Flooding: is your flat at risk?

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Is your flat at risk of flooding? Dozens of flood warnings are in place across England today, with the Environment Agency issuing 60 flood warnings and nearly 160 alerts for coastal areas from Mount’s Bay in Cornwall to Seahouses in Northumberland.

With many rivers already swollen to bursting point after days of heavy rain, block managers in these areas should already be preparing for the worst-case-scenario, delivering on-site protection such as sandbags or flood barriers to at-risk properties.

If flood warnings are broadcast, residents should be advised to move their cars to higher ground and belongings should be removed from ground floor flats and stored further up the building wherever possible. If residents have pets, they should try and make arrangements for them to be looked after by friends or relations and they should also try and find suitable overnight accommodation for themselves in advance should the worst happen. Some insurance cover will allow for emergency accommodation but not all, so check the small print.

It is important for block managers to talk to residents, particularly elderly or vulnerable flat owners, to make sure they know what to do and where to go should they find flood water coming into their homes. Checklists of what to take – such as medical supplies, mobile phones and bank cards – if residents are forced to evacuate, will help people plan in advance and leave the building calmly in an emergency.

If you are renting a flat, check your lease to find out what insurance cover is in place if you are flooded out. Also, make sure you have contents insurance, particularly if you live on the lower floors of your block. Don’t be scared to ask your property manager/letting agent/landlord what, if any, flood protection measures they have in place. There should be a flood emergency and evacuation plan for your building. If you don’t have one, you and your neighbours can request one is drawn up. The Environment Agency runs a free flood warning service so anyone living in a flat can find out quickly if their block is at risk from potential flooding. And if you live in a ground floor flat, again, don’t be afraid to ask for sandbags to be provided so you can keep them on hand in case of emergency.

Longer term, flat owners and leaseholders are well-advised to ask their block manager to obtain a flood risk screening report. This gives an expert risk assessment that helps make decisions on any flood protection measures that may be needed.  These range from installing door barriers and fitting airbrick covers to raising electrical wiring to ensure utilities are not disrupted throughout communal properties.

And finally, if you are worried about your level of flood insurance cover, talk to us at Ringley. One of our specialist staff will be happy to advise you.