1st November 2018
As I write – exactly 18 years on from the widespread and devastating floods of the year 2000 – I can easily recall just how appalling being flooded was. The stench, the sludge, the mess and not knowing where to start to clear up. I went to visit my neighbours, and some had suffered far more than me. One woman had an open plan kitchen and living room – containing a ‘carpet of poo’ 21ft long and several inches deep – there are no words to describe the smell!
The ‘Great Floods’ of 2000 were very widespread with Yorkshire, Sussex, Kent and communities along the Severn and Wye all being hit hard. What most people don’t know is that it’s the recovery from the floods that is the hardest bit. There are long months of being displaced from your home, trying to deal with day to day life while simultaneously becoming the ‘site manager’ for your house repairs. It is both stressful and disruptive, to put it mildly.
Since 2000 we have seen many more floods, with records being broken for rainfall, river levels and flood durations. With climate change, the frequency and severity of such events are expected to worsen still further. In recent years we have seen robust flood defences overtopped and outflanked, so we must be prepared for this to happen again in the future.
Floods cannot be stopped, but they can be managed. I look on flood risk management like a jigsaw. Lots of different solutions (such as municipal defences, temporary defences, natural flood management and sustainable drainage) all working together to reduce flood risk. However, we mustn’t forget for one moment that, at a property level, we can manage the residual risk (the final piece of that jigsaw.) We can try to keep the water out by using accredited Property Flood Resilience products and adapting our homes and businesses to reduce the impact a flood can have.
Having done this myself and not had to make an insurance claim when I was flooded, I’m evangelical about what is now called ‘recoverable repair’. It may cost a bit more but the huge reduction in the recovery stress is well worth the extra expense. (And it may well ultimately reduce the price you pay for your insurance). I have seen many homes that have been adapted and one thing I was struck by was, they looked ‘normal’ – in fact, on several occasions I’ve had a severe dose of ‘kitchen envy’!
For further comprehensive information and guidance about trying to both keep the water out from a property and recoverable repair, please download the Homeowners Guide to Flood Resilience here: http://www.knowyourfloodrisk.co.uk/sites/default/files/FloodGuide_ForHomeowners.pdf
Mary Dhonau OBE