Flooding in the Midlands – Are you prepared?

Environment By Matthew Coombes

Flooding in the Midlands

Whether you’re close to a river or not, it’s likely that you’ve been affected in some way by Storm Ciara and Storm Dennis. With more heavy rain forecast across the country, we must prepare however we can to deal with these floods.

On Monday (17/02/2020) The River Wye in Hereford at Hereford Bridge reached and surpassed its highest level recorded, and at its peak measured around 6.11m, the highest level on record since 1998. While the river levels at Hereford Bridge have lowered since Monday, they are still close to the flood warning line, and with more rain on the way, this could mean more flooding to the local area.

The River Severn has also reached a record high –  in the city of Worcester, river levels have been close to the highest level recorded for around three days. The floods in Worcester have turned roads into rivers, and whole sections of the city that are close to the river are now partially submerged.  Worcester News has published pictures by locals that show the extent to which the water has risen across the city.

The Environment Agency have been working tirelessly across the entire country to put up and maintain flood defences. The flood defences in Bewdley, Worcestershire have been set as high as 6m, so high that Midlands Environment Agency workers have had to use scaffolding to put the final panels of the defences in place. There are flood warnings in place for miles along the River Severn, and Bewdley has been hit with floodwaters as high as 5.24m, over 1m above the levels that you would expect to see property damage and flooding occur. The main roads approaching the town have been completely flooded and closed off for the safety of the public. Flood Warnings in Bewdley

So what can you do to prepare for floods?

Use the government flood warning website to see if the area that you are in has any flood warnings. The website contains an interactive map that shows all relevant flood warnings for any particular area, including the severity of the flooding and what is meant by different types of flood warning.

Getting information:

If you’re in an area that has a flood warning, you can contact your local council, or call Floodline for advice on how to stay safe in a flood (calls may cost up to 9p per minute from a landline, and from 3p to 55p a minute from a mobile).
Alternatively, you can find information online; in the Midlands, the Environment Agency has an active Twitter feed that gives regular updates including flood information, flood warnings, images of affected areas, road closures and more. https://twitter.com/EnvAgencyMids

If you’re in the Midlands and want to see what our Environment Agency are actively doing, a great source of information comes from Dave Throup, who is the Environment Agency manager for the Herefordshire and Worcestershire area. Dave gives regular updates on what the hard-working people of the Environment Agency are doing to try and reduce the impact that this inclement weather is having on our local area, and shares information such as road closures and images of the affected areas. https://twitter.com/DaveThroupEA

Staying Safe:

Plan your travel:

If you are travelling by car,  plan your route in advance according to the flood warnings. With Worcester as an example, even areas that are not close to the river but are close to the floodplains have been completely submerged in water that would be dangerous to drive through.
It only takes 30cm of flowing water to move your car, that’s the length of the average ruler. Driving through floodwater is the biggest cause of death during floods, and it only takes an egg cupful of water to wreck your engine. Even standing water is not safe to drive through; just 60cm of standing water will cause your car to float.

Follow local and general advice:

Your local council may be able to provide you with advice if your area is likely to be affected by flooding.
If you cannot find any information then follow this advice from the Environment Agency:
Environment Agency Advice
Credit for the above image: Environment Agency

Protect your property:

With reference to the above advice, if you find yourself in an area with a flood alert and you have time to prepare your property, consider the following:
Where reasonable move sentimental and valuable items in your house as high up as you can to try and prevent the floodwater from reaching it. Flood water damages nearly everything that it touches, especially if you are unable to return to your property as the flood levels remain high, stacking furniture on top of other furniture may reduce your losses from damage if the water doesn’t reach it or carry it away.

Pack an emergency bag:

As soon as you receive a warning to prepare for possible floods, gather together any prescription medication and important documents such as birth certificates, insurance documents, and passports, and pack into a secure bag that is then stored as high up as possible. Take this with you in case of evacuation. Make a physical note (not on a phone or tablet) of any important contacts such as phone numbers for relatives, work, local kennels/catteries, B&B’s, and local authorities – mobile phones can run out of battery and electricity may not be available to recharge it. Torches, bottled water, baby care items and warm clothing/blankets may also come in handy.

Stock up on clean water

If flooding reaches the stage where you are advised to turn off the gas, electricity and water supply for your property, make sure to fill as many saucepans and jugs as possible with clean water before you do. Store these upstairs where they can be easily reached and not contaminated with floodwater.

Remember hygiene

Floodwater is contaminated with sewage and other forms of bacteria. Try to avoid touching it if you can, and make sure to wash your hands thoroughly afterwards if it is unavoidable.

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