Insights from the BRIC Project Closing Conference – March 2023, Plymouth

Project Support Officer Emily Roach Osborne reflects on the approach and learnings of the BRIC project in engaging communities and effectively, collaboratively improving climate resilience in communities.

Communities Prepared attended the Social Innovation for Climate Resilience conference in Plymouth on Wednesday 15th of March. This conclusion of the two-year Building Resilience in Communities project across the UK and France showcased the eight different programmes developed in this time, all of which sought to engage with local communities in preparing for, managing, and recovering from flooding. We were grateful to be able to attend and exhibit at what was a very interesting, informative and diverse event, and for our Programme Manager Hannah Baker to both contribute a keynote speech on the Communities Prepared programme and sit as part of a panel discussing the challenges, surprises and insights encountered when engaging communities. In her keynote speech, Hannah took the opportunity to introduce attendees to Communities Prepared and our approach, sharing examples of where and how we’ve been working to date. Hannah set out some of our learnings from engaging communities and professionals across England, and how we’re applying these to our future plans.

Communities Prepared Programme Manager Hannah Baker giving a keynote speech on Communities Prepared

     One of the biggest insights from the conference was hearing of the methods, challenges and approaches to engaging communities across the programme given frustrations with communication, information and funding, as well as complex and varying vulnerabilities, and broader contexts of the COVID pandemic, the cost of living crisis and climate change. How do we understand and meet the needs of the communities in a way that empowers them given these factors? How can we be of meaningful use to them?

     Many of the projects tackled this through creating space for listening. Be that through facilitated forums between the public and project stakeholders such as local councils, services and businesses or through storytelling, mapping and embodied walking exercises in which people shared their experiences, or creative, visualising activities. Opportunities for communities to meet and contribute to collective memory with photography projects through Thames 21’s Canvey Island pilot and to have their emotions heard (Authie Valley, France), as well as celebrate their communities in local festivals in (Plymouth, UK) and Aulne Valley, France) were powerful examples of what is meaningful to communities who have experienced flooding and are looking to heal and strengthen their resilience.

Hannah and Emily observing a presentation given in French. The conference was delivered in both English and French, with live translation throughout the day. Image courtesy of Amy Stanford Photography

     To this end, intersectionality was also discussed by Samuel Rufat of Institut Universitaire de France as a means of effectively capturing and meeting the complexity of needs within communities and demonstrates how new frameworks of understanding can inform community resilience. New technologies were also discussed by Ogoxe, a company based in France that seeks to provide reliable, accessible, free information on weather and related emergency risks, demonstrating the scope and potential of modern technology in democratising information in order to empower the public, and how funding can make this possible.

     This conference was an opportunity to consider what it means to meaningfully engage a community in a way that builds trust and respects the cost of volunteering for people within such communities during times of crisis. Some useful publications from the conference are listed below with weblinks for further insight into emergency planning, community engagement and crisis recovery. It was raised that projects like BRIC ideally need longer to achieve their objectives, and for this reason it is commendable what BRIC has achieved and learned given the impact of broader social issues like the COVID-19 pandemic and cost of living crisis. Whilst the broader project is now coming to a close, both the website and some of the pilots will stay active. Visit the BRIC website and explore the pilot sites of the project to learn more about their collaborative approach to engagement.


Flood Expo 2022

This September we’re excited to again be taking part in the Flood Expo. Held at NEC Birmingham from 14th-15th September, this is Europe’s leading Flood Management event; providing the public with an opportunity to interact with flood professionals, local authorities and communities all in one place, for free. We look forward to attending and engaging with the flood sector and wider public, as well as enhancing our knowledge and understanding of the latest technologies, services and strategies available to help predict, prevent and manage flooding.

