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Rain storm hitting the ground

Flash Flooding in the Summer

Written by Mary Long-Dhonau OBE

Surface water flooding – otherwise known as flash flooding – poses a significant risk to communities. When the ground is hard due to hot summer sunshine, rainwater cannot drain away quickly enough.

Unlike river or coastal flooding, this type of flooding can occur anywhere. It happens when intense rainfall overwhelms drains and natural drainage systems, leading to the sudden accumulation of water in our communities.

What Are The Dangers of Flash Flooding?

In my experience, flash surface water flooding is indiscriminate and can have severe consequences. Slow moving heavy clouds can dump a month’s rain fall in a localised area, in a short time, when nearby hasn’t had any rain at all!

The rapid accumulation of water creates hazards such as significant run-off on roads creating difficult or even dangerous driving conditions, hazardous debris, and submerged objects. Vehicles can become overwhelmed, putting lives at risk, and properties can be severely damaged by the force of the water.

Always Be Prepared!

Preparedness is crucial when it comes to dealing with surface water flooding. I’ve learned that being proactive and having a plan in place can significantly reduce the impact and risks associated with such events. Here are a few steps to consider:

  • Stay Informed: Keep track of weather forecasts and flood warnings issued by local authorities and the Environment Agency. Sign up for emergency alerts to receive timely information about potential flood risks in your specific area.
  • Develop an Emergency Plan: Create a comprehensive plan that includes moving prized possessions upstairs or elevating them onto tables or work surfaces, relocating your car to higher ground, planning evacuation routes, and making sure that everyone in your household understands the plan and knows what to do in case of a flood.
  • Protect Your Property: Take preventive measures such as installing flood resilience measures. This can include flood barriers, flood doors, self-closing air bricks and non-return valves on your plumbing to prevent water entering via washing machines, toilets and sinks. Also, regularly maintain and clear gutters, downspouts, and drains to facilitate water flow at all times.
  • Build an Emergency Kit: Prepare an emergency kit that includes essential supplies including non-perishable food, water, medication, flashlights, batteries, blankets, and a portable radio. Keep important documents in a waterproof container or safely stored online in the cloud.
  • Tip – if a heavy rainstorm is coming your way, empty your water butt to allow the rain from your roof to go into the water butt and not into the drainage system. If every one did that, it could make a big difference!

Remain Vigilant

Particularly in the summer months, when we’ve all be enjoying the hot sunny weather it can be easy to become complacent. This is a common pitfall when it comes to flood preparedness, however it is important to recognise that flash flooding can occur in any location, regardless of past flooding history.

Even if you live in an area that has not experienced flooding before, don’t assume it cannot happen. By remaining vigilant and prepared, you can minimise the potential impact on your life and property.

Surface water flooding threatens more people and properties in the UK than any other type of flood risk. It poses a real and present danger, particularly in areas where the ground has become hardened by the hot summer conditions.

The secret is in being prepared; receive alerts, have a plan, and stay informed!

Having been flooded myself, I know only too well how awful it is and that’s why I’m evangelical about planning in advance in order to keep one step ahead when faced with the prospect of flash (or indeed any) flooding.

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