Protecting Your Property


The earthquake risk for Virginia Beach is extremely low, however, for additional information on what to do and how to be prepared, visit the FEMA Earthquakes site


Floods may be caused by hurricanes, broken levees, outdated or clogged drainage systems or rapid accumulation of rainfall. Flood risk isn't just based on history alone. Several factors contribute to your flood risk: rainfall, river-flow and tidal-surge, topography, flood-control measures, and changes due to building and development. 

​​The FEMA Flood Program offers tips for protecting your home, assessing your flood risk and purchasing the appropriate flood insurance.
  • If water enters a garage/basement, be cautious. It may contain hazardous materials.
  • Do not try to drive over a flooded roads. If your vehicle stalls, get out and leave it there. Attempting to move a stalled vehicle in flood conditions can prove fatal.
  • If you must evacuate, disconnect all electrical appliances before evacuating and shut off electric circuits. If advised by your local utility, shut off gas service as well.
  • Do not walk through moving water. Just six inches of rushing water can cause you to fall. If you must walk through water, try to find still patches and use a stick to check the firmness of the ground before you step.
  • Avoid water that is in contact with downed power lines
  • Do not allow children to play around high water, storm drains or flooded areas

Man​made Disasters (Terrorism / Bombs)

A terrorist attack may involve  chemical agents, biological hazards, a radiological or nuclear device or other explosives. The primary objective of a terrorist is to create widespread fear. A few things you can do:

Before a threat:

  • Be aware of your surroundings. Note the locations of emergency exits, pay phones, fire alarms and fire extinguishers.
  • Report any suspicious objects, vehicles or individuals to public-safety authorities.

In the event of an attack:

  • Be vigilant. Look for secondary hazards such as falling debris.
  • Follow the instructions of emergency service personnel.
  • Avoid spreading rumors, confirm information with a credible source first.

Read the Southside Hampton Roads Hazard Mitigation Plan.

Hurricanes, Tornadoes, and High Winds

Plywood and sawHurricane Season runs June 1-November 30. The city urges all homeowners to take the necessary steps to protect their property from the strong winds and flooding that hurricanes and tropical storms can bring to our shores. Early planning and preparation are key to ensuring the safety of your family and protecting your property as much as possible. 


  • Understand your home’s hurricane risk. Find out if your home is subject to storm surge or inland flooding using these maps.
  • Keep a record of your personal property. An itemized list of furniture, clothing and valuables will assist adjusters if you need to make a claim. Back it up with photographs or video.
  • Protect your insurance policies and other important documents in a secure place like a safe deposit box or a water-tight box.
  • Clear clogged rain gutters. Hurricanes/tropical storms often bring heavy rain. Providing clear drainage will help prevent misdirected flooding.
  • Learn to safely shut off utilities, as well as where gas pilots and water mains are located.
  • Lock doors and windows to ensure that they are closed tight to help protect against strong winds and rain.
  • Buy Flood Insurance. Unlike damage from hurricane winds, water damage from coastal or inland flooding is not covered by homeowners insurance. Contact your local insurance agent or contact the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP).
  • Make plans to secure your property. Permanent storm shutters offer the best protection for windows. A second option is to board up windows with 5/8” marine plywood, cut to fit and ready to install. Tape does not prevent windows from breaking. Make temporary plywood covers to protect windows and sliding doors. Drill holes for screws or lag bolts in each cover and around each window. Use a numbering or lettering system that shows which cover goes with which window. Store the mounting screws or lag bolts with the covers in a place where they are readily accessible. To reduce roof damage, install straps or additional clips to securely fasten your roof to the frame structure.

Yards & Pools 

  • Deck with tableOutdoor Furnishings & Plants Need to Come Inside. Make a list of outdoor items to bring inside in case of a storm, such as lawn furniture, trash barrels, hanging plants, toys and awnings. A list will help you more quickly identify anything that can be broken or picked up by strong winds and used as a missile. For heavier outdoor objects that can't easily be brought inside, anchor them to something solid with rope, chains, etc.
  • Do Not Drain Your Swimming Pool. Pool owners often believe that draining their pools or spas before a storm hits will keep it from overflowing and flooding their property, but properly installed pools should be equipped with overflows that will drain excess water. If you decide to lower the water level, don't remove any more than 1-2 feet. Otherwise, the hydrostatic pressure can be too strong, possibly causing the pool to "float" or "pop" out of the ground. Pool water also serves as a kind of shield, protecting the finish from the effects of flying debris.
  • Turn Off Power to the Pool Equipment. The most significant storm damage to your pool can occur with the pump and its motor. Turn off the circuit breaker to the pool equipment (pump, motor, lighting, chlorinators, etc.). Remove the motor and relocate it to a high-and-dry place inside, away from water and flooding. Another solution for saving the pump's motor: tightly wrap it with plastic and strapping tape or rope.
  • Don't Forget Other Pool Parts. If you have time, remove all loose items from the pool area, including filter house tops, deck lid of filter, etc.
  • Keep trees and shrubbery around your home trimmed. Remove diseased or damaged tree limbs that could be blown down during a storm.
  • Make sure storage sheds or other outbuildings are securely anchored, either to a permanent foundation or with straps and ground anchors.


