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Severe Storms / Flooding

Severe storms can produce high winds, torrential rain, hailstones, lightning and flash floods, they can cause structural damage, flooding to properties and power cuts.

Flooding due to drainage systems being unable to cope with heavy rain is also known as 'localised' or 'surface water flooding'. Flooding can also come from rivers.

Groundwater Flooding

Groundwater flooding can occur when the water table rises and reaches the surface, an animation about groundwater flooding has been produced by the Environment Agency.  Flooding from groundwater may occur days or weeks after heavy or prolonged rainfall.

Homeowners and businesses are responsible for protecting their properties.  The Environment Agency has produced a guide containing advice on flooding from Groundwater.

The Environment Agency provide briefings on the current groundwater situation for areas where the groundwater levels are high.  They can also provide flood warnings in some places concerning flooding from groundwater, details on the service can be found on their Floodline Warnings Direct page.

Before a Flood

Some actions you can take to prepare your home and family before a storm or flooding event occurs include:

Visit the Environment Agency Flood pages for detailed guidance on:

Find Out the Risk of Flooding to Your Property

Find out the chance of flooding in your area by using the Environment Agency online Flood Map.

Floodline Warnings Direct Service & Automatic Flood Warnings

The Environment Agency provides a free flood warning service, that provides a direct flood warning, by telephone, mobile, email, SMS text message or fax, if flooding is likely from rivers or the sea, in some parts of England they can also advise if flooding from groundwater is possible. Once registered for the service your contact details can be managed online.

If you think you are at risk of flooding contact Floodline on 0845 988 1188 to sign up for the service.  Check that any vulnerable neighbours or family members also receive flood warnings.

Know the Flood Warning Codes

The Environment Agency has three flood warning codes, these are:

  • Flood Alert (Flooding is possible. Be prepared)
  • Flood Warning (Flooding is expected. Immediate action required)
  • Severe Flood Warning (Severe flooding. Danger to life)

Visit the Environment Agency flood pages for further information on what to do if a flood warning is issued.

Prepare Yourself and Your Home

  • Prepare a Flood Plan and Flood Kit, a template flood plan is available via the Environment Agency.
  • Clear gutters and downpipes to allow rainwater to drain away.
  • Keep roofing material in good repair to help keep out water.
  • Visit the Environment Agency Floodline pages to get detailed advice on preparing for a flood and what to do during and after a flood.
  • If your home is at risk of flooding buy some sandbags or flood boards to block doors and airbricks, the Environment Agency provides details of where to get Kitemark certified flood products.
  • If a storm is forecast clear away items from outside your house that could be blown around and cause damage.
  • If there is a thunderstorm unplug non-essential electrical items.

If Flooding Is Imminent

  • Alert and check on neighbours particularly elderly or vulnerable neighbours.
  • Tune in to your local radio station or call Floodline for the latest information.
  • Keep items that are valuable or sentimental to you stored upstairs or in a high point downstairs.
  • Move outside items to higher ground where possible e.g. cars, dustbins, furniture.
  • Fill jugs and saucepans with clean water.
  • Locate the stop valves for your utility services, if safe to do so turn off your gas / electricity / water supplies before flood water enters your home.
  • Have your emergency kit available in case of powercuts / flooding or evacuation and include waterproof clothing and boots.
  • Keep a list of useful contacts and copies of important documents (e.g. insurance, passport, birth certificates etc) in a waterproof container upstairs or in a high point downstairs.
  • If there is time, put plugs in sinks and baths and weigh them down.

During a Flood

In the event of a major flooding incident North Hertfordshire District Council will set up a Reception Centre for those evacuated from their homes and assist with temporary accommodation (see Council Role in an Emergency).

During a flood:

  • Avoid driving if possible and do not drive through flood water.
  • Avoid walking through flood water.

If you have to leave your property:

  • Secure your home, close windows, lock doors and ensure any candles and fires are put out.
  • Take with you your emergency kit, this may include as appropriate to your situation, medication you may need, important phone numbers, personal documents, warm clothing, baby supplies, pet supplies.
  • Put cats and small animals in a secure pet carrier or box.

After a Flood

The Health Protection Agency has advice on keeping safe and well during a flood, including how to safely clean up following a flood.

The Electrical Safety Council has issued safety advice for households affected by floods.