Global Agriculture

Flood Action Week: Households need to know their flood risk after 2023’s record-breaking weather

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20 November 2023, UK: Communities are being urged by the Environment Agency this week to make sure they know their flood risk amid increased extreme weather events.  

After this year’s record-breaking weather, the Environment Agency is launching its annual awareness campaign – Flood Action Week – as making just one small change can reduce the effects on homes and families and even save lives.  

Around 5.5 million homes and businesses in England are at risk of flooding and climate change is only increasing the dangers. It is clear we are already seeing the impacts of the climate crisis around the world and in the UK through wetter winters and hotter, drier summers.   

One of the key messages of COP28, which gets underway in the United Arab Emirates on 30 November, is that the globe must prepare for the effects of increasingly extreme weather. Data published elsewhere this month by the Copernicus Climate Change Service shows 2023 is near certain to be the warmest year on record.  

This was only too evident during the last few weeks. According to the Met Office, Storm Babet saw the third-wettest independent three-day period in a series for England and Wales since 1891, while the Midlands provisionally recorded its wettest ever three-day period.  

Nearly 100,000 properties were protected as part of the Environment Agency’s response to the flooding caused by Storm Babet, while its flood warning service sent out more than 300,000 messages by email, telephone and text. Sadly, around 2,100 properties flooded. 

The Environment Agency is working to understand if more could be done to protect these properties better in future. However, householders and businesses can also plan ahead to mitigate the impacts of flooding.   

Alan Lovell, Chair of the Environment Agency, said: 

With a changing climate, the frequency and severity of flooding will only get worse. So far, this year has seen two devastating named storms, while the Midlands recorded its wettest ever three-day period.   

Our work during Storm Babet protected nearly 100,000 properties and we’re investing millions into keeping communities safe, but we know that some flooding can’t always be prevented. That’s why it’s essential you know what to do in a flood.  

Knowing just one action can reduce the effects on your home and family and even save lives. Anyone can go online to check if they are at risk, sign up for Environment Agency warnings and, crucially, know what they need to do if flooding hits.

Floods Minister Rebecca Pow said:

I know how devastating flooding can be to homes and businesses – and these extreme weather events are only becoming more common.   

The government is working hard to help the nation to become more resilient, with record investment in flood and coastal erosion risk management in England. 

But there are some simple steps we can all take to be better prepared should flooding occur such as checking your flood risk online and signing up for flood warnings and I would urge everyone to be proactive.

Taking steps to prepare for flooding can reduce the chance of losing treasured items. People can also plan who can support them or which vulnerable family members or neighbours may need help during a flood.   

Planning ahead to mitigate the impacts of flooding is essential. Crucially, taking steps to prepare for flooding can reduce the damage to your home and possessions by around 40%, research shows.   

This Flood Action Week (20-26 November), the Environment Agency is reminding people that to prepare for future flooding you should:  

  • take steps to protect yourself from future flooding
  • sign up for flood warnings by phone, text or email
  • check your long-term flood risk from rivers, the sea, surface water, reservoirs and groundwater

The Environment Agency is continuing its work to help communities become more resilient to extreme weather and rising sea levels. It has 250 high volume pumps available and is ready to operate flood defences and erect temporary barriers to protect communities where it can. It uses its flood warning system to alert 1.6 million properties directly when flooding is expected.    

Around 3.4 million properties in England are at risk of surface water flooding in particular, which generally occurs after heavy rainfall in urban areas, when water cannot drain away or soak into the ground. It can happen very quickly and can be difficult to predict.  

With just 30cm of flowing water being enough to float a car, drivers are warned to take extra precautions in wet weather and not to attempt to drive through flood water.   

To help protect yourselves, check your flood risk online, sign-up to flood warnings and know what to do to prepare for flooding.  

Tony Rich, former AA Patrol of the Year, said:  

As always in wet weather, leave plenty of space behind other vehicles and adjust your speed to suit the conditions, especially when approaching large puddles and dips in the road. If you can safely manoeuvre around a flooded area, we’d advise you to do so as there could be a pothole or displaced drain cover lurking beneath the surface. 

If there are diversions in place due to flooding, don’t be tempted to ignore them as this is not only dangerous but can lead to a hefty repair bill if water enters your car’s engine. Prepare for traffic delays by making sure you bring essentials with you on your journey, even if it is only short, such as warm layers, a hot drink and a fully charged mobile phone.

The average cost of flooding to a home is estimated at around £30,000 and the mental health impacts are long lasting.   

There are actions people can take to increase individual property resilience alongside the work undertaken by the Environment Agency.  

The Environment Agency and partners Flood Re, the joint initiative between the Government and the insurance industry, are running the ‘Be Flood Smart’ campaign encouraging householders to adapt their homes with property flood resilience (PFR) measures to protect themselves better against the impacts of future floods.  

Andy Bord, CEO of Flood Re, said:

The named storms we have seen in recent weeks have highlighted the devastation that flooding can cause to households. Through affordable and easy to install Property Flood Resilience products, homes can be better protected from flood waters, reducing the amount of time impacted families have to spend away from their home after a flood.  

Adding measures such as self-closing airbricks, non-return valves, and flood resilient doors, or making small changes in the home such as raising electrical sockets or using waterproof flooring, can reduce the cost of repair work by as much as 73% after a major flood. 

Last year Flood Re launched Build Back Better to give householders who have been flooded up to £10,000 to fit resilience measures in their homes so that flooding does not happen again. This Flood Action Week, it is important that every homeowner knows where they can access affordable flood insurance and Build Back Better support.

PFR measures reduce the risk of flood damage to individual homes, speed up repair work and help people move back into their properties more quickly after a flood. They can include raising electrical sockets and white goods away from floor level, installing self-closing air bricks and flood resistant doors and replacing flooring with waterproof tiling and grout.   

Research shows PFR limits the cost of repair work for properties by as much as 73% after a major flood.

Also Read: Global Fisheries Conference 2023 to be organized in India on 21-22 November at Ahmedabad

(For Latest Agriculture News & Updates, follow Krishak Jagat on Google News)

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