After the Flood

January/February 2003
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2003 issue of Home Energy Magazine.
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January 01, 2003
Since people continue to build - and rebuild - their houses in flood prone areas, finding the materials that hold up best after flooding could save energy and money and keep tons of material out of landfills.
        The extensive flooding that took place last fall in the southeastern United States brought attention once again to a persistent problem. Floods and flooding result in more damage to buildings throughout the United States than any other natural cause. Since 1990, property damage in the United States related to flooding alone is estimated to have exceeded $30 billion, and millions of people have been left homeless. Homeowners are discouraged from constructing new homes in flood-prone areas, but where existing homes are flooded and must be repaired, the damage from future flooding will be minimized through the use of materials and methods for renovation that resist flood damage.         To identify the materials and methods that floodproof a house, the Residential Group of Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)’s Buildings Technology Center, in conjunction with Tuskegee University’s College of Engineering,Architecture, and Physical Sciences, is flooding and then testing typical residential building envelopes.         Because reproducing flood conditions in actual residential structures would be extremely expensive and impractical,we instead designed small prototypical test structures—8 ft x 8 ft modules placed in outdoor basins ...

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