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Living along the Massachusetts coast has lots of perks — plenty of sunshine, fresh sea air, and a beach within walking distance to name a few.

However, it’s important to be aware of coastal storm hazards such as flooding, erosion, and more.

The Office of Coastal Zone Management’s (CZM) StormSmart Coasts program provides information, strategies, and tools to help you protect your property and stay safe.

Preparing Your Coastal Home for Storms

If you’re a coastal homeowner, don’t wait for a storm to strike. Assess the vulnerability of your property to address storm damage risks and take action ahead of time. There are a few different ways to protect your home:

  • Landscaping — Landscaping your property can help prevent erosion and storm damage. The roots of plants hold sand and other sediment in place, which helps secure the area where they’re planted. Plants also absorb water, break the impact of raindrops or wave-splash, and slow water running over the ground, all of which helps decrease erosion. CZM’s Coastal Landscaping site shares tips for planting and maintaining erosion-control plants, along with sample coastal landscaping plans, and photos and descriptions of some of the best plants for coastal landscaping in Massachusetts.
  • Sand Fencing Sand fencing helps build up dunes to protect inland areas. It’s a low-cost and easy-to-install way to prevent storm damage to your home.
  • Runoff Control — Runoff is water that flows over the ground instead of soaking into the soil or evaporating. Runoff can erode coastal banks, dunes, and beaches, so help control it by:
    • Removing or reducing surfaces that don’t absorb water, like concrete and pavement
    • Regrading surfaces so water flows away from areas that are likely to erode
    • Watering your lawn less so the soil can absorb extra water
  • Home Elevation — By raising your home above predicted flood levels, a process called freeboard, you can reduce the risk of storm damage and flooding. It can also help you lower the cost of your flood insurance.

Check out CZM’s fact sheets and the homeowner’s handbook to learn about other ways to prepare your home for coastal storms.

Permits

Make sure you follow Massachusetts’ construction standards when building or repairing your coastal property, including who to contact for the permits you’ll need for coastal construction. In some cases, you may also need coastal landscaping permits, so check with your local Conservation Commission before starting a project.

Flood Insurance

Most home insurance policies don’t cover flooding, so consider flood insurance to help cover the cost of storm damage. Find out if your municipality is one of the participating communities in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP). If it is, you may be eligible for the NFIP’s affordable insurance offers. NFIP also offers a cost of flooding tool to help you measure potential flood damage to your home and find an insurance agent.

Storm Tracking

Tracking hurricanes, thunderstorms, or tropical storms that could strike the Bay State is an important part of protecting your home. Download Massachusetts Alerts, the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency’s (MEMA) free app, to get emergency notifications and information about storms on your smartphone.

With the right preparation, you can protect your coastal property and help avoid costly storm repairs.

Share this post with friends and family who have coastal property so they can protect their homes from storm damage. Comment below or tweet @MassGov with questions.

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