FLOOD RISK. Your guide to preparing for floods

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1 FLOOD RISK Your guide to preparing for floods

2 2 Flood Risk In England & Wales over 5.2 million properties are at risk of flooding from rivers, the sea or surface water. That is 1 in 6 properties. The winter of 2013/2014 was the wettest on record with around 7,800 residential and 3,000 commercial properties flooding. 2.8 million at risk of Surface Water Flooding alone 1 million at risk from both sources 1.4 million at risk of River or Coastal Flooding alone

3 3 Sources of Flooding River Flooding Often referred to as Fluvial Flooding, occurs when a river or stream cannot cope with the amount of water draining into it from the surrounding land. The additional water causes the water level to rise above its banks or retaining structures. Coastal Flooding Is the accumulation of water along the coast caused by rising sea water above normal levels. Coastal flooding can result from a combination of high tides, stormy conditions and tidal surges Surface Water (Pluvial) Flooding Pluvial flooding results from overland flow before the runoff enters a watercourse or sewer. It is usually the result of high intensity rainfall, but also occurs with lower intensity rainfall when the land has a low permeability and/or is already saturated, frozen or developed. Groundwater Flooding Occurs when the water table rises above normally and anticipated levels. When the water table rises and reaches ground level, water starts to emerge on the surface and flooding can occur. It will usually occur days or weeks after heavy or prolonged rainfall, and doesn t always appear where you would expect (eg valley bottoms). Reservoir Flooding Although very unlikely to happen, reservoir flooding occurs when there is a catastrophic failure of a reservoir. Sewer Flooding: Sewer flooding is most likely to occur during storms, when large volumes of rainwater enter the sewers. It is not something that can be predicted or modelled.

4 4 Am I at risk of flooding? How GroundSure can help Finding out if you are at risk of flooding could save you money and help protect yourself and your property. Even if a property is not at risk from rivers or the sea, you could still be at risk from surface water or groundwater flooding. You can check the risk of flooding to your area by using the Environment Agency Flood Maps, or you can obtain a property specific assessment from a specialist company such as GroundSure. Even if your home is not directly at risk, everyone can be affected by the consequences of an unexpected event. Do you have a watercourse on your land? If you own land adjoining, above or with a watercourse running through it, you are a riparian owner. You have responsibility for the maintenance and upkeep of the watercourse to ensure that it is not a flood risk to other people or property. Further information is explained in the Environment Agency s publication Living on the edge. What is a 1 in 100 year flood risk? This phrase is often mistaken to mean that it is a flood that occurs every 100 years. However it actually means a flood that has a 1% chance of occurring in any year. The floods of July 2007 were in this category.

5 5 What to do before a flood: Find out if you are at risk of flooding Find out if you can receive flood warnings & sign up If you live in an area at risk of flooding, it is strongly recommended to sign up for flood warnings. Floodline Warnings Direct is a free service provided by the Environment Agency to warn residents of possible flooding. Alerts can be sent by phone, text, and social media: Sign up at https://fwd.environment-agency.gov.uk/app/olr/register or call Floodline on Understanding the Flood Warnings: FLOOD ALERT Flooding is possible. Be prepared FLOOD WARNING Flooding is expected. Immediate action required SEVERE FLOOD WARNING Severe flooding. Danger to life

6 6 Make a flood plan Making a flood plan can help you prepare and reduce the damage flooding can cause. A personal flood plan template is available from the Environment Agency, however these are a few of the key things to consider: Ensure you have the correct insurance cover and keep a note of your policy number in an accessible location. Prepare and keep a list of all important contacts to hand or save them in your mobile phone, such as relatives, insurance company, gas/electricity/ water provider. Think about the items that can be easily moved to higher ground before a flood, for example pets, furniture, valuable items and electrical equipment. Ensure you know how to turn off the gas, electricity and water supplies. Prepare a flood kit (see page overleaf) Consider purchasing flood protection products. EMERGENCY FLOOD KIT 3 Important documents such as insurance policy and contact numbers 3 Emergency phone numbers: Floodline, insurance emergency contacts, emergency services, local council, friends & family 3 Torch 3 Spare batteries 3 Wind-up radio if possible 3 Mobile phone 3 First aid kit, with essential prescription medicines 3 Rubber gloves / water proof warm clothing 3 Wellington boots(or similar) 3 Blankets 3 Wash kit and essential toiletries (toilet paper, wet wipes, antibacterial gels) 3 Childrens essentials (baby milk, food, sterilising equipment) 3 Camera to record damage for insurance purposes 3 Emergency money

