Surface water flooding – could you be at risk?

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Is your home at risk from surface water flooding?

Could surface water flooding affect your home? It only seems five minutes since we were all complaining about the heat and already we have seen extreme weather result in flash floods in parts of the country. Surface water flooding, as opposed to rivers bursting their banks after sustained rainfall, is a risk to an estimated three million homes around the country. This type of flooding normally happens after heavy thunderstorms or rainfall when the volume of rainwater is such that it does not drain away or soak into the ground. What makes it worse is that due to its localised nature, it is very difficult to predict.

So the government is trying to tackle the problem with an independent review aimed at reducing the risk of surface water flooding across England and has announced it will implement 12 of its recommendations without delay. These will build on the existing Surface Water Management Action Plan.

The review highlights a number of ways in which the risks from surface water flooding could be more effectively managed, and it makes clear who is responsible for constructing and maintaining drainage systems – which is crucial in managing flood risk.

The recommendations aim to improve clarity over roles and responsibilities, ensure flood investigation reports take into account the views of residents and businesses and that lessons learned are shared widely. It also recommends that better advice is made available to homes and businesses at risk of surface water flooding to help them improve their own protection and resilience.

It is also good to hear that £1.2 billion is being invested in a state-of-the-art supercomputer to improve severe weather and climate forecasting which will help to more accurately predict storms. Let’s hope it doesn’t suffer from the kind of problems that too often beset government IT projects. There will also be changes in how funding is allocated to flood protection projects. The aim here is to enable surface water flooding protection schemes to qualify for more funding.

So good news for anyone whose home is likely to be at risk. But in the meantime, there are things that residents can do to protect themselves and their property, even from flash flooding. First, make sure you have buildings and contents insurance policies that provide flood cover. Second, talk to your property manager about emergency procedures in your block if there is a likelihood of it being affected by floodwater. And last but not least, make sure you know how to access the environment agency’s flood warning service. This may not always be able to predict surface water flooding but it should help to flag up areas that may be at risk. You can sign up for this free service here

An emergency bag under the bed or at the back of the wardrobe may sound daft but if you’re in a flood risk area it is a sensible precaution to take. Click here for some ideas as to what it should contain

We all hope the worst will never happen and the government is taking action to tackle flooding from all sources, but with more extreme weather being faced around the world, as people living on the Louisiana coast are finding out this morning, it is important to be prepared.
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