to retrofits of existing construction.

RA No. 2, Reducing Flood Effects in Critical Facilities

This RA provides information and recommendations for improving the functionality of critical facilities by reducing the vulnerability of essential systems and equipment to flooding. The advisory emphasizes using a holistic approach to review the components of each system, identify vulnerabilities, and then protect those components that are most essential using mitigation measures described in the advisory. The information in this advisory is most useful for new construction, although the concepts can be applied to retrofits of existing construction. Also, although the focus of this advisory is on critical facilities, many of the recommendations can be applied to other types of buildings.

RA No. 3, Restoring Mechanical, Electrical, and Plumbing Systems in Non-Substantially Damaged Residential Buildings

This RA describes methods to restore electrical, mechanical, and plumbing systems in residential buildings in a manner that minimizes damage from future flood events and reduces the system restoration time following future storms. The information in this advisory is intended to address restoration of services for existing houses that are not considered Substantially Damaged and, therefore, may not be required to adhere to current code, which stipulates that such systems be elevated to avoid flood damage.

RA No. 4, Reducing Operational Interruptions to Mid-and High-Rise Buildings During Floods

This RA describes design enhancements that can be made to both existing and planned mid- to high-rise buildings to reduce damage resulting from floodwater inundation and the resulting interruption of functionality during flood events. The advisory describes elevating and floodproofing measures to protect critical building systems, planning and protecting emergency power, and actions that can limit interruptions to building operations.

RA No. 6, Protecting Building Fuel Supplies from Flood Damage

This RA discusses protecting fuel tanks that supply buildings with heat, hot water, and fuel for emergency power systems from flood damage. The primary focus is on protecting tanks that supply fuel for emergency power, but the information is also useful for building managers interested in protecting heating fuel tanks. The advisory describes building codes and standards, mitigation measures that can be used to protect fuel tanks in existing facilities, and design considerations for new fuel tanks. The recommendations in the advisory apply to all buildings, including mid- and high-rise buildings.
Please note that RA No. 5, Designing for Flood Levels Above the BFE after Hurricane Sandy and RA No. 7, Reducing Flood Risk and Flood Insurance Premiums for Existing Buildings, will also be released shortly.

The Hurricane Sandy MAT Report, currently scheduled for completion in September 2013 will present the MAT’s observations, conclusions, and subsequent recommendations based on its post-disaster damage assessments conducted in New Jersey and New York in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The report will include sections on single- and multi-family residential buildings, mid- and high-rise buildings, commercial and critical facilities, and historic structures.

Should you have any questions or comments related to the Hurricane Sandy RAs, please contact John Ingargiola of the Building Science Branch (john.ingargiola@fema.dhs.gov) or the Building Science Helpline (866)- 927-2104 or FEMA-Buildingsciencehelp@fema.dhs.gov).

Please visit the Building Science Branch homepage for additional multi-hazard mitigation information and resources. Be sure to also visit Hurricane Sandy – Building Science Activities & Resources.