7 7 Prepare your property for flooding A flooded home can be costly not just in terms of money and time, but also in inconvenience, emotional upheaval and ill health. Whether you rent or own a property, there are many things you can do to help yourself. Flooding can cause structural damage to a property, contamination and reduced property values. The average cost of a flooded property is between 20,000-30,000. While it is not possible to eliminate the risk of flooding completely, many practical steps can be taken to reduce the cost of flood damage repairs and speed up recovery time. It is estimated that property level protection can reduce flood damage by between 50-80%. Property level protection can be categorised into two groups: Flood resistance measures prevent or reduce the amount of water entering a property Flood resilience measures reduces the damage caused once the flood water enters a property The most important thing is to prepare for a flood in advance, don t wait until the flooding is highly likely as you won t have time to put measures in place. Resistant Measures - try to keep water out: Doors: demountable purpose built flood doors and barriers can be installed when a flood is imminent. These can be used on all doors including garages. Walls: walls should be in good condition. Repair broken bricks and re-point mortar up to anticipated flood level. Walls can also be treated with a waterproofing agent. Replace standard airbricks with specially designed airbricks that allow air in but not water. Alternatively, air bricks covers can be installed prior to a flood and used over standard airbricks.

8 8 Basements & Cellars: protection of basements and cellars and raised floor levels is essential to prevent the ingress of water. A number of solutions are available, ranging from full tanking to simple waterproofing applications. Seek advice from a professional flood protection company. Pipes & Cables: ensure all entry points for TV, internet, telephone and pipes are sealed with appropriate compounds to prevent the ingress of water. Drains: non-return or backflow valves will help prevent water and sewerage entering a property through toilets and showers/baths. Before making permanent changes to your home it is strongly recommended to seek professional advice Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors Royal Institute of British Architects Resilient Measures - help reduce the recovery time: Floors: fitted carpets often need to be replaced after a flood. Lay tiles and rugs to prevent this. Walls: use a waterproof coating and dry line if possible. Fit water-resistant skirting boards, or use a waterproof coating. Shelves: put valuable and irreplaceable items on high mounted shelves. Fixtures & Fittings: fix your electronic equipment to the wall and raise power sockets about 1.5m above the floor level. If this is not possible, move these items to higher ground, such as an upstairs bedroom. Furniture: sofas, and fabric items should be moved to higher ground, such as an upstairs bedroom prior to a flood occurring. If this is not possible, move them away from the walls as this will speed up the drying process. In other areas such as kitchens and bathrooms use water-resistant materials such as steel, plastic or solid wood, and raise white goods where possible.

9 9 Important items: make sure all personal and valuable items are moved upstairs or out of the house, as these cannot be easily replaced. Keep all important documents in a watertight plastic bag in a high safe place. Consider keeping duplicate copies of documents with family or friends who are not at risk of flooding. Quality Standard When buying a flood product ensure it has been properly tested and displays the BSI Kitemark or equivalent accreditation. The British Standards Institution (BSI) maintains a list of all manufacturers of flood protection products that have been tested and achieved Kitemark accreditation. How much does it cost? Protecting a property against flooding will depend on the size of property and type of flood you are protecting against. GroundSure works closely with Watertight International who are able to provide advice on flood protection. ITEMS NOTES GUIDE Sewage Backflow Prevention Watertight s Smart Airbricks Repointing of damaged brickwork Demountable flood barriers Around 50% of flooding events in the UK are caused by backflow flooding; installation of sewage backflow prevention devices can drastically reduce the potentially ravaging effects of backflow flooding. A single airbrick porous bricks in the fabric of a building which allow it to breathe can allow so much as 50,000 litres of water to pass through it in a single hour. Watertight s Smart Airbricks can provide a modern, intelligent solution to this potentially catastrophic problem. Houses can easily generate multiple potential ingress points for water; simple modifications such as holes created for satellite dishes can severely exacerbate water intake to a property. Watertight s repointing of damaged brickwork and application of waterproof coating ensures the building s integrity in a flood event and guarantees that all your building s invisible pores are filled. Any door is a potential weak spot in flooding, and once breached will allow in the majority of water. Demountable flood barriers provide the most robust protection for any property at risk from flooding, with peace of mind for no extra cost ,500-3,000

10 10 During a flood: Tune into your local radio station to keep up with the latest weather forecasts and issues in your area Fill jugs and saucepans with clean water and keep in a secure location Grab your flood kit, medication, food and any other important items Move yourselves, family and pets to higher ground where possible and safe Listen to the advice of the emergency services Remember Do not approach any fast flowing water or deep standing water; this could increase your risk of drowning, regardless of swimming ability. Do not rely on cars or other vehicles to protect you from floodwaters. If driving in floods is unavoidable, do with extreme caution. 6 inches of fast flowing water can sweep a 4X4 vehicle off the road. What happens once a property has been flooded? In most situations you will need to be evacuated from the property to either a rest centre, or you may choose to reside with family or friends. The Emergency Services will provide guidance on safe evacuation. Contact your insurer as soon as possible. Start identifying items that have been damaged, make a list and take pictures if you can this will make it easier to assess the damage and speed up your claim. Ensure the gas and electricity supplies have been checked by a qualified person prior to using again.

