The Environment Agency has warned that UK homeowners need to be prepared for flooding in the winter months. They described 2022 as a “year of extremes”, caused by climate change, and warned of complacency creeping in after a dry summer.
More than 5 million UK properties are at risk of flooding from the sea and rivers. But, despite the risk, 1.5 million have not taken any action to prepare for the worst, according to Met Office research.
Flooding can occur anywhere and at virtually any time, although heavy rainfall in December and January means that these are the months with the highest risk. As well as the threat of rivers bursting their banks, coastal flooding can occur as a result of serious storm surges. Flash flooding happens when a deluge of rain causes flooding in low-level areas and the ground is unable to drain the water away fast enough.
Prepare. Act. Survive
The results of flooding can be devastating, leaving homes uninhabitable. In extreme cases, it can lead to the loss of life and long-term displacement of residents. The Environment Agency has said that people in high-risk areas should “Prepare. Act. Survive” as soon as possible, starting by signing up for the free flood alert system and following these guidelines:
When an initial flood alert is received, recipients are encouraged to prepare by getting essentials like medicine, important documents, and vital equipment ready and easily accessible. These will ensure you have some form of communication, a means of checking for flood updates, and you will have digital copies of documents like your home insurance to hand.
On receipt of a confirmed flood warning, it is time to act. This means turning off utilities and getting the family to a safe place.
A severe flood warning means recipients should follow advice from the emergency services. Call 999 and do as instructed to help survive any immediate danger.
The Agency went on to say that the government is investing £5.2 billion over six years to protect against flooding and that there are 250 mobile pumps as well as 5,000 trained responders ready for any flooding events.
Finally, the report goes on to warn of the dangers of driving in floods. 30cm of flowing water, and 60cm of standing water, is enough to float a car. Drivers should avoid flooded areas and take alternative routes wherever possible.
The Cost of Flooding
The last major flood to occur in Swindon was in 2007. While there were no fatalities, homes were flooded, and residents were displaced. The River Avon also burst its banks in 2012, causing flooding in Malmesbury.
Six million homes are deemed at risk of flooding, typically because they are located in an area where floods have occurred previously. And, while 60% of these homes have signed up for free flood alerts, that still leaves 40% that have yet to register. What’s more, a quarter of all floods occur in areas that are not flood-prone.
Flooding costs England more than £1 billion every year and 4 in 10 businesses that suffer a catastrophic loss following flooding never reopen their doors.