Reinforcing Existing Homes to Resist Flood and Wind Damage

Floods November 04, 2015 Print Friendly and PDF

Section of house is mostly gone, with blue tarp on roof and bricks scattered around


Identify methods that are used in reinforcing and strengthening existing and new house structures to protect against water and wind damage.


How can I protect my home from flood, wind, and wave action damage?

Options to protect your home from future damage or to reduce the damage include:

  • Reinforcing the structure against wind and water surge to reduce water entry
  • Selecting and using construction materials that will resist water and mold and reduce damage; using construction systems that will resist water and mold to reduce damage

For more information about keeping a house intact by reinforcing and strengthening an existing or new structure against wind, water, and flooding, click on the following strategies:

  1. Preventing lift off by the roof or its components
  2. Preventing or reducing house structure shift and damage from flood or wind forces and water surges
  3. Keeping out water, wind, and debris


Water and wind damage

Photo courtesy of Soni Cochran, Lancaster County Extension, University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Heavy rains, flooding, and hurricanes do major damage to homes every year. Hurricanes, straight-line and high winds, downbursts, fast-moving water, and tornadoes damage houses throughout the U.S. These forces increase the risk of water entry and can cause interior water damage. Strengthen a home's ability to resist flooding and water entry by employing techniques that are resistant to water, wind, and hurricanes.

Most of us live in areas that are susceptible to high wind damage. Wind-driven rains cause major water damage in U.S. homes each year. Wind speeds in the U.S. range from up to 130 miles per hour in Wind Zone I to 250 miles per hour in Wind Zone IV. High winds can rip off shingles, pull off roofs, topple buildings, or drive rain into buildings, resulting in more water damage. To determine the wind zone for a particular area, visit

Reinforcing existing homes can reduce potential damage from future storms. However, winds, hurricanes, tornadoes, and floods create pressure differences along with unusual current forces and debris. It is hard to predict what will happen to a structure and the damage it will sustain. It is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to disaster-proof a home.

Contact the local housing inspector and building code officials for information about local codes and requirements before starting a reinforcing project. Talk with local or area disaster management officials about recommended practices for the area. Consult a structural or architectural engineer and examine the resources listed at the end of this fact sheet for more information. Seek licensed qualified contractors to undertake the jobs if you are not qualified to perform the work.

Inspect the home's exterior and interior for weak points where water could enter and wind damage could occur. Fasteners and component connections are critical to resisting water and wind forces. Start at the roof and attic and go to the foundation. Pay special attention to areas where water or wind could get inside.

Inspecting the home now and taking steps to reduce damage can prevent some of the potential damage caused by flooding and hurricanes. Reinforce the structure now to resist flood, water, wind, and debris damage.

More Resources

Federal Emergency Management Agency. Home Builder's Guide to Coastal Construction. Asphalt Shingle Roofing for High-Wind Regions. Technical Fact Sheet #20, Aug. 2005.

Federal Emergency Management Agency. Home Builder’s Guide to Coastal Construction. Roof Sheathing Installation. Technical Fact Sheet #18.

Federal Emergency Management Agency. Home Builder's Guide to Coastal Construction. Roof Underlayment for Asphalt Shingle Roofs. Technical Fact Sheet #19.

Federal Emergency Management Agency. Home Builder's Guide to Coastal Construction.Storm-Resistant Roofing.

Federal Emergency Management Agency. Home Builder’s Guide to Coastal Construction. Use of Connectors and Brackets. Technical Fact Sheet #17.

Federal Emergency Management Agency. Homeowner's Guide to Retrofitting: Six Ways to Protect Your House from Flooding, Chapters 3 and 7.

Institute of Business & Home Safety.

Livengood, Sherry Aglan, Heshmat. (2003). After the Flood. Home Energy.

Parker, D. (2006). Post-Hurricane Opportunities. Hurricane Season. Home Energy, pp. 38-40.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Durability by Design: A Guide for Residential Builders and Designers.

For more information on recommendations for a specific zip code area, visit the Institute of Business and Home Safety Web site.


Connect with us

  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest
  • Google+


This is where you can find research-based information from America's land-grant universities enabled by



Video and Audio Files on preparedness and recovery.
Money Management in Times of Disaster Learn what you can do about your finances.
Disaster Preparedness Make sure your family is prepared.

The Extension Disaster Education Network website provides additional resources for Extension educators.


This work is supported by the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture, New Technologies for Ag Extension project.