This is the story about my home in the suburbs of New York City (Westchester County), where I live with my husband and three children. It floods. I don’t think I need to convince anybody about the downside to flooding. Ever used a garden hose to wash the mud off the interior walls of your family room? We’ve decided to fight back against Mother Nature by elevating our house.
This site will take you through the steps of our lift as well as offer other options for homeowners impacted by recurrent flooding, or in insurance speak “severe repetitive flooding.” Although I never set out to become an “expert” on this topic, through the years I’ve learned an extensive amount. Hopefully you will find some of it useful to your situation
For those of you stopping by out of curiosity – enjoy! For those flood weary homeowners looking for some solutions of their own, I hope this helps.
Feel free to look around, post a comment or pose a question to us at:
Before Leonardo DiCaprio started sending me letters about saving the polar bear habitat and before Al Gore won his Nobel Peace Prize for his erudition on climate change, we bought a house whose mortgage was contingent upon securing flood insurance. At the time we had two little boys, a new home with my sought after fenced in backyard and no idea why we needed to have flood insurance. Yes, there was a little brook across the street from us, behind my neighbor’s house, but our realtor assured us that there hadn’t been any flooding in years.
So while my husband began his due diligence, questioning the neighbors about prior flooding incidents, I called the local police department for my own concerns. Were there any registered pedophiles living on the street where we were preparing to raise our two little boys? When my husband finished gathering his data we learned that it had not flooded in our area in close to 30 years AND that the flooding had been mitigated – so it was no longer an issue. All the same, the bank still insisted that we purchase the flood insurance. As it was relatively inexpensive, we didn’t think much more about it. At least I didn’t.
I was focused on the good news from the police about the lack of molesters prowling around. I should probably mention that the police officer had a good laugh when I asked him about it. The area we live in is a bucolic suburb replete with tree-lined streets, great schools, shopping boutiques and a neighborhood ice-cream parlor all the children like to walk to after school.
FLOOD #1: The first time we flooded, September 2004, was a flash flood incident. I remember a police officer knocking on my front door suggesting I move our cars from the driveway before the street flooded. Really? We were amazed at how high the idyllic looking brook across the street could rise. Our flooding was relatively minimal, but we learned about submitting flood insurance claims and had all of our basement mechanicals replaced.
FLOOD #2: The second time we flooded, March 2007, we were caught off guard. It was late winter and the ground was frozen, so the heavy rains had no pervious ground to absorb it. This flood invaded our mudroom. The basement mechanicals were replaced again.
FLOOD #3: Six weeks later, April 2007, Mother Nature served up a drenching Nor’easter and we suffered extensive flooding. This flood poured into our family room as well as hitting the mudroom again while the remaining first floor was impacted from the floodwater seeping through the floor registers.
LAST STRAW: In August 2011, we endured Hurricane Irene followed nine days later by her punk-ass little brother, Tropical Depression Lee. Lee did not get us, but did get the neighbors across the street living closest to the aforementioned wolf-in-sheep’s-clothing brook. This back-to-back event was the definitive moment for me. Tap me out – I’m done.
We’ve had numerous close calls, too many reverse 9-1-1 calls to count, and have occasionally gone to bed with a Minuteman outfit ready to go – just in case there’s a pounding on the door at 2:00 am followed by a yell of, “Move your cars!”
Suffice it to say that the flooding issue has definitely NOT been mitigated. Along with a healthy respect for Mother Nature and the exact amount of drywall it takes to rebuild my mudroom (my lowest lying room), I’ve learned more than I ever thought I’d know or ever wanted to learn about floods, flood insurance, flood preparation, flood recovery, and flood proofing options.
After considering the obvious option – moving to a new house – for various reasons we’ve decided to stay. The only viable option remaining for our circumstance was to lift our house. This option is not for everyone. It’s not easy. It’s certainly not cheap. But it is effective. So here it is – the ins and outs, the ups and downs – The Art of the Lift.
*We began our planning phase in July 2012. Super Storm Sandy hit that October. In our neighborhood this was more of a wind event than rain so were spared additional flooding – this time. However, it was a pretty impressive motivator.