What is most special for us about Flood Expo 2022 is the brand new -and first of its kind- Community Flood Zone. This initiative has been developed by Communities Prepared and other flood specialists with the explicit aim of centring the public in the discussion around flooding. It is a space to come with your questions, concerns and needs and help to steer the priorities of the flood services sector and the wider conversation around flooding. The Community Flood Zone will also include :

  • Mary Dhonau – answering questions and giving practical flood preparation advice using the flood mobile: a ‘flood house on wheels’ that demonstrates various property-level adaptations that can reduce the impact of flooding in your homes and business buildings. Have a look at her website ahead of the Expo.
  • Flood Re – answering questions and offering advice regarding affordable insurance options and the Build Back Better scheme for those who experience flooding in their homes. Have a look at their website ahead of the Expo.

Attending from our team is Richard Hood, Senior Project Officer with Communities Prepared. Richard is part of the programme’s delivery team, focusing on community development and training. He brings with him specialist knowledge in flood resilience and management, water rescue operations, incident management and operational procedures. He will be available to discuss your concerns and receive your questions on our Community Flood Zone stand throughout the Expo. Beyond this, insight and learning will be high on the agenda with a seminar programme packed with expert-led sessions, panels and demonstrations covering topics from flood reduction to property level flood protection, and a presentation from ITV Meteorologist and trusted voice on climate change, Laura Tobin. Richard will be taking part in a panel discussion as part of the seminar programme too; more details on this to follow.

If you or your community have been affected by flooding, we urge you come to and speak with us at the Community Flood Zone. Your contribution to the conversation is vitally important, and will enable us to continue to develop this initiative beyond this year. The entire Expo is free to attend and both welcomes and depends upon the engagement with the public, so please join us!

Follow the link to the Flood Expo website to sign up for free and see what’s in store, and please share the event with anyone you feel would benefit from it. The venue is wheelchair accessible, easily accessible by train or car and has extensive car parking facilities that you can pre-book. Feel free to contact us with any questions ahead of the event.

With less than 3 weeks to go we take a look at this year’s Flood Expo!

The agenda is live and the countdown is on for the 2021 edition of The Flood Expo! You can start planning your day and prepare for the UK’s largest exhibition designed for individuals, businesses and local authorities to discover the latest products and strategies within the flood sector. Taking place on 22-23 September at the NEC, Birmingham, it’s time to connect the industry once again.

Education and Networking at The Flood Expo

The Flood Expo boasts a unique educational programme consisting of CPD accredited, expert-led seminars and panel debates, live demonstrations of the latest technology, as well as market-leading companies, equipped with the industry’s finest solution-led products and services. Here you can discover how we can transform the way flooding is predicted, prevented, and managed. 

The three main themes for the Flood Expo cover all aspects of flood prediction, prevention and response. Flood prediction looks at the latest flood forecasting models, discovering the use of technology, including artificial intelligence, flow monitoring and land surveying, helping to move towards accurate early warning systems targeted to a regional area. Flood prevention explores the latest infrastructure, technology and techniques to protect against flooding. Exhibitors will showcase solutions for SUDs, dredging, property flood resilience and infrastructure including flood barriers. Flood response covers the equipment and solutions for when the flooding hits. Experts will present the different safety equipment, flood barriers, pumping solutions, water rescue equipment and the post flooding clean-up solutions.

Communities Prepared’s Programme Manager, Hannah Baker is speaking in the all-new Defence and Response theatre on Day 1, 22nd September at 11am. Hannah will be discussing community resilience in a post-pandemic world exploring how communities have evolved through the pandemic. The organisers of the Flood Expo are also excited to announce new additions to the CPD accredited, expert-led speaker line-up:

Live flood warnings: how it started & how it’s going

Rod Plummer, Co-founder & Managing Director at Shoothill. From the man that spearheaded the creation of Shoothill’s Flood Alerts (the UK’s first online live flood warning map) comes a talk about how the idea of Flood Alerts came about, what it led to, where things are today, and what it’s like innovating in the flood sector.

