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UK News Flash floods could follow drought and UK households are unprepared, campaigners fear

22:31  09 august  2022
22:31  09 august  2022 Source:   inews.co.uk

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Many UK households are unprepared for flash flooding that could follow the prolonged period of dry weather the UK has been experiencing, a flood resilience campaigners have warned.

Mary Long-Dhonau, who is based in Worcester and has survived being flooded on numerous occasions, has called for surface water flood warnings to be rolled out by more local authorities to enable at-risk communities to be alerted so they can better safeguard themselves and valuable possessions.

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Heather Shepherd, flood recovery specialist, National Flood Forum, also called on the authorities to intervene more, adding individuals alone preparing is not enough to build flood resilience.

“We see that there’s an awful lot of burden that’s placed on communities,” she said.

“And some of these things are completely out of control for communities, you know, it’s not something that they’re in charge of.”

Ms Shepherd added that socially deprived areas were particularly seeing business cases for investment to build resilience against flooding denied.

“They are considered not cost-effective to do anything with which is why they continually flood,” she said.

Warm and dry weather is currently dominating the forecast for the UK but some rain is forecast for the weekend – and wetter conditions are likely in autumn and winter.

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The extreme heat and prolonged dry weather have led to exceptionally low river flows and prompted reservoir levels to fall across much of England, the Environment Agency said.

While rain is forecast for Sunday, Met Office spokesperson Stephen Dixon told i: “At the moment, there’s not predicted on Sunday, in particular, to be widespread rain in any level that might boost reservoir levels”.

Mr Dixon said as we move towards next week and into more of an unsettled field the conditions could invite more potential for rain.

He added: “It’s too early at this stage to say just how much rain that might be and to give precise locations as to how far southeast that might get.”

While rivers may not be the source of flooding that follows the dry period, heavy downpours on the extremely parched ground could result in surface water flooding, putting urban areas in particular at risk.

Ms Shepherd said the National Flood Forum was concerned about flooding following the exceptionally dry spell.

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She said: “When it comes to urban areas, again, they’re seeing really sharp, heavy, intense rainfalls after this sort of weather, which overwhelms really any kind of draining system or anything that’s in place, becomes uncontrollable and it’s usually this vast event where people quickly flood and it’s there in minutes and then disappears just as quickly.”

Ms Long-Dhonau said water stressed areas and urban areas with a large proportion of paved over roads could be hardest hit.

“Those areas will suddenly find them unexpectedly flooding and people will be unprepared for that fact,” she said.

This is because heavy, intense showers that fall on dry ground tend to run off the surface as the soil is unable to absorb the rain fast enough.

Ms Long-Dhonau said: “When the rain falls it will hit the ground running and people will be flooded not from rivers, but from surface water flooding. More people in the UK are at risk of surface water flooding anyway than river flooding and that’s a sad fact that a lot of people aren’t aware of.”

According to the Environment Agency latest flood risk assessment, produced in 2008, one million of the 2.4 million properties ate risk of flooding from rivers and the sea in England are also at risk of surface flooding, while a further 2.8 million properties are at risk of surface flooding alone.

Ms Long-Dhonau said the prevalence of concrete in urban areas could exacerbate the issue.

She said: “A lot of London is paved over, concreted over, tarmacked over and so when the rain comes – enormous amounts of rain – there is nowhere for it to go and the drains get overwhelmed because of the hard ground that it’s falling on. When we think about the fact that we’ve had no rain at all for so long … everywhere is literally the same, it’s like concrete – very, very hard.”

As well as encouraging households to develop a flood plan, Ms Long-Dhonau urged people to maintain their home insurance.

“We’ve got people that are really going to be hard hit with with choosing to eat or to heat their homes. I think there’ll be some very hard choices to be made over whether to maintain the home insurance, that could be one thing that goes, so many people may not have flood insurance and find themselves suddenly and unexpectedly flooded.”

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usr: 1
This is interesting!