Winter readiness

As flooding events of national significance are becoming more common, CLA Land Use Policy Adviser Alice Green offers tips and advice on how best to prepare for flooding season

Flooding events of national significance are getting more common. February 2020 was the wettest since 1910, with more than double the average rainfall expected for the month. In parts of Wales, rainfall was more than triple the average. The 2020/2021 season saw some significant storms too. Storm Bella, arriving just in time for boxing day, caused widespread disruption, with 30-50 mm of rain falling across much of England and Wales in two days.

Unfortunately, many more people will experience the devastating effects of flooding this winter. So, it is important that we do what we can to prepare for extreme weather before it hits.

5 tips to minimise damage this winter

  1. Check the forecast

The first thing to do is to sign up for the relevant flood warnings and alerts, so that you hear about a potential flood before it happens. If you are in Wales, sign up for flood warnings from Natural Resources Wales here. For anyone in England, the Environment Agency has new flood checking service here. You can also check the Met Office Weather Warnings page. Save it to your favorites bar for easy access.

2. Review your insurance

If you are affected by flooding, you will want to have the right protection in place. Check the contents of your policy and make sure it provides adequate cover and is not due to expire. Keep a note of the number you need to call if you need to make a claim. The CLA’s legal team is always on hand to provide advice.

It’s worthwhile taking some time stamped photos of your property to record its current condition – before any damage occurs. This can be useful evidence in any future claims.

3. Create an emergency flood response plan

Prepare for the worst with an action plan and make sure this is communicated to everyone on site. This might include:

  • Emergency telephone numbers
  • Roles and responsibilities
  • How to turn off gas, electricity and water supplies
  • Identify suitable locations, such as higher ground, where equipment and livestock may be able to be moved (this could involve collaborating with neighbours to minimise damage)
  • Location of chemicals and fuels which might cause pollution and where to move them to
  • Location of flood mitigation material and how to use them

4. Move what you can in advance

If you know certain parts of your site are more likely to flood, ensure equipment and livestock is not stored there if possible.

Similarly, moving valuable items in your home to higher shelves will reduce the risk of them getting damaged should water enter your property. You can also buy various flood protection devices for doors, or raise thresholds.

5. Build flood resilience on site

It may be possible to direct water flows away from your property by using swales or to create run-off ponds which can hold water. This can be considered in advance of heavy rainfall events.

Keeping a stockpile of resources to assist with mitigating flooding, such as sandbags, is also useful. These can be used to divert the flow, prevent water going under doors into buildings, and artificially build up river banks. Use plywood and plastic sheets with the sandbags for a better chance of keeping water away. Make sure you have a good stock on site and that the relevant people know where to find them and how to use them.

Find out about Forage Aid- a charity dedicated to helping agricultural communities affected by extreme weather events