ResilenceDirect supports flood NowCasting and accessibility mapping for emergency responders

Luana Avagliano, Head of ResilienceDirect at ResilienceDirect (Cabinet Office) and Dapeng Yu, Professor of River Dynamics at Loughborough University will be discussing how ResilienceDirect are using innovation and working in partnership with Loughborough University to deliver surface water flood nowcasting and accessibility mapping for emergency responders.

Planning and Flood Risk

Richard Blyth, Head of Policy Practice & Research at Royal Town Planning Institute. This session will cover the role of the planning system in reducing flood risk and explore what the prospects are for the future in the context of planning reform and the Environment Bill.

See the full agenda here.

Brand New Feature –  Flood Barriers!

A first for the Flood Expo, we would like to welcome you to an awesome new feature of the show, the Flood Barrier Zone. An area of the floor plan dedicated to showcasing the latest flood barriers in the industry; expect to see barriers of up to 20 metres up close and personal!

NOAQ Flood Protection will be displaying their barrier that is designed so that it is automatically anchored by the weight of the flood water itself. This means the barriers are extremely light, weighing less than 1% of the sandbags, whilst remaining extremely effective. A 50 cm high barrier weighs no more than 7 kg per running metre.

Innovative Global Products will be bringing their RAPID-H20 flood barrier, a new and innovative flood control system that is extremely easy to deploy and remove from location to location. Once on site, there is no heavy equipment required for full deployment or removal, thus keeping costs to a minimum.

Your safety is the event organiser’s number one priority which is why they are doing all they can to ensure you feel at ease when attending the Expo. The unmissable seminars from leading environmental experts will have added capacity, networking zones will include more space and access, plus, high touchpoints and interactive show features are subject to enhanced sanitising and cleaning regimes. See the full list of safety measures you can expect here!

Be sure to visit Communities Prepared on stand 4-D101 and why not invite your community too? To discover the latest innovations, technological advancements and to keep up to date with the latest legislation within the flood prediction, prevention and response sectors register for your free ticket today!

Raising awareness of Property Flood Resilience in Yorkshire

We chat to Emily Howes and Lauren Davidson, Project Officers for Yorkshire Flood Resilience, one of three national Pathfinders being led by the Environment Agency. Together with JBA Consulting, the Integrated Catchment Solutions Programme (iCASP) and the Living with Water Programme, the Yorkshire Pathfinder project aims to raise awareness of the benefits of Property Flood Resilience (PFR) and encourage positive behavioural change to support its uptake.

Tell us about the project

We started our roles in January 2020 and the project will conclude in September 2021. We aim to empower communities to take proactive steps to reduce the risk of flood damage to their own properties. We’ve created a project website which hosts a range of online resources, including awareness articles, videos and blogs, downloads, animations and online training. We’re connecting with communities via public presentations and demonstrations and co-developing a community demonstration hub at Wilberforce College in Hull. We’re trying to reach a wide range of stakeholders, including residents and businesses, the property sector and trades, financial influencers and local authorities.

Are there any misconceptions around PFR that you’re looking to address through the project?

We’ve encountered some concerns about the impact of PFR on the appearance of homes and, consequently, their value. Every solution is bespoke to the property. Many of the measures on a property’s exterior are removable and interior adaptations can be incorporated into the design of a home. Once PFR has been installed, it’s the property owner’s responsibility to ensure that it is maintained and put into place in the event of a flood.
Some people may be put off by the cost, but it’s important to remember that the cost of repairing your home following flood damage could be considerably more, especially in areas at risk of repeated flooding. PFR is, therefore, a long-term investment, and more and more homeowners are recognising the importance of understanding their flood risk and installing these key measures.

Installing Property Flood Resilience can help to bring peace of mind, whilst also reducing the financial impact of flooding.

Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environment Agency (EA) has praised the pathfinder projects for helping to boost the uptake of property-level resilience measures in homes and businesses across the country,” which is one of the core themes of the EA’s FCERM Strategy. How are you/will you be working together through the project?

