Flooding: the ten most common questions answered

Flooding: the ten most common questions answered
The Environment Agency and British Red Cross are urging younger people specifically to learn how to look after themselves and their communities in times of flooding.

While their joint report highlights that young people are the most at risk in a flood, at Groundsure we want everyone to be aware of the risks associated with flooding, the potential for flooding where they live or own property, and the ways that can affect their property or any transactions they may be considering.

Our 7-in-1 Groundsure Avista report reveals the potential risk of flooding that may impact a home, but we also want to make sure that people know what to do should flooding happen to them.

The way we hope to do this? Answer some of the most commonly asked questions on the subject. We used a handy tool called ‘Answer The Public’ to see what people are Googling about flooding.

Image reference: https://answerthepublic.com/

We then pulled out 10 of the most common questions about flooding to answer below:
1. What causes flooding?
2. Where does flooding occur in the UK?
3. Can flooding be predicted?
4. Can flooding be prevented?
5. Does flooding cause harm to health?
6. Will flooding affect house prices?
7. How do I find out what flood zone I am in?
8. What can I do about flooding?
9. Who to contact about flooding
10. What should I know about buying a house at risk of flooding?

1. What causes flooding?

Flooding can be caused by a variety of factors. It can be caused by human error – like a washing machine leaking leading to water in a home, but also through environmental factors like extreme rainfall events or high sea levels.

At Groundsure, we focus on environmental risk, where flooding has been caused by groundwater, surface water and flooding from rivers and the sea. We also advise on historic flood events and the presence of flood defences.

Each type of flooding is a result of a different set of circumstances.

The types of flooding that we’re looking at in this article are: Groundwater flooding, surface water flooding and river and coastal flooding.

2. Where does flooding happen in the UK? 

Groundwater flooding can happen in many geological environments, but is a particular problem on chalk and limestone aquifers. These areas are more prevalent in South and South East of England.

Surface water flooding happens anywhere that water is unable to permeate the ground, or sewer system, and therefore overflows.

Fluvial (river) and coastal flooding occurs in proximity to rivers and the sea, respectively.

You can find out if any type of flooding risk might have an impact on your property by purchasing a Flood report from Groundsure. Alternatively, visit https://www.gov.uk/check-flood-risk for further resources.

3. Can flooding be predicted

According to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (better known as NASA) – “Predicting floods is notoriously tricky.” Prediction depends on a variety of data points, including rainfall, soil moisture and recent rainfall. Rain storms and heavy snowfall can also create unexpected conditions that are even harder to factor in.

However, this doesn’t mean reasonable attempts aren’t made. The Flood Forecasting Centre (FFC) is a partnership between the Met Office and the Environment Agency (EA) combining meteorology and hydrology expertise to forecast for river, tidal and coastal flooding as well as extreme rainfall which may lead to surface water flooding.

The centre forecasts for all natural forms of flooding – river, surface water, tidal/coastal and groundwater. You can find out more here.

4. Can flooding be prevented?

Floods can be managed through structural and non-structural approaches.

Structural approaches involve the use of physical structures to prevent, divert or mitigate the impacts of flooding.

Non-structural approaches include core processes, such as:

  • the detection and forecasting of potential flood conditions
  • the issuing and dissemination of warnings
  • the planning and implementation of responses to flood emergencies

And non-core processes, such as:

  • the operation of structural flood defences
  • complex information and media management
  • close collaboration with a range of professional FIM partners

There is no single body responsible for managing flood risk in the UK because of the role of the devolved administrations in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales. Responsibility is joint among a number of bodies, who are detailed here.

Flood Incident Management FIM, a project developed by the EA, combines prediction and prevention to reduce the impact that floods have on the UK.
It aims to reduce the impacts of flooding on society and the economy through non-structural interventions, such as those described above.

