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UK Flood Risk Advice & Information

Managing and addressing UK flood risk has never been more important. Over 2 million properties in England and Wales are at risk from flooding. Changes in our climate, such as more severe storms and wetter winters, will increase that risk. Do you have the right information on flooding available to deal with the potential threat?

This page offers flood risk advice and information on types of flooding risk to ensure you have access to content which not only prepares you for what to do when a flood comes, but also ensures you have the correct information to ensure you can highlight potential flood risk before it transpires.

What is a flood and why does it happen?
Types of flooding
Flooding – who can assist?
What can I do to avoid flood risk?
What to do if a flood happens

Information on Flooding & Why Floods Happen

According to the Encarta encyclopedia, a flood is an overflow of an expanse of water that submerges land, a deluge. In the sense of "flowing water", the word is applied to the inflow of the tide, as opposed to the outflow or "ebb". It is usually due to the volume of water within a body of water, such as a river or lake, exceeding the total capacity of the body, and as a result some of the water flows or sits outside of the normal perimeter of the body.The word comes from the Old English flod, a word common to Teutonic languages, compare German Flut, Dutch vloed from the same root as is seen in flow, float. The term "The Flood" usually refers to the great Universal Deluge described in Genesis and is treated at Deluge.

Flooding is a natural event and usually occurs when heavy rainfall fills rivers and streams above their normal capacity, or when there are very high river or coastal tides that cause levels to rise or surge.  Excess water that gathers cannot be restrained by normal boundaries (such as a river embankment) and follows the path of least resistance.

As a consequence, areas that are low lying and close to the source of a flood will be at the most vulnerable. Flooding can also occur when rainwater collects on the ground and cannot find a source to drain into. A typical example is surface water run-off (for example, if you are located at the bottom of a hill or slope of ground). Localised flooding mainly happens when the ground cannot absorb any more water in a particular area, or if sewers and underground drains become blocked or cannot cope with the excess water trying to drain into them.

Information on Types of flooding

There are actually several different types of flooding which can impact your home and this is why it’s important to ensure you have sufficiently assessed the potential risk to your property by looking at UK flood risk in a wider perspective. The Homecheck Professional Flood Report offers assessment based on a variety of flood data sets to ensure you have the most comprehensive flood risk reports available.

The below describes the key flood risk advice in greater detail.

Surface Water Flooding

This type of flooding is caused because the volume of water falling or flowing onto the metalled surface overwhelms existing drainage systems. These types of flooding risk are usually short lived and associated with heavy downpours of rain, thunder storms etc. Often there is limited advance notice of this type of this localised flooding. However weather forecasts from the Met office can give a good generalised indications of the flood risk.

Highway drainage systems are designed to deal with certain frequencies of storm and rainfall intensity. Flooding can be caused by the sheer volume of water or indicate a blockage or maintenance problem with the system. Any flooding should be reported so that the flooding can be dealt with and the system checked for adequacy.

Coastal and Fluvial Flooding

This type of flooding is caused by high tides and or inclement weather breaching sea defences and inundating the surrounding areas. River floods as banks burst and flooding of roads usually follows extended periods of exceptionally heavy rainfall.

Both of these events are usually well predicted in advance and refer to the Environment Agency and Met office web sites for flood risk indications.

Engineering solutions that can be put in place to mitigate the impact of this type of flooding are limited simply because of the huge volumes of water involved and because it is not contained or channeled. Groundwater flooding, however can be predicted well in advance by the Environment Agency who monitor the aquifer levels throughout the year.

Groundwater Flooding

This is the most problematic type of flooding in many areas. It is different from surface water flooding caused directly by very high levels of rainfall. Where the geology of an area is predominantly chalk (which contains layers of water-bearing rock, clay, or sand) layers are called aquifers. There is a natural cycle in which the aquifers are filled with rain water in the winter and discharged into chalk streams.

When the aquifers are filled to overflowing in the winter, natural springs and winterbournes are activated (winterbournes are streams or rivers that are dry in the summer months). Exceptional periods of rain can cause groundwater flooding from springs and winterbournes which inundate roads and overwhelm drainage systems. This type of flooding can last for weeks or months. An early indication of groundwater flooding is often when property cellars start to fill with water.

Engineering solutions that can be put in place to mitigate the impact of this type of flooding are limited simply because of the huge volumes of water involved and because it is not contained or channeled.

Flooding - who can assist?

Flooding is a real risk and is should be considered by all homeowners. If you are one of the 5 million people in England and Wales who live or work in a floodplain, your home or business is more likely to be flooded than it is to catch fire.  Most people know what to do in the event of a fire but would you and your family know what action to take before a flood and when a flood arrives at your home?