All three Pathfinder projects are in close contact and, although we each have slightly different approaches to encouraging take-up of PFR measures, we’re sharing best practice and hoping to put what we’ve learnt individually into some joint projects aimed at raising greater awareness of property flood resilience in other areas of the country during the coming months. We’ve each developed innovative ways of working with our local communities. These include demonstration sites, flood hubs, and online learning with real life case studies, which are soon to be launched.

It’s important that everyone understands their flood risk and how they can prepare and become more resilient.

What are some of the key messages you’ll be promoting?

We’re keen to encourage people to take action to reduce the risk of flood damage to their property. Installing Property Flood Resilience can help to bring peace of mind, whilst also reducing the financial impact of flooding. It’s important to understand the flood risk to your property; so be prepared and act now.

Property flood resilience reduces the damage that floodwater causes to your property and can therefore help to minimise the need for costly flood repairs, saving you money and enabling you to return to your property quicker after flooding. It can also reduce the need to make insurance claims if your property floods. As flood risk is predicted to increase in the future due to climate change, nobody should assume that flooding won’t happen to them. Therefore, it’s important that everyone understands their flood risk and how they can prepare and become more resilient, whether that’s through making a flood plan, considering having property flood resilience installed or making sure that the measures you have are maintained.

How do you hope the outcomes of the project will inform future PFR work?

The learning from our project will inform research into effective strategies to raise awareness of property flood resilience and flood risk. Our work is being used to inform academic studies, as well as educational courses about flood risk management. Through our educational work, we hope to inspire a flood-resilient future generation. We hope that, through engaging with Yorkshire Flood Resilience, more people in Yorkshire will be inspired to make their homes resilient to flooding.

Finally, how can people get involved?

You can find out more about our project and stay up to date with the latest information about flood resilience and flood risk management by visiting our website at You can also access our wide range of online resources on the website. Follow us on social media for the latest project developments and news from the flood risk industry.

Find us on:
Twitter: @YorkshirePFR
Facebook: Yorkshire Flood Resilience
LinkedIn: Yorkshire Flood Resilience

Emily Howes, Project Officer, Yorkshire Flood Resilience
Emily Howes
Lauren Davidson, Project Officer, Yorkshire Flood Resilience
Lauren Davidson

Waiting for the flood: action plans are great, but how do we find ways to live with long-term risk?

Flood risk

We are in a season of so-called ‘super-floods’. Flood professionals and volunteers have swung into intensive action for what they classify, less dramatically, as the ‘response phase’, and those who have flooded are facing the stark misery of what is left. We are all more aware of the risky world we live in. But, as all ‘floodies’ know, being at risk is not just about the crisis, it’s for life, for individuals and for communities. And it is worth thinking about what that means.

In my teenage years, my grandmother, before leaving her house, would sit in her hall dressed in her coat with her handbag on her lap waiting for her lift. She would often get out her small black diary and read it. This is one of my most enduring memories of her.

For my grandmother, to be prepared was to suspend all other activity in order to be ready to leave when the time came. When the flood siren sounds, this may well be a sensible strategy. Turn off the electric and wait for help with your emergency grab bag to hand. In the longer term, though, we cannot suspend our lives for a flood that may or may not come.

With a changing climate and the increased flood risk it brings, we have to find ways, as individuals, as communities, and as institutions, to move along the paths of resilience and adaptation. We have to do this, not by shutting our changing environment out, not by ignoring risk, but by weaving change and risk into the everyday in a constructive way.

Easy enough to say. Doing it is a different matter.

Much excellent work is going on to encourage and help communities to plan, practise for and recover from emergencies, not least by charities such as Communities Prepared and the National Flood Forum and by excellent local bodies such as Cumbria CVS, or Somerset Prepared.

But how do we ourselves, collectively and individually, process, understand and respond to flood risk in a way that doesn’t destroy our peace of mind? Our well-being? How can we be both ‘prepared’ and able to get on with our lives and loves? How do we get the balance right?

Garage full of rubbish
Prepared but not ready? When life gets in the way.
Rain on window
Rain dread: once flooded, never forgotten.

