Flooding is the biggest threat the UK faces as a result of climate change. A warmer atmosphere can hold more moisture, which means rainfall and storms can be more intense. Alongside this, as sea water warms, it expands.
A recent study published in Geophysical Research Letters, found human activities responsible for 87% of the sea level rise which has occurred since 1970. Using the most recent data, even with stringent carbon dioxide emission reductions, sea level rise could still exceed 60cm by the end of the century.
This winter we have had multiple ‘unprecedented’ floods; perhaps a sign of things to come.
Being flooded is horrible. Filthy brown water devastates the ground floor of your house, and insurance claims run into tens of thousands of pounds. You are likely to be out of the house for around 9 months whilst it is repaired. By planning ahead, you can minimise the risk of this happening to your home.
Before starting a building project, check your flood risk, but remember – anywhere it can rain, it can flood.
Houses are naturally porous and water is likely to enter through the weakest points. A study showed 300l/minute of water could enter the average property through the bricks alone.
It may be possible to build the ground up above the flood level. Try to keep the water away from your property. This could be done using walls, or perhaps a product like the Water-Gate barrier. Pumps are often overlooked, but groundwater flooding is recognised as a significant source of flooding in the UK. If you have one foot of rain (as Cumbria recently did) this is one foot of rain either side of your flood defences, so pumps must be in place to deal with it. It is also important not to forget to fit a non-return valve to your sewerage. Some people do not realise they are flooding until sewage starts backing up out of the toilets.
Flood defences reduce the risk of flooding, but do not remove it. Flooding and its effects are always unpredictable and can vary from property to property. Flood resilience is therefore important too. Consider having electric sockets raised up, and having ceramic floor tiles instead of carpet etc.
The same methods can be used to help protect housing developments. Flood defences can make houses much more saleable, and reduce insurance premiums.
Community Level Resilience is fantastic, and on a housing development it would be sensible to include ‘resilience hubs’. These hubs would be accessed in emergencies and could include pumps, torches, high vis jackets and Water-Gate barriers. The Water-Gate barrier is a reusable temporary roll out flood defence. These would enable residents to be more proactive and defend their homes.
Sandbags have proved ineffective and expensive. Newer proven technology should be embraced.