Ask the expert: Be prepared with our flooding advice
During periods of heavy rain the risk of flooding increases. We asked Policy Officer Patrick and Highway Engineer Sarah, from the Economy, Transport and Environment department, how we can be better prepared for the effects of bad weather...
What are the main causes of flooding?
Flooding happens for a variety of reasons; rivers not coping with water from the surrounding land, coastal flooding (high tides and stormy conditions), groundwater, rainfall that isn't soaked up or drained quickly enough and overflowing ditches or streams.
Who is responsible for managing flood risk?
The Environment Agency's role is managing flooding from main rivers and the sea. The County Council's role is managing the risk of flooding from other sources such as ditches, rainwater runoff and groundwater.
What is the County Council doing to minimise the risk of flooding?
County and unitary councils have new duties to co-ordinate what organisations are doing to manage flood risk under the Flood and Water Management Act, but no significant additional funding. This also comes at a time of reduced government capital investment in flood defences.
We are working with partner organisations, including district authorities, emergency services, utility companies and the Environment Agency to identify areas of risk, set out potential mitigation measures, combining and concentrating our efforts on areas at risk, using what funding we have. This may include changing routine work, such as carrying out road maintenance to clear drains at different times or building drainage systems that can take more water quickly off the road surface.
We can't prevent all flooding, but we can identify areas that may be a risk, and by changing some of the work we do and making sure people know what they can do to help themselves, we can work together to be more prepared.
What can I do to prevent the risk of flooding?
Property owners have a responsibility to keep ditches and watercourses around their property clear. This is particularly important at certain times of the year, such as the autumn when fallen leaves can cause blockages, or during spells of heavy rainfall when already saturated ground cannot soak up any more water.
How can I find out what areas are at risk of flooding?
The Environment Agency provides a free flood warning service for people who live in areas at risk. It also runs a groundwater flooding warning service that alerts people when the groundwater reaches a 'trigger' level.
Surface water flooding is far more difficult to predict and often affects a very localised area. We are trying to build a picture of where flooding has occurred in the past, as well as using computer models to try to assess the likelihood of risk in other areas.
What should I do if flooding looks likely to happen?
- Move valuables and food upstairs where possible.
- If you do not have a second storey and you find yourself in difficulty, alert the emergency services so you can be evacuated.
- Turn off gas and electricity.
- Assume that flood water contains sewage. Have a supply of drinking water in clean bottles or similar containers.
- Fill the bath and buckets with water.
- Protect doorways and low level vents with sandbags or plastic bags filled with soil or gravel (unblock these vents before switching everything back on).
- Check that neighbours know about any flood warnings issued.
- Floodline: 0845 9881188
- Typetalk: 0845 6026340
- The Environment Agency flooding information