Some people who have experienced flooding, whether directly or indirectly, actively look for ways to prepare. If you are visiting this website, you are probably one of them. I am myself.

Many Flood Action Groups have started like this. We know, too, though, that many others do not prepare (for complex reasons, not least the psychological strain of living in fear or other pressing needs in their lives).  

Some preserve their peace of mind by relying on past patterns of flooding and solutions that may no longer apply. Or by framing their own experience as a one-off event with a very specific cause. And then there is an increasingly large group who must prepare for a risk they have never faced, cannot really imagine. How do all these people ‘prepare’?

I have no simple answers. But here is one thing I know, from my own village, from the very varied towns and parishes that make up the West Somerset Flood Group, from other groups and ‘floodies’ across the country:

The shape and dynamics of preparedness must match the people and the place

Whatever it looks like currently, our preparedness must be able to change just as communities and their circumstances change. I will stick my neck out here and say that this is often easier for villages than towns and cities (which is just as well, given the lesser support available to rural communities).

So, although I can’t suggest how to do this, I can, tentatively, offer a starting point.

We must start with who and what we are, with how we do things ourselves, where we live. That means not feeling defeated when faced with shining examples that seem alien to our own experience. It means not trying vainly to fit into the template. It means recognising the differences among ourselves. It means looking at our own communities’ strengths and building on them. It means doing it our way, even if it’s sometimes a bit rubbish. Not on our own but with the help of others. And in a dynamic way – we cannot suspend our lives and sit in our metaphorical hallways with our coats on waiting for a crisis to arise.

Teresa Bridgeman is Chair of the West Somerset Flood Group, Vice Chair of the District Flood Board and occasional convenor of the West Somerset Natural Flood Management People and Partnerships catchment group. She is author and editor of Flooding in West Somerset (2014) and co-author with Phiala Mehring, of Simple SuDS (2019), a guide to sustainable drainage. She sets out (with varying degrees of success) to strengthen networks of cooperation and trust at all levels of Flood Risk Management. Like all maintenance work, this is a perpetual and evolving task and is only possible because of the brilliant people she encounters along the way. Anybody who thinks they recognise their own influence on this blog is probably right, not least Carolyn Otley, Hugh Deeming, Mary Dhonau, Phiala Mehring, Hannah Ovett, Chris Uttley, Evangelos Ntontis, Katrina Brown and Cormac Russell.

Dr Teresa Bridgeman

The use of drone technology in flood emergency response

We spoke to Dr Monica Rivas Casado at Cranfield University about the use of drone technology in flood emergency response. Here, Monica discusses their research into the feasibility of using UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) to improve mapping of the extent of flooding events. The beginning of this project coincided with the UK winter storms of 2015 which severely impacted Cumbria.

Why was this research commissioned?

Currently, there is a gap in knowledge within the context of flood emergency response that needs to be addressed. In brief, some of the techniques currently used to gather information during and after flood events do not provide all the data required. Flood emergency responders require relatively detailed information on the extent of the flooding and location of properties affected within less than 24 hours. Current methods used to gather data include satellite imagery and aircrafts, which may not provide the required data when there is low cloud cover for example. In the case of SAR (synthetic-aperture radar) satellite imagery (which is able to penetrate the clouds), it is quite difficult to distinguish between water and concrete signatures (i.e. pavement vs. water). We proposed the use of drones to overcome some of these limitations and they turned out to be useful.

What did you hope to achieve through the project?

We wanted to assess the potential of drones to provide information during and after flood events, and in particular how the information could help (i) loss adjusters and (ii) with the uptake of resilience and resistance measures. We collected drone imagery in Cockermouth (Cumbria) after storm Desmond (December 2015), mapping approximately 150 ha. The results showed that we could use the data for both loss adjustment and the identification of areas in need of flood resilience and resistance measures.

Please can you highlight some of the benefits of using drones for flood management, that came out of the project?

