Residents who know their homes are located in places that are naturally at risk of flooding,are being urged to prepare for wet weather inthe coming months.
Around 500 homes were flooded in Wiltshire lastwinter.
The latest three-month outlook from the Met Office suggests it will be wetter than average until the end of January, with weather fronts coming from the Atlantic Ocean, and a series of Atlantic storms sweeping across the country.
Flooding is a natural event and no drainage or flood protection system can give absolute immunity. But simple measures can make all the difference.
When flooding strikes, there is often little time to respond. That’s why residentswho know they may beat risk should have a contingency plan in place for how they can best protect themselves and their families, as well as their homes and possessions.
Simple preparations, such as knowing how to turn off the electricity, gas and water supply in your property, and having key contacts programmed into your mobile phone, can make all the difference in a flooding incident.
Flash flooding can occur when heavy rain falls over a short period of time. The ground cannot absorb this amount of water quickly enough, drainage systems are overwhelmed and flooding occurs. This flooding is normally short-lived and often there is very little notice.
Within Wiltshire there arealsoareas where the substructure of the land is made up of different layers of rock, which hold water.If it rains continuously for a long period they discharge the excess water into streams, rivers and springs causing groundwater flooding,days or weeks after the rain.
In places like Tisbury, experts knowthe flooding will occur four days after the heavy rain. As the water saturates down through Salisbury Plain, the water table naturally equalises itself, which means the floodwater rises up out of the ground as it tries to align itself with the water levels on the plain.
Jonathon Seed, cabinet member for flooding,said:
Last winter we saw people pull together locally to help vulnerable neighbours in times of need and enact flood plans to minimise the disruption.
I would urge people living in areas which we know are prone to flooding to do all they can to protect their homes in advance.
We will continue to work with our partners throughout the winter to ensure the often devastating disruption caused by flooding is kept to an absolute minimum.”
The Environment Agency website – www.environment-agency.gov.uk – provides detailed updates about flooding.The site also includes details of how you can sign up for regular email or phone flood alerts.You can also sign up by phoning Floodline on 0845 988 1188 or Typetalk 0845 602 6340.
It also offers a step-by-step guide to developing your household’s own personal flood action plan.
As a property owner it is your responsibility to protect your property from flooding. Removable flood gates and covers for air bricks will often be effective in keeping water out for the vital few hours that water rises.
The council is unable to supply sandbags to individuals in advance of any flood warnings but towns and parishes can bid for food defence equipment including sandbags under the Parish Emergency Alleviation Scheme. Individuals should proactively make their own arrangements to purchase sandbags, which are available from builders’ merchants.
The council has a limited supply of sandbags and any requests for them during an emergency will be considered on a case-by-case basis and prioritised by level of need or vulnerability – for example the elderly or infirm and the protection of commercial property to prevent environmental pollution.
If you are in imminent dangerof flooding telephone the council on 0300 456 0105 or out of hours call 01722 413834.
If you live in a known flood area your parish council will have been encouraged to develop a flood plan and recruit flood wardens.
The plan should detail how your community will react in a flood situation and what advice and assistance is available locally. Contact your parish council to find out more or to get involved in reducing the impact of flooding to yourself and your community. In Bradford on Avon, which was hit by flooding last year, a drive is currently underway to find 30 community emergency volunteers who will be trained to help deal with flooding incidents.