KYW Regional Affairs Council

“Stormproofing the
Delaware Valley”


By John McDevitt

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Lessons learned from past storms have resulted in stricter building codes and other requirements on the federal, state, and local levels.

Describing structures in flood zones, “FEMA puts a much higher probability of risk assessment on those,” says Mark Celoni, vice president of Pennoni Associates Inc., an engineering and design firm in University City.

Celoni says because coastal homes are vulnerable to storms, building requirements such as elevation and foundation details are set at higher standards.

(Mark Celoni of Pennoni Associates.  Photo provided)

(Mark Celoni of Pennoni Associates. Photo provided)

“They have coastal flood zones, which have to deal with storm surges — rises in water elevation in the ocean from weather events — but also wave action,” Celoni (right) explains.

In the Philadelphia region, he says, codes protect new construction from flooding risks.

“You determine whether your property is in a flood zone or outside of a flood zone.  If you are within a flood zone, there are more restrictive building codes that apply, but you can still in certain instances build in those zones, but one of the building standards is to put your habitable space at least 18 inches above the calculated ‘100-year’ flood elevation.”

Since 2006, every newly constructed building in the city of Philadelphia must have its first inch of storm water “managed” on all impervious areas.

(Chris Crockett of the Philadelphia Water Department.  Credit: John McDevitt)

(Chris Crockett of the Philadelphia Water Department. Credit: John McDevitt)

“They can do a green roof, they can do porous pavement, they can put a cistern under the ground, (or) they can reuse (the runoff),” explains Chris Crockett (right), deputy commissioner of planning and environmental services at the Philadelphia Water Department.

And there are financial benefits, Crockett says.  He says that commercial property owners can see more than 90 percent credit, in some cases, on their storm water bills.

Listen to Part 4…