Black carBetween rising floodwaters, flying debris and the intense air pressure that can develop during a hurricane, your car is vulnerable when disaster strikes. Although most insurance policies cover this sort of damage, a little bit of prevention may be able to help you avoid filing a claim in the first place. Use these guidelines for protecting your car in the event of a hurricane.

  • Check your car's fluids like gas, oil and water before parking it. Your car should be ready to go after the storm. Gas station fuel pumps will not operate without electricity.
  • Remove important documents from the vehicle like the car's title or insurance papers.
  • Take out DVD players and any equipment or accessories that are removable.
  • Park on high ground. Avoid low-lying areas that tend to flood.
  • Position the car parallel to a building to give it some protection.
  • If you must evacuate, never drive through standing water that is more than 6 inches deep; it could cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Don’t assume that standing water on any road is shallow; it might be covering a sinkhole or another hazard.
  • If possible, keep your car in a garage, if not, keep it covered. Although the most obvious damage to a car from a hurricane is on the outside, the inner mechanisms can also be effected. If water gets inside your vehicle and engine, your electrical wiring can be corroded quickly by salt water damage, and your engine as well.
  • Make sure the car is away from anything that might fall on it during a storm--telephone poles, tree limbs, signs, etc.
  • Remove exterior items that aren't permanent (i.e. extra antennas, magnetic signs, bike racks or any other car accessory that is temporarily mounted).
  • When the storm has passed, check the car to see if there is any damage. Take photos in case you have to file an insurance claim, and consider having a mechanic look over the vehicle just to make sure all the internal components still work properly.


  • NEVER attempt to ride out a storm on your boat. Boat and couple
  • Have everything needed to secure your boat (i.e. extra lines, chafe protection, fenders, anchors, port plugs, duct tape and extra batteries) on hand as they may be difficult  to find once a hurricane is imminent. 
  • Remove anything that can become loose during the storm including unstepping the mast in sailboats.
  • Remove boat documents, radios and other valuables. You never know how long it will take for you to get back to your boat once the storm passes.
  • Determine in advance where you’ll keep your boat in the event of a hurricane and how you’ll get it there.
  • If you decide to mov​e your boat, do so before a hurricane watch is posted, as bridges may be closed or the place that you wanted to keep your boat is inaccessible. Marinas are busy prior to hurricanes and may not be able to store your boat.
  • Boats stored ashore are more likely to survive a hurricane than boats in the water. If you store your boat ashore, store it well above the anticipated storm surge and move it out of high-rise storage racks, which are vulnerable in high wind.
  • It is best to store your boat in a garage, however, if you must leave your boat on a trailer, remove anything that could blow away.
  • Park the trailer near a building and lash it down with chains or heavy ropes, away from objects that could fall on it.  Secure your boat and trailer to strong trees or a "deadman" anchor. Strip off every thing that could be torn loose by a strong wind.
  • Add weight to the boat by filling no more than halfway with fresh water and leaving in the drainplug. Overfilling could damage the trailer. Insert wood blocks between the trailer frame and springs for extra support.
  • Remove outboard motors.
  • Release some of the air in the tires and place blocks beneath the wheels to prevent the trailer from moving. Increase the weight of your trailered outboard boat by filling it with fresh water and leaving in the drainplug (inboard boats must be drained to avoid motor damage).
  • If securing your boat at the marina: Use the "Spiderweb" technique. Boats left in boat slips should be secured by ropes in an arrangement that resembles a spiderweb. This allows boats to be bounced around by a storm yet still remain in position.
  • If you can't remove your boat from the water, move it to the safest refuge possible. Be aware that a seawall or sandy spit that normally protects a snug harbor can be washed out by the storm surge. The best anchoring is usually found in sand, followed by clay, hard mud, shells, broken shells and soft mud.
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