flash flooding

We are seeing the words ‘flash flooding’ more often these days. With climate change happening all around us, flash floods are becoming more common, not just in the UK but across the world. 

The term ‘flash flood’ refers to a flood that happens when heavy rain, often associated with thunderstorms, falls in a short period of time and underlying ground cannot cope with the vast amount of water, or drain it away fast enough. 

In July we saw flash flooding across Europe as well as in the UK; London, Edinburgh, and the South of England, to name a few, all experienced heavy rainfall, leaving many towns and cities underwater. 

“Flash floods usually happen during intense rainfall - when the amount of water is too much for drains and sewers to deal with. It can occur very quickly and without much warning.”

Floods do not just affect homes and businesses, but also damage “key public infrastructure including transport networks and hospitals. In London, some hospitals had to ask patients to stay away after they lost power.”

Urban areas are generally more affected by ‘surface water’ flooding because they lack green spaces. When rain falls in these areas “it can't soak into the ground as it would do in the countryside.”

“In many places - including much of the UK - old sewer systems were built based on historic rainfall projections.” These sewer systems “cannot cope with the huge increase in population”.

“Many factors contribute to flooding, but climate change makes extreme rainfall more likely.” This is because “a warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture and so these storms become more intense.” So, we need to act now and do what we can to prevent the devastation caused by flooding. 

Dealing with these flash floods is essential to protect towns and cities from the effects that flooding can have on their property and themselves. 

“Dr. Linda Speight, a flood expert at Reading University, says urban areas could benefit from changes like "permeable pavements and green roofs that can help rainwater to soak away rather than causing floods".”

“Knowing that heavy rainfall is on its way can make it easier to mitigate against the risks of flash flooding.” Therefore, signing up to flood warnings can help you be prepared for flooding and reduce your risk.  

It is vital to understand that “living away from a river does not necessarily mean you are safe from flooding.” Flash floods can affect anyone, anywhere, regardless of where you live. 

To protect property and its contents, it is recommended that you create a flood plan. Knowing what you have to do in a flood instance, can save time. Simply moving valuables to higher, safer places or having an emergency flood kit are just a few examples of how you can be prepared. 

You may also want “to take preventative measures.” Such as when “making changes to your home, choose tiled flooring instead of carpets and move plug sockets further up the wall.”

You should be prepared for flooding, regardless of where you live. Whether this means simply signing up to flood warnings, having a flood plan in place, or taking more resilient measures and making your property flood ‘proof’. Being prepared will allow you a better chance of protecting your property and reducing the damage flooding may cause.

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