Four Ways to Flood-Proof Your Home

There’s a number of measures that residents of Metro Manila can do to protect their homes from floods. However, these measures are aimed at preventing the damage caused by floodwaters to a house or building, and not to prevent the occurrence of floods.

When Typhoon Ketsana (local name: Ondoy) struck the Philippines in 2009, no one had foreseen the devastation it would cause. Sustaining wind speeds of just 130 km/hour, the typhoon seemed like an average typhoon that affects the Philippines 16 or so times a year.

However, Metro Manila residents were caught off guard when the flooding came, which reached more than 20 feet high in low-lying areas, such as the cities of Marikina and Pasig located in the eastern fringes of the metropolis. The typhoon left entire villages inundated for weeks, the Philippine capital’s transport links paralyzed, 747 fatalities, and an estimated damage worth $1.09 billion.

After the calamity there’s been discussion on mitigating the impact of flooding to Metro Manila. It is a pressing concern, especially when monsoon flooding is becoming an annual occurrence in Metro Manila. The metro’s residents live in constant fear that their houses will get inundated anytime, which isn’t far-fetched, as the city lies in floodplain that is on average lower than sea level.

But thankfully there is a number of measures that Metro Manila residents can do to protect their homes from floods. It must be made clear, however, that these measures—called “flood-proofing”—are generally aimed at preventing the damage caused by floodwaters to a house or building, and not to prevent the occurrence of floods.

Lamudi lists four ways to flood-proof your home, which will surely help minimize the damage of floodwater to your home after a severe storm or heavy monsoon downpour.

 

1. Elevating Your Home

The first of the three “dry flood-proofing” methods, elevating your house to a level higher than the expected water depth is perhaps the most effective way to prevent the impact of floods (think of houses on stilts above water). Unfortunately, though, this is costly and not always possible. Houses made with concrete foundations, which is common in the Philippines, are firmly held in place, so it is not possible to elevate them. Hence, the second form of elevation comes to mind, which is placing valuable items and electrical devices above the floodwater level. Stowing away these items in overhead shelves and cupboards, or if possible in the house’s second floor, can protect them from water damage.

 

2. Creating Barriers

These barriers, which can be made of earth, sandbags, concrete masonry, or even steel, can prevent floodwaters from entering an area; hence, this measure can protect more than one structure. In high-density urban areas, concrete floodwalls are used as they take up less room and they can protect multiple homes. However, the effectiveness of barriers depends on the quality of materials used and their maintenance over the years.

 

3. Ensuring a Watertight Structure

Another way to prevent floodwater from entering a property is ensuring that the structure is substantially watertight or at least its walls, up until the expected level of floodwater, are impermeable. Ways to achieve this include painting the walls with a waterproofing compound, sealing the walls with plastic sheeting or impermeable membranes, additional layer of masonry, and installing watertight shields. But according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, these methods are only appropriate for structures that are strong enough to withstand the pressure from more than 3 feet of water. This is because water levels that are higher than this may cause concrete walls and floors to crack or break. In this case wet flood-proofing may be the more appropriate measure.

 

4. Wet Flood-Proofing

In the case of very severe flooding, wet flood-proofing measures may be the more appropriate option, as most houses cannot withstand water depths more than 3 feet. This involves letting the water in to minimize the load on walls and floors. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), although this method will not allow residents to continue living in their house during the deluge, it will make it much quicker and easier for them to clean up and repair flood damage.

In addition, wet flood-proofing measures also involve elevating electrical devices and wood furniture above floodwater level, and rebuilding or reinforcing the house with materials that cannot be easily damaged by floodwater.

But perhaps the most effective way of reducing the impact of floods to your home is to choose your area wisely. Indeed an average house in a flood-free zone is still better than a palatial one sitting on an area that experiences annual flooding.

There are several areas within Metro Manila identified to be flood-free, although real estate in these areas commands a premium. However, buying from here may be one of the best investment decisions you can make.

 

Popular Flood-Free Areas in Metro Manila

 

1. Bonifacio Global City, Taguig

Image via Wikimedia Commons
Image via Wikimedia Commons

A vast mixed-use township sitting on a former military camp, Bonifacio Global City (BGC) features a detention basin that can hold millions of gallons of water. This structure ensures that BGC remains flood-free and its residents dry even during the worst of monsoon rains.

 

2. Rockwell Center, Makati

Rockwell Center
Image via Wikimedia Commons

Although Rockwell Center lacks detention basin similar to BGC’s, its developer employed a development process that was mindful of its surroundings. Strategies include multiple drainage lines to ease the flow of water and commissioning a 100-year flood cycle study to enable the company to gauge the property’s elevation and to craft a suitable plan for the area.

 

3. Greenhills, San Juan

Greenhills
Image via Wikimedia Commons

This residential and commercial complex covers 197 hectares of land that’s slightly higher than its surrounding areas. It has a gated community, top schools, churches, hospitals, and shopping centers. It is also the location of Club Filipino, where democracy leader Cory Aquino was inaugurated as president in 1986.

 

4. Alabang, Muntinlupa

Alabang
Image via Wikimedia Commons

One of the nine barangays that comprise Muntinlupa City, Metro Manila’s southernmost suburb, Alabang was once a farmland that has experienced massive transformation since the early 1990s. Part of the affluent enclave Ayala Alabang are within the barangay, so is the entire Filinvest City, a mixed-use township developed by Filinvest Corp.

 

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