If your home or business is at risk of flooding, you should make sure you have your own personal flood plan. Flooding can become a serious problem faster than you'd think, so don't leave this until it actually happens as you will not have time.
The Environment Agency has a guide to help with preparing a personal flood plan.
There are some actions you can take now, to make sure you're ready for a future flood.
- Store important documents safely, either higher than the flood water or protect them in polythene.
- Plan how you can stop flood water entering your property. Research different products on the National Flood Forum's Blue Pages. Don't just rely on sandbags as they aren't always available, or the most effective method.
- Check your insurance policy covers you for flooding.
- Familiarise yourself with flood warning levels, so that you understand an event as it is unfolding.
- Identify who can help you in the event of flooding - where you can go, or store possessions, when flooding is imminent. Similarly, identify who you can help - look out for your friends, family and neighbours, particularly those most vulnerable such as the elderly.
- If you have pets, find somewhere safe to take them before a flood.
- If you have a car, find somewhere safe to park it before a flood. If your car is already in flood water do not attempt to move it.
- Know where the stop-valves are for your water, gas and electricity so you can turn these off quickly if needed.
What to include in your flood kit
- Important documents, such as your passports and insurance certificates.
- A wind up torch and radio in case of a loss of power.
- Rubber gloves and wellington boots.
- A first aid kit including any prescription medicine.
- Bottled water - the water from the tap may become contaminated.
- Non-perishable or tinned food.
- Blankets and warm clothing, in case of a prolonged loss of power.
If your home is particularly at risk of flooding, it can be difficult to insure. The National Flood Forum can help you get insurance and reduce your premium or excess. The British Insurance Brokers' Association can help you find a broker that specialises in properties that are difficult to insure.
Your insurer may ask for an Insurance Related Request Letter, which you can get from the Environment Agency. Your insurance company will use this letter when deciding whether to insure your property and how much it will cost. This takes into account the likelihood of your property flooding, including the impact of any current or planned local flood defences.
If you live near a watercourse, such as a stream or ditch, you may have a responsibility for its maintenance and to remove blockages.
The responsibility for managing watercourses is often shared between the borough council, the Environment Agency and private land owners.
If you own land that borders a watercourse, you are known as a 'riparian owner'. This can also apply to property which is separated from a watercourse by fencing.
Removing blockages is vital to preventing flooding so you should take your riparian responsibility seriously. The Environment Agency can take action against you if you don't maintain the watercourse.
Building near a watercourse
If you intend to build on or near a ditch, you must get permission from the Environment Agency. Even if the ditch appears to be dry, it may be important for drainage and any construction may increase the risk of flooding in the area. Environment Agency can take legal action against you if you do not get permission, requiring the removal of the structure.
Additional information about how you can better prepare for emergencies can be found at Surrey Prepared.
Getting together with your local community to make an emergency plan is the most powerful way you can minimise the impact of an emergency situation on your own household.
Your community could be your neighbours and those that live near you, or it could be a local club or organisation that you're part of, such as a sports club or religious group. Whoever your community is with, you should ask yourself the following questions:
- Are you aware of the risks you and your community might face, e.g. flooding?
- How can you help yourself and those around you during an emergency?
- What can you do to get involved in emergency planning in your community?
Make a community emergency plan
By planning in advance, you will be better prepared to respond in an emergency and better equipped to recover in the long-term.
Simple community emergency plans identify:
- a coordination/meeting point (e.g. village hall)
- short-term safe refuge places for people displaced from their home
- emergency volunteers
- useful emergency equipment
- vulnerable people in the community
- useful emergency contacts.
We work with the Environment Agency and Surrey County Council to prepare local communities to cope in times of emergency. We provide community groups with advice on how to create a community plan that works alongside the emergency services and responding agencies. We also hold events to bring community groups together to discuss their plans and share knowledge and experience.
If you are interested in setting up a community group, or already have a group and would like to know more, please contact us so we can update you on important news and events. We can also answer any questions you might have, or meet to discuss potential or existing plans.
Caroline Yormesor from Applied Resilience is the Community Resilience Lead for Runnymede Borough Council: email@example.com
Register to volunteer during an emergency
It can be difficult to involve new volunteers in the midst of an emergency, but you can register your interest before an emergency arises, via Voluntary Support North Surrey.
Voluntary Support North Surrey will connect you with groups/agencies in your area who provide emergency assistance. You will be given details of the type of help needed in an incident and any training that will be provided.