Landmark Information Group

Landmark are the authoritative voice for impartial environmental advice to property professionals and homeowners. Our property specific reports offer assessment across a variety of key risks, including flood risk reports and assessment. To find out more about the comprehensive Homecheck Professional Flood Report from Landmark, please call a member of our knowledgeable customer services team on 0844 844 9966.

The Environment Agency

In England and Wales, the Environment Agency is responsible for building, maintaining and operating flood defences and for issuing flood warnings to the public, other flood responding organisations and the media.
The Environment Agency also provides the Floodline 0845 988 1188 service. You can listen to recorded information on flooding for your area or speak to an operator for advice 24 hours a day.

Floodline is also available in Scotland, coordinated by the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA).
SEPA - Flooding (Scotland)

The Police

When a major flood incident occurs the Police coordinate the emergency services and help with the evacuation of people from their homes where necessary.

The Fire & Rescue Service

  • Main objective is to save lives and evacuate people to safety where necessary
  • Some local services provide water pumping to remove flood water

The Citizens Advice Bureau

  • In some circumstances they can issue advice on how to obtain money in an emergency and what action to take around insurance
  • Contact information on your Bureau can be found in the phone book or on the Citizens Advice Bureau website.

Local Authorities

  • Work with the police, fire and rescue services and the Environment Agency to co-ordinate responses during severe flooding
  • Issue advice to the local area about the incident and what action to take
  • Organise rest centres for people evacuated from their homes and set up temporary shelters/ accommodation for those people who have nowhere else they can go to.
  • Address road closures and disruption to social services.
  • Investigate dame introduced by overflowing drains and sewers.
  • Where resource and material are available, they may supply sandbags and/or other preventative materials

The National Flood Forum

Provides support and advice to communities and individuals that have been flooded or are at risk of flooding. It is a collective, authoritative voice that aims to influence central and local government and all agencies that manage flood risk. The charity is run by people who have experienced the trauma, loss and frustration that go with flooding or have first hand experience of supporting the victims of flooding both during and after the event.

The aims of the National Flood Forum

  • To advise and support communities and individuals that flood or are at flood risk
    To raise awareness of the plight of flood victims that experience flooding
  • To encourage the establishment of community led groups for mutual support and action to mitigate their future risk of flooding
  • To instigate multi agency collaboration and mediation between those that flood and those that manage flood risk
  • To organise "flood fairs" to provide public information and advice from the NFF, government agencies and self help protection firms
  • To work to secure effective and appropriate action by working with: Government, Insurance Companies, Environment Agency, Local Authorities and Water Companies.

The National Flood Forum is a registered charity

They welcome sponsorship and donations:
To sponsor or make a donation, ring Amanda Davies on 01299 407852 or email on amanda.ban@floodforum.org.uk

For a list of flood protection products and services, contact the National Flood Forum

To access the Blue Pages flood directory, please click HERE

What to do if a flood happens

The EA offers the following advice on the action to take when a flood arrives in your area.

What to do when you hear a Flood Warning

  • Listen out for warnings on radio and TV and phone the Environment Agency Floodline on 0845 988 1188 for more information.
  • Move pets, vehicles, valuables and other items to safety.
  • Alert your neighbours, particularly the elderly.
  • Put sandbags or flood boards in place - but make sure your property is ventilated. Plug sinks/baths.
  • Be ready to turn off gas and electricity (get help if needed). Unplug electrical items and move them upstairs if possible.
  • Co-operate with emergency services and local authorities - you may be evacuated to a rest centre.
  • Do as much as you can in daylight. Doing anything in the dark will be a lot harder, especially if the electricity fails.

Stay Safe in a Flood

  • Do not be tempted to go and watch the waves come in – they are dangerous and you will be putting yourself at risk.
  • Listen to the local news and to the emergency services who will advise if evacuation is necessary and check on elderly relatives and make sure they are ok.
  • Floods can kill. Don't try to walk or drive through floodwater - six inches of fast flowing water can knock you over and two feet of water will float your car. Manhole covers may have come off and there may be other hazards you can’t see.
  • Never try to swim through fast flowing water - you may get swept away or be struck by an object in the water.
  • Don't walk on sea defences, riverbanks or cross river bridges if possible - they may collapse in extreme situations or you may be swept off by large waves. Beware of stones and pebbles being thrown up by waves. 
For more information contact us on 0844 845 9921 or email flud@homecheckpro.co.uk
Homecheck Professional Flood Report