The Louisiana Governor’s Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness and the LSU Ag Center have identified eleven hazards known in the state:

  1. Flooding
  2. Hailstorm
  3. Hurricane
  4. Tornado
  5. Ice Storm
  6. Storm Surge
  7. Subsidence
  8. Wildfire
  9. Dam Failure
  10. Levee Failure
  11. Hazardous Materials Incident

Source: getagameplan.org

This home in the Holy Cross Neighborhood of New Orleans suffered massive damage when a pecan tree feel through the house almost cutting it in half and a levee break lead to flooding. Image Credit: NPS|Sarah Marie Jackson.

This home in the Holy Cross Neighborhood of New Orleans suffered massive damage when a pecan tree feel through the house almost cutting it in half and a levee break lead to flooding. Image Credit: NPS|Sarah Marie Jackson.

There are numerous disaster hazards that could impact the residents of Louisiana. While not everyone is threatened by every hazard, everyone is likely at risk for more than one. Fortunately, precautions taken for one type of hazard often provide protection against other hazards.

For hazards involving high winds, to remove trees that are greater in height than in distance from the house, remove potential wind-borne missiles, secure siding or exterior sheathing, secure roofs, and brace gable end roof framing.

Tornadoes bring extremely high winds and the threat of hail. Roofs in poor condition should be retrofitted to withstand potential wind and water damage. Window films that protect glass from shattering during a storm add another layer of protection. This is discussed in greater detail in the section on windows and doors.

For those in area of the state prone to ice storms, be sure the roof is in good repair to lessen the chance of leaks, make sure gutters and downspouts are cleaned out and functioning properly, and trim back any overhanging limbs that could fall on the roof due to the additional weight of the ice.

For wildfires, make sure all electrical systems meet building code, remove branches that overhang the roof, remove trees that are greater in height than in distance from the house, use fire resistant plants around the house, and remove all debris that could be fuel for a fire.

Often, historic homes benefit from having mature trees that provide shade and reduce energy costs. The trees and landscape may themselves be historic features of the site worthy of preservation. If this is the case, actions taken to reduce disaster risks must be balanced with the need to preserve historic character. These decisions inevitably require compromise and must be made on a case-by -case basis.

Dam failures, levee failures, hurricanes, and flooding all involve water and so, will require similar precautions detailed later in this booklet. Elevating or wet floodproofing a building above the Design Flood Elevation (DFE) or Base Flood Elevation (BFE) is recommended to decrease damage from these hazards. Installing a backflow valve in the building’s sewer connection will prevent waste from coming into the home during a flood.

Making sure that a home can structurally withstand flooding and raising utilities above the DFE or BFE will help decrease damage. Strengthening the foundation by bringing it up to or greater than code-required levels helps prepare for storm surges along the coast. Making sure all the components of the building are tied together and anchored properly to the foundation reduces risk from the forces of storm surges, other flooding water, and wind.

What to Consider When Selecting Retrofits

  • What type of disaster is likely to occur?
  • What is the level of threat from these disasters?
  • What is the level of damage from these threats?
  • What impact will possible retrofits have on the historic character or features?
  • Are there alternative options that protect the home from damage, but retain the historic characters or features?

 

This plantation home outside of Natchitoches, LA, suffered damage during a tornado in 2009. The attached kitchen (left) was pushed off its foundation and the metal roof was torn off the house. The underlying material, wooden shakes, did not protect from water infiltration during the storm. Image Credit: NPS|Sarah Marie Jackson.

This plantation home outside of Natchitoches, LA, suffered damage during a tornado in 2009. The attached kitchen (left) was pushed off its foundation and the metal roof was torn off the house. The underlying material, wooden shakes, did not protect from water infiltration during the storm. Image Credit: NPS|Sarah Marie Jackson.

References

Disaster Mitigation for Historic Structures, 1000 Friends of Florida

Disaster Planning for Florida’s Historic Resources, Division of Historical Resources Florida Department of State

Flooding and Historic Buildings- Technical Advice Note, English Heritage

Additional Resources

Coastal Resources for Homeowners, Renter, Business Owners & General Public, FEMA

Dealing with Vegetation and Combustible Materials: Protecting Your Property from Fire, FEMA

Home Builders Guide to Coastal Construction: Technical Fact Sheet Series, FEMA

Homeowners Checklist: How to Make Your Home Fire Safe, California Department of Forestry and Fire protection

Homeowners Guide to Retrofitting: Six Ways to Protect Your Home from Flooding, FEMA


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National Center for Preservation Technology and Training
645 University Parkway
Natchitoches, LA 71457

Email: ncptt[at]nps.gov
Phone: (318) 356-7444
Fax: (318) 356-9119