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Flooding – be prepared and know what to do

Many residents across Cambridgeshire will remember the wet weather and flooding we experienced during the Christmas period last year.

Whether the cause is excess surface water, blocked ditches and drains or rivers overflowing, flooding is very upsetting and could happen to anyone, as residents of Peterborough experienced in July when heavy downpours flooded many areas in the city centre.

This Flood Action Week (starting Monday November 22) the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Resilience Forum, is urging all residents and businesses to be prepared and know what to do should flooding occur.

The Local Resilience Forum is made up of many agencies working across the county including the county and local authorities, emergency services, the Environment Agency, health agencies, Highways Agency, utility companies, the voluntary sector and military. Many of these organisations have different responsibilities for flooding, either working hard to invest in flood management maintenance and infrastructure that will provide the most benefit to communities affected by flooding or as emergency services and others responding to flooding incidents.

During the last year, many local communities have worked to develop flood preparedness plans, which identify vulnerable points in their town or village, including homes that are more at risk, and they bring together ‘flood groups’ – people who spring into action to help others if there’s a risk of flooding. You can find out if your local areas has one, or find out more information about setting one up, by emailing cfap@cambridgeshire.gov.uk.

Residents and business owners have an important role to play too. Being prepared, knowing what to do if your home or business floods and taking some simple steps can not only save lives but and can also reduce the potential damage by around 40%.

Here are some top tips:

  • If you’re in a flood risk area, find out about insurance and how to reduce your premiums https://www.floodre.co.uk/flood-resources/  
  • Buy or make your own sandbags. A quick internet search will list stockists or show how to make them. Do not rely on being given them by the local authority as many do not keep a supply to hand out.
  • Know how to isolate the electrics in your home and turn the gas off should you need to. Keep your insurance documents somewhere safe and handy, and make a checklist of what you need to remember to pack should you need to leave your home in a hurry – things like medication or provisions for young children and babies.
  • If your neighbour or elderly/vulnerable relative lives in a flood risk area, make sure they know what to do and who to contact.
  • Avoid driving through flood water. It can damage your car and it is surprising how little water it takes to float a car, putting you in danger. Do not ignore Road Closed signs.
  • In a life risk situation, always dial 999.

Chief Fire Officer Chris Strickland, who chairs the Local Resilience Forum, said: “As agencies working together, we try to mitigate the impact of flooding, however it is almost impossible to stop it happening on every occasion. We cannot stress enough how important it is for residents and business to be prepared and know what to do should their home or business flood. It is incredibly distressing when it happens and so giving it some thought beforehand will help people focus should plans ever be needed.

“Sadly with widespread flooding there isn’t always anything the fire service or other agencies can do, except if there is risk to harm or life, it is a case of waiting until the water subsides again and beginning the clean-up operation with insurance companies. Emergency services’ control rooms are inundated when flooding occurs and we prioritise calls to help those who are most vulnerable and who may need help getting out of their property. People often believe we can just pump the water away but it isn’t that simple. We have to have somewhere to pump the water to that won’t cause someone else a problem or come straight back in again so with widespread flooding it is often impossible.”

A spokesperson from the Environment Agency added: “Flooding can be devastating. That’s why we urge everyone to prepare for the worst by taking some simple steps. Check if you live in an at-risk area, sign up for free flood warnings, and have plan in place to protect yourselves, your loved ones and your valuables. A personal flood plan will help keep you safe and reduce the cost of potential damage – download one now at check-for-flooding.service.gov.uk/plan-ahead-for-flooding.”

Follow @Cambsfrs @EnvAgency and @CambsCCC on Twitter and Facebook this week for lots of help and advice on behalf of the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Resilience Forum.

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