Guest blog: Mary Dhonau OBE – Chief Executive, Know Your Flood Risk
Updated guide to flood resilience
Having been flooded myself, I know only too well how appalling it can be – being flooded is a life changing experience. I have since supported many people going through the same misery, and everyone has a heart-wrenching story to tell. On top of all the other ‘stuff’ going on in our lives, being flooded can often break people.
In recent years I have been on a mission: to raise awareness of flood risk. I hadn’t the first clue I was at risk of being flooded – there was no sea, river, stream or ditch outside my home to alert me (it turned out to be a sewer problem, hence the raw sewage that invaded my home). An increasing proportion of flood insurance claims is now from surface water flooding – so, in my book everyone is at risk of being flooded and we should all be aware!
Last winter’s floods confirmed something I’ve said many times – a flood alleviation scheme can only reduce the risk of being flooded and doesn’t take it away completely. Because of that fact, I’ve become a passionate advocate for promoting Flood Resilience – because being flooded is not the worst part, it is the many long months of recovery that take their toll. Being aware, having a plan and taking precautions to reduce our own flood risk is half the battle.
How to protect your home
Being told to ‘protect our own homes from being flooded’ is all very well, but just how do we do this? Working with Carly Rose, Know Your Flood Risk campaign’s experienced PhD researcher (who has herself been flooded), we reviewed all the currently available measures that can be adopted to reduce the impact flooding can have at a home/property level. These are clearly listed, with a description of what they are for, as well as the kind of flooding to which they are best suited.
In addition, I interviewed many people who have been flooded but have chosen to adapt their homes to significantly reduce the awful recovery period. One couple I talked to in York told me that after the flood water has gone, they can be back to normality within only one hour – he hoses the house down, she cleans and disinfects, then they get the dehumidifiers out and put everything back in place again. Now that’s what I call ‘flood resilient’!
Unraveling who does what about flooding
Another thing I have often found puzzling is ‘who does what’ in the world of flood risk management. Being told ‘it’s not our water’, when your home is full of the stuff, is extremely frustrating to say the least. We have therefore added a new section that lists the risk management bodies, together with related organisations across the whole UK, and explains in simple terms what each of them does.
We have also got an updated section on Flood Re – the new way flood insurance is provided for those at high risk, many of whom will have struggled to obtain cover in the past. Although this may bring peace of mind, now that flood insurance is available and affordable, with a capped low excess, it still cannot take away the awful impacts of being flooded and forced out of our homes for months on end.
Whilst it may not be always possible to stop flood water getting into a home, my hope is that by reading this guide, people at risk of being flooded can understand what they can do to reduce the awful aftermath and recover from being flooded far more quickly than in the past!
Mary Dhonau OBE – Chief Executive, Know Your Flood Risk
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Published 6 February 2017