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Building for a Better Future
Our beloved town, Millburn, was awfully hit by hurricane Ida. There was extensive damage to the downtown area, and, more than a week after the storm, we are still seeing closed stores and repair crews. From my background in architecture, planning and construction, I want to offer some thoughts.
With all my respect, the silver lining might be to see this as a good opportunity to plan ahead, so when the next storm comes (and it will come), our community is better prepared, hopefully suffers less damage and can mitigate the damage by being back up and running sooner than on this occasion.
I believe this is a time to think wisely and to repair intelligently. Here are my thoughts to maybe start a conversation and some tips that may come handy… What I post here is my humble opinion, with no intention to have an angry match of any kind. Not everyone will agree, and I can live very happily with this fact. I will not be readding nasty comments. Please take my word with a grain of salt, or two.
We have two distinct areas to tackle: Community and Individual
At a community level:
• It could be helpful to organize different pre-set teams of neighbors, who would then be prepared to jump into action very fast, with assigned areas of responsibility and action, so that the work is done in a much better and faster way. This happened organically a few times, but something more planned could be a good thing.
• Set up a strategy to identify (now, before the next storm) potential shelter places, like churches, temples, public offices, the movie theater, shopping areas, etc., so the victims of the next storm know where to go, when, who to call, etc. If this plan already exists, I have never heard of it. So we need to educate and be educated on this plans.
• Have in place a group of people that gets activated when a critical event is on its way. Educate neighbors in flood prone areas on how to prepare.
• On a larger scale, it may be smart to evaluate the need to build some infrastructure to better protect the areas that we know are more prone to be impacted. We may want our town officials to actively engage in seeking infrastructure studies to alleviate the problem for the future.
At the individual level:
I strongly suggest neighbors to prepare their house by upgrading and/or remodeling their home thinking for the next event. Because it is happening, climate change is disrupting all our lives.
For that, here are some tips that may help mitigate the recovery:
• Make sure to install some form of forced ventilation system to help dry the space: Air conditioning helps, fresh air flow is a much better option. A constant flow of fresh air will make it more difficult for mold to grow.
• Plan to install/replace/add windows around your basement walls that can provide natural ventilation.
• If you have French drains and sump pumps, check them regularly to make sure they are optimized.
Invest in waterproofing your home. Yes, it is expensive, but it will be a add on value to your home and may help with flood insurance costs.
• In low areas that are prone to floods, rethink your furniture choices for pieces that can easily be elevated from the floor. This will diminish the loss of property and clean up time.
• Choose materials that dry faster and are friendlier for when these situations happen: remove carpets, replace them with ceramic, good quality vinyl or polished cement floor. Those are more resistant and less prone to grow mold when combined with a good ventilation system.
• Do not collect clutter: excessive clutter is you enemy in a flood event! Do you know that is 3 times more expensive to clean up and replace after?
• Remember that the objective is to alleviate the post flood trauma by being proactive and make better choices.
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