10th Anniversary of Tropical Storm Lee: Waterproofing Success Stories

If you lived in Maryland, Virginia, DC, southern Pennsylvania, or Delaware in September of 2011, you probably remember Tropical Storm Lee. And you don’t have fond memories. The storm first formed over the Gulf Coast, and due to its large and drifting nature, it dumped feet of rain wherever it went.

Once Lee made his way to the Mid-Atlantic states, it sat here and deluged the area, causing historic flooding of streams and creeks, and yes, basements. The rainfall from Tropical Storm Lee came immediately after Hurricane Irene had already saturated the ground.

In northern Virginia, 4 people died from drowning in the floodwaters. In addition, the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) estimated floodwaters caused nearly $10 million in damage to roads and bridges in northern Virginia alone.

The National Weather Service (NWS) reported record rainfall in the Maryland/DC area as well, shattering rainfall records at BWI for several days in a row. In many places, rain fell at a rate of more than 3 inches an hour.

The result was millions of dollars of damage to roads, bridges, homes, and businesses throughout the area. If you lived here at that time, either you or someone you know was affected by the heavy rainfall and flooding from Tropical Storm Lee.

Basement Waterproofing Held Up – for the Most Part

The team here at Value Dry Waterproofing worked some long hours during Tropical Storm Lee, and in the aftermath. Owner Jim Ketterer says “This was the busiest time I ever remember in the history of the company.  I personally ran service calls and swapped out broken sump pumps for 5 days straight.  We saved a bunch of basements from flooding for sure but there were overwhelmed sump pumps as well.”

We replaced failed sump pumps under warranty and installed battery backup sump pumps for people who experienced flooding because they didn’t have one. We installed more powerful sump pumps and redundant sump pumps for people whose pumps were overwhelmed.

And in the next days and weeks, we installed new basement waterproofing systems for customers who had had flooding whether they had an existing waterproofing system or not. Many homeowners learned that their builder installed a sump pump and drainage system installed in the 80s or 90s were insufficient and that they couldn’t keep up with a big storm in 2011.

Some of those homeowners still keep in touch, and still have a dry basement, thanks to Value Dry.

Here at Value Dry, our pumps are warrantied.  When Tropical Storm Lee broke these pumps we replaced them under warranty!

What to Know About Homeowner’s Insurance and a Flooded Basement

For the most part, tearing out damaged drywall, carpeting, and other belongings and beginning the process of drying out was something most homeowners did on their own dime. Same thing with basement waterproofing and eventually finishing or refinishing a basement.

That’s because unless you have a separate flood insurance policy because you live in a flood zone, your homeowner’s insurance does not cover damages caused by flooding. And rising groundwater that causes a flooded basement is considered flooding.

But if you have a waterproofing system with one or more sump pumps, there is a workaround that can protect your investment in the event a sump pump fails or the power goes out and you don’t have a battery backup pump.

It’s called a sump pump rider or water backup rider or drain overflow insurance. Most insurance companies offer them. For an additional premium, you can get coverage usually starting at %$5,000 to help you repair or replace anything damaged because your sump pump fails.  Some homeowners’ policies require a battery backup sump pump in order for you to qualify for a sump pump rider.

These riders also cover sewage backup, in most cases.

Lessons Learned from Tropical Storm Lee

Tropical Storm Lee, coming as it did on the heels of Hurricane Irene, was just too much for some sump pumps, and totally flooded homes that didn’t have any waterproofing system at all. That brings us to a few lessons learned:

  1. If you have ever had water in your basement, it pays to invest in professional waterproofing to help protect you in the event of a big storm.
  2. ALWAYS install a battery backup sump pump that can take over in the event your main pump fails, or you lose power.
  3. If you have a sump pump, get a sump pump rider on your homeowner’s policy. It’s worth the extra bit of money!


Be Prepared for a Storm Like Lee – Schedule a FREE Basement Inspection

If you have a damp basement after a big thunderstorm, your basement is not prepared for the sustained rains of a tropical storm. Professional basement waterproofing is the best way to protect the structural integrity of your home and the health of your family.

To schedule your basement inspection, just call (888) 768-2583, or use the contact form. We are basement waterproofing specialists serving homeowners in Maryland, Washington DC, northern Virginia, and parts of Delaware. We’ve been in business for more than 20 years and will be around for many more years to come.


Image Credit: Tropical Storm Lee: By NASA, MODIS Rapid Response System – http://lance-modis.eosdis.nasa.gov/wms/, Public Domain

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