5. Does flooding cause harm to health?

Public Health England (PHE) report that flood water may be contaminated by a number of sources, which, if ingested, can lead to infectious diseases. Flood water may be polluted by chemicals or animal faeces, if the water has run off fields, and sewage can rise and escape through drains. Rodents from the sewers can also wind up in flood water. Other risks include injuries, drowning, contact with chemicals, being stranded, having no power or clean water.

They offer advice and answers on their website: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/flooding-questions-and-answers-about-health

The UK Public Health Register (UKPHR) suggests that there may also be an impact to mental health following a flood, on top of the potential risk to physical health.

6. Will flooding affect house prices?

A flooding event can have an impact on the price a potential buyer is willing to pay for the property. As a seller has to declare any flood events or incidents that have impacted the property, prior to the sale, it may deter a buyer from proceeding with the purchase.

Alternatively, they may negotiate a lower purchase price to account for any potential costs that could be incurred from any flooding that may occur after purchase.

You may find that it is harder to sell a property at the price you had hoped for if the property does have a history of flooding – in order to sell you may need to reduce the asking price in order to make a sale.

7. How do I find out what flood zone I am in?

You can find out what flood zone the property is located in by purchasing a Groundsure Flood, or Groundsure Avista (the 7-in-1 report). Alternatively, you can conduct research on the government website: https://flood-map-for-planning.service.gov.uk/

This service is designed to give planners an indication of the risk of flooding at a site, all you need to use it is the property postcode, grid reference or easting/northing.

From this screenshot of the Flood Map for Planning website you can see that this sample location is nearby to an area identified as flood zone 3. But it is located within flood zone 2.

8. What can I do about flooding?

The most important thing you can do about flooding is know if your property is at risk, and prepare for the risk accordingly.

Below we offer some practical advice about what to do before, during and after a flood.

This article from the fire service outlines what you should do in the following stages:

  • Preparing for the flood
  • When a flood starts
  • After a flood has finished

Preparing for a flood

  • Keep a list of useful numbers somewhere you’ll remember
  • Make a flood kit with useful items such as torch, medication, emergency numbers
  • Buy or make some sandbags
  • Find out where to turn off your gas and electricity supplies

During a flood

  • Stay alert – listen to local radio and TV for announcements
  • Don’t walk or drive through floodwater
  • Don’t touch items that have been in contact with the water

After a flood

  • Call your insurance company
  • Contact the gas, electricity and water companies
  • Ventilate your home
  • Watch out for broken glass or nails while you clear up
  • Don’t turn any electrical items back on. Make sure they’ve dried out first

9. Who should I contact about flooding?

To sign up for warnings from the Environment Agency (EA) ahead of flood events, visit: https://www.gov.uk/sign-up-for-flood-warnings
To prepare, visit: https://nationalfloodforum.org.uk/about-flooding/preparing/checklist-action-plan/

If you want to report a flood, or a possible cause of flooding, visit: https://www.gov.uk/report-flood-cause
To get help during a flood, use the resources here: https://www.gov.uk/help-during-flood
And: https://nationalfloodforum.org.uk/about-flooding/during/during-a-flood/

How to ensure you clean up safely after a flood: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/floods-how-to-clean-up-your-home-safely
And: https://nationalfloodforum.org.uk/about-flooding/recovering/what-should-i-do/

10. What should I know about buying a house with a flooding risk?

The most important thing you need to know about buying a property with a risk of flooding is to be prepared. Find out as much as you can about any previous flood events that have affected the property, and what sort of flood risk presents the greatest threat to the home.

If you know what risks you may be facing, it is easier to prepare for a flood, should it happen, or prevent a flood from impacting your home.

Be aware of any insurance premiums which may be influenced by flood risk, and ensure that you take this into consideration when making your purchase offer.

Groundsure Avista offers seven key environmental searches including flooding, intelligently filtered to produce the most comprehensive risk report on the market. Click here to find out more about Avista.

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Jun 25, 2019

Faye McKeever