All too often residents assume that the local authority or Fire and Rescue
will be able to provide sandbags when they realise that there is a risk of flooding.
What people do not realise is that the advance warning systems for flooding
is unable to provide much notice.
Advance warning systems for river flooding comes from gauges which measure
the increasing height of the river. This provides at best about two hours notice
of a flood event from a river.
Flooding from surface water from fields, roads and streams comes with no advance
warning other than the weather forecast for heavy rain or the recognised fact
that snow-melt causes flooding.
It is therefore important that residents ensure that they do not wait until
their property is at risk of flooding before ensuring that they have sandbags
or other more permanent flood defence measures.
The following advice will help people to ensure that they make the most of
available information and take advantage of available services to protect their
properties from flooding.
ADVICE TO RESIDENTS AT RISK OF FLOODING
1. Sources of Flooding
Flooding can arise from main rivers, streams, ditches or flow across fields
Try to find out where the source of likely flooding may come from as this will
help you to prepare to defend your property from flooding.
Remember that it does not need to be raining heavily in your area for the
rivers or streams to overflow since often the flooding is a result of heavy rain
further up the river or stream.
2. Prepare for Flooding
Do not wait until flooding is imminent before taking action to protect your
property. Your Fire and Rescue service or local authority will take time to deliver
sandbags to you once you contact them, since it takes them time to get staff
from home to work to collect and deliver sandbags.
Once you recognise that flood waters are threatening your home it is likely
that there will not be adequate time to deliver sandbags. Remember that you may
recognise the risk of flooding long before your local authority or Fire and Rescue
Service realise that there is a problem. Do not assume that someone can deliver
sandbags in time to protect you from flooding.
Make sure that you keep a stock of sandbags on your property at all times,
so that you can place them out as soon as you receive warnings of rising river
levels or heavy rainfall in the region. Sandbags can be kept in a pile in a corner
of your garden and can be placed to minimise there unsightly appearance if kept
under a tarpaulin or similar covering.
Sandbags should be checked regularly and the new poly propylene sandbags,
rather than jute, will last for a while in the open, but will become frail in
time. Check them at least every six months and throw away any that split when
you move them.
Your local authority will supply sandbags to properties at risk of flooding.
You will normally have to collect them yourself since anyone unable to collect
the sandbags will not be able to make use of them during a flood.
Only in an emergency, or when people do not possess a vehicle, will they be
4. Flood Protection Equipment
There are proprietary flood defence products available that will enable you
with little time or effort to erect flood defences to doors, French windows,
vents, sinks and drainage outlet pipes that will protect you from a sudden flood.
The Environment Agency website provides details of proprietary products that
can be fitted to doors, air vents, toilets, sinks and windows to resist flooding.
If your property is subject to repeated floods then more permanent flood defence
measures should be considered.
Flood protection installed on your property if it is at risk should be considered
in the same way as central heating, double glazing and alarm systems.
They are all expensive measures designed to protect your property and need
to be installed and then replaced every 20 years or so.
5. Act Now
The last flood may have been a traumatic experience, but perhaps it has not
happened very often.
However, the fact is that flooding can happen at any time and when it does,
there is little that can be done, unless you are prepared with either sandbags
or installed flood protection equipment.
ACT NOW by ensuring that you organise a supply of sandbags, while the local
authority is not responding to flood requests.
Consider whether the risk is great enough or regular enough that you need
to install flood protection to your doors, windows, vents and drains.
For a supply of sandbags contact Northumberland County Council contact
centre who will advise you on how and where to collect sandbags.