Community: Drones enabled us to identify which properties were flooded and which ones were not, therefore helping us to establish which parts of the community required more attention during and after an event occurred. It also helped us to identify which parts of the community were affected by which types of flooding (e.g. fluvial, pluvial), which in turn informed flood management decisions.

Emergency responders: The imagery collected provided detailed information about the extent and impact of the flood event. It helped detect which areas had been badly affected and therefore needed more resources during/after flooding. There is potential that it could help with planning evacuation routes but we have not yet tested that to the full extent.

Insurance: The images collected enabled the identification of individual properties affected by flooding and, to some degree, the level of damaged caused. This could help insurance companies identify the damaged caused without the need to send loss adjusters on site. If loss adjusters were to be required, the exact properties that they should visit could be provided based on observations from the imagery.

What are some of the general limitations around deployment of drones? How did this impact the project?

Key limitations at the moment are (i) operational, (ii) regulatory and (ii) time processing. We find operational restrictions when trying to fly drones in gusty (stormy) conditions. Drones are not waterproof in general and they cannot fly when it is really windy. This makes operational deployment really complicated during a flood event as we need to find a suitable weather window to start our work. There are also regulatory constraints established by the Civil Aviation Authority. Finally, we are trying to get the drone data collected and analysed within less than 24 hours so that it is useful for emergency responders. At the moment, it takes longer than this to generate the first results so we are now exploring the use of machine learning techniques to be able to obtain the outcomes that we need on time.

We experienced all these limitations when undertaking the project but managed to overcome most of them through good planning and carefully thinking about the logistics of the mission. For example, we overcame the regulatory limitations through close liaison the CAA and on-site emergency responders.

What was the impact of the research at the time?

We managed to collect a very comprehensive data set of the area and demonstrated that the data collected could be useful for flood management. There had been flights undertaken in the past with drones over flooded environments but, as far as we know, the data sets collected were not as comprehensive as the one we captured. We understand results from the project have been used by governmental agencies to make informed management decisions.

How do you see drone technology developing on a wider scale, both nationally and internationally?

I believe drone technology will be adopted across the country as an additional tool to inform the extent and impact of flood events. Their use has already been adopted by the Environment Agency across England and is expected to increase in the future. The potential of the technology is still yet to be fully explored, but initial results show promising applications at a national and international level. For example, we are currently assessing their potential for flood emergency response in India where flood events affected large parts of Kerala in the summer of 2018. 

What future related projects does Cranfield University have in the pipeline?

We have multiple on-going projects on the use of drones for flood emergency response and the uptake of resilience and resistance measures, the details of which are published here. We are assessing their potential for the real-time planning of flood evacuation routes and looking into the use of machine learning to speed up the processing time. Aside from the use of drones but still within the context of flooding, we are working on (i) how best to communicate flood risk to different community groups and (ii) determining who would be best placed to communicate this message. This will be published in due course.

Finally, what was your personal highlight of the project?

A highlight for me was around the logistics of deploying the drones after a flood event. It required liaison with the CAA, Army, drone pilots and emergency responders on site, and helped me understand how emergency responders operate during and after a flood event from an in-field perspective.

Bio: Dr Monica Rivas Casado is a Senior Lecturer in Integrated Environmental Monitoring with expertise in the application of statistics to environmental data. Monica has an MSc in Environmental Water Management and a PhD in applied geostatistics from Cranfield. Monica is currently leading Research Council (RCUK) and industry funded projects on the use of emerging technologies and statistical science for robust environmental monitoring, which includes the use of drones for flood and catastrophe extent mapping and damage assessment (NERC/EPSRC). Monica is a fully qualified RPQs (drone) pilot.

Click here to read the case-study on the Cranfield University website. For more information on the project, please email

WeatherReady Winter Campaign 2019

The Met Office has launched its WeatherReady Winter Campaign for 2019 in partnership with the Cabinet Office to help people prepare for and cope with severe weather. WeatherReady encourages individuals