11 11 Flood waters can easily become contaminated especially by untreated sewage. This contamination can remain once the flood waters have receded so precautions should be taken: Wear rubber gloves and boots when entering the property Wash all cuts and cover with waterproof plasters Young children, pregnant woman and people with health problems should not enter the property until the clean-up operation has been completed. Flood water can severely damage the structural integrity of a building: Before entering the property, check for any signs of damage. If the property looks unsafe do not approach or attempt to enter. Caution should be taken when moving any objects that have been carried into your property (especially large heavy objects). These may be unstable and could suddenly move or trap you. Be careful when moving in and around the property. Standing water and mud can hide holes, damage to structures and sharp objects. Further information can be sought from the National Flood Forum. Managing flood risks: who is responsible? The Environment Agency has operational responsibility for managing the risk of flooding from main rivers, reservoirs, estuaries and the sea, as well as being a coastal erosion risk management authority. The Environment Agency is also responsible for managing and maintaining flood defences. Lead Local Flood Authorities (unitary authorities or county councils) have lead responsibility for managing the risks of flooding from surface water, groundwater and ordinary watercourses, defined asa watercourse that is not part of a main river and includes rivers, streams, ditches, cuts, culverts, dikes, sluices, sewers and passages through which water flows. District Councils are key partners in planning local flood risk management and can carry out flood risk management works on minor watercourses. District and unitary councils in coastal areas also act as coastal erosion risk management authorities. Water and Sewerage Companies are responsible for managing the risks of flooding from water and foul or combined sewer systems.

12 12 Insurance Flood insurance is normally included as a standard part of your buildings insurance. At a basic level it covers your home and its contents against damage caused by flooding. However, you might not be covered for everything such as replacing your damaged belongings new for old and alternative accommodation. It is advisable to check all the details in your buildings and contents insurance policy that relate to flooding and make sure you have enough cover to protect you in the event of a flood. It is advisable to check that you are covered against all sources of flooding including groundwater. In the 2014 floods, many properties discovered they were not covered as the floods were caused by groundwater. Further information can be found here. https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/en/articles/flood-insurance-gettingthe-right-cover If you rent a property, it is advisable to check your contents insurance policy to determine if damage by flood waters is covered. Cap on Flood Premiums In 2000, an agreement between the insurance industry and the government called the Statement of Principles was signed to guarantee that insurers would continue to cover properties at higher flood risks providing the government had plans in place to reduce the risk of flooding within five years. This agreement was due to expire in the summer of 2013, however as a formal agreement had not been made on an alternative scheme, it will be extended until the summer of 2015, when Flood Re is due to be introduced. Flood Re is an agreement that will enable flood insurance premiums to be capped, bringing down the cost of cover for high risk homes. Under the terms of the deal, the flooding element of household insurance premiums will be capped at 210 a year for homes in council tax band A and B, rising to 540 a year for home in band H. Properties built after 2009, most leasehold properties and commercial properties will be excluded from the scheme.

13 13 Flood Re will be funded by a charge on all insurers of a total of 180 million, which equates to a levy of on everyone s annual household premiums. The Association of British Insurers states that homeowners will not notice any difference as the levy represents the estimated level of cross-subsidy that already exists between lower and higher flood risk premiums. Insurance Premium discounts It might be possible to negotiate a discount on your insurance premium if permanent property level flood protection measures are installed. Additional Assistance It can sometimes be difficult to obtain insurance especially if you live in a high risk area or your property has flooded in the past. If it has not been possible to obtain affordable cover, there are specialists who may be able to help. The British Insurance Brokers Association (BIBA) s find a broker helpline can help you locate a flood specialist insurance broker - visit or call The National Flood Forum provides independent advice on how to approach getting flood risk insurance visit or call Professional Advice We strongly recommend seeking professional advice from a building surveyor or architect prior to making permanent changes to a property. You may also require planning permission. You could contact: Your Local Authority Building Control Department Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Contact your Local Authority to find out if you are eligible for flood support schemes such as the Renew and Repair Grant or Council Tax Discounts.

14 14 USEFUL CONTACTS Environment Agency Floodline https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/environment-agency Tel: NHS Emergency and urgent care Tel: 111 Public Health England https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/public-health-england Tel: Citizens Advice Bureau National Flood Forum Tel: Association of British Insurers (ABI) https://www.abi.org.uk/ Tel: British Insurers Brokers Association (BIBA) Tel: Watertight International Tel: Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) Tel: Royal Institute of British Architects Tel:

15 Sovereign House Church Street, Brighton, BN1 1UJ +44 (0)

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