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FEMA Encourages You to Rebuild Safer and Stronger

January 18, 2017

Make a Plan to Rebuild Your Home Stronger and Safer

DURHAM, N.C. – As important as it is to make home repairs as soon as possible following a natural disaster, it’s also important to take some time to plan the job, including adding mitigation measures to make your home stronger and safer.

The first step of your plan should be to check with your local permit or building official.

As you invest time and money, following all local and state requirements will make repairs safer and may lower the cost of flood insurance. These officials also may provide information about programs that help offset the cost of repairs. 

Here are some other ideas you may want to consider putting in your plan.

Reduce Future Damage from Disasters:

  • Consider building materials that are more resistant to flood, wind, corrosion and decay.
  • Raise electrical outlets. Consider moving outlets up at least one foot above the minimum flood level or 24 inches above floor level. This helps keep water from infiltrating and damaging an electrical outlet, which can cause damage to an electrical system and normally requires an electrician to repair/replace.
  • When replacing drywall, leave a ½-inch to 1-inch gap between the bottom of the drywall sheeting and the top level of the floor. Cover the gap with baseboard. This technique helps keep water from coming into contact with drywall in a low-level floor. When water meets drywall, it wicks up into the wallboard, which can lead to mold if left untreated.
  • If siding or roof sheathing needs replacement, consider increasing the strength of the structure by installing hurricane/seismic connectors at the rafter-to-wall or truss-to-wall connections. Adding wall-to-foundation ties may also be possible.
  • Following a high-wind event, windows, doors and skylights should be checked for leaks. If they need replacement, consider impact-resistant units.
  •  Inspect soffits to determine if structural upgrades are necessary. Soffit failures are common during storms and damage is often experienced in attics due to water being blown in through soffits.
  • Check your attic for adequate insulation. Also consider adding straps to rafters across the ridge beam. Straps should be added from rafters to wall top plates, and gable end-wall framing should be braced.
  • FEMA Disaster Recovery Centers offer mitigation information. The centers are located in Fayetteville, Lumberton and Tarboro. In addition, mitigation specialists set up displays and can provide advice at local government and community facilities each week. Locations vary from week to week, so check your local newspaper to find a location near you.
  • Go to for a variety of booklets to help do-it-yourselfers.

Can’t do the Work Yourself? Select Your Contractor Carefully:

If you lack the skills to repair or rebuild your home, you may want to hire a contractor. The North Carolina Attorney General advises watching out for home improvement scammers who cruise through neighborhoods going from door to door saying they have leftover materials or that they noticed your home was damaged and they can repair it.

Take some time to choose your contractor.

  • Look for a contractor with an established physical address.
  • Get bids from more than one person. Make sure they are in writing and look for detail about exactly what will be done. You may wish to specify certain kinds (grades or thickness) of materials to be used.
  • Beware of a low-ball bidder whose price is much lower than everyone else’s. Question the quality of the materials to be used and the work that will be done.
  • Ask for and contact references.
  • Make sure the contractor has the proper licenses and insurance coverage required in North Carolina.
  • Contractors normally ask for a partial payment in advance. Never pay the full price in advance.

If you have not yet registered with FEMA be sure to do so before the 11:59 p.m. Monday,      Jan. 23 deadline. How to register:

  • Online at
  • Call the FEMA Helpline at 800-621-3362 for voice, 711 and Video Relay Service. If you are deaf, hard of hearing or have a speech disability and use a TTY, call 800-462-7585.
  • Download the FEMA Mobile App and apply.

For more information on North Carolina’s recovery, visit and Follow FEMA on Twitter at @femaregion4 and North Carolina Emergency Management @NCEmergency.

Disaster recovery assistance is available without regard to race, color, religion, nationality, sex, age, disability, English proficiency or economic status. If you or someone you know has been discriminated against, call FEMA toll-free at 800-621-3362 or TTY at 800-462-7585.

FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain, and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from, and mitigate all hazards. Follow FEMA on twitter at @femaregion4. Download the FEMA app with tools and tips to keep you safe before, during, and after disasters.


Dial 2-1-1 or 888-892-1162 to speak with a trained call specialist about questions you have regarding Hurricane Matthew; the service is free, confidential and available in any language. They can help direct you to resources. Call 5-1-1 or 877-511-4662 for the latest road conditions or check the ReadyNC mobile app, which also has real-time shelter and evacuation information. For updates on Hurricane Matthew impacts and relief efforts, go to or follow N.C. Emergency Management on Twitter and Facebook. People or organizations that want to help ensure North Carolina recovers can visit or text NCRecovers to 30306.

 The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps homeowners, renters, businesses of all sizes, and private non-profit organizations fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and cover the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property. These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations. For more information, applicants may contact SBA’s Customer Service Center by calling (800) 659-2955, emailing, or visiting SBA’s Web site at Deaf and hard-of-hearing individuals may call (800) 877-8339.

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