protecting from storm surge with sandbags

You can try to protect your home from storm surge with sandbags, like homeowner Marc Murphy (seen here) did in preparation for Hurricane Irene in August, 2011.

Joe Raedle/Getty Images

What You Can Do To Protect Your Property From Storm Surge

We've all seen the images. Perhaps you have been one of the millions who had to evacuate an area because of rising water. Maybe you lost your home when the water moved inland. Was there anything that you could have done to protect your property? Probably not.

Water goes where it wants to go. It can breach levees, pound dams into rubble and overwhelm seawalls. While it might seem that fighting a storm surge is a David and Goliath battle, there are steps you can take to minimize the impact of flooding. For one thing, you can try to protect your home's foundation with sandbags. You should place the sandbags not only around the foundation, but also near any vents or openings. You can also use aluminum or glass flood panels around vents [source: Lavernia and Smart].

Water will travel to the lowest available point. That's why basements flood. Basements are sort of like a bulwark against flood waters damaging the rest of the house. To a certain extent, the basement is meant to flood. If your neighborhood is prone to flooding of any type, you should elevate the furnace, water heater and electrical panel. Seal the basement walls with waterproof compounds. Install backflow plugs and valves to prevent water from getting into the rest of the home. These devices can stop toilets, shower stalls, baths and sinks from becoming geysers of fetid water. Also, know how to turn off the electricity and other utilities [source: Willis].

And know your property. Are you in an area that is prone to storm-surge damage? Have your neighbors experienced such flooding in the past? If you live in a storm-surge zone, be prepared. Storm surges can strike at any time. Know the evacuation route. Know how to contact family members. Make sure the basement windows are closed and your car is fueled. Keep an inventory of all your property. Make sure you have everything you need in an emergency supply kit. Include changes of clothes, battery-powered radios, batteries and flashlights [source: Public Safety Emergency Preparedness Canada].

Perhaps the best thing you can do to protect your property from flooding of any type is to buy flood insurance. Storm surge flooding is not covered by most homeowner's policies. The wrath of Mother Nature is powerful, but there are things you can do to fight back.