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

Posted: 20/11/23

Press Release: 20th November 2023

From: Environment Agency, Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs, and Rebecca Pow MP


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.

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:

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 onlinesign-up to flood warnings and know what to do to prepare for flooding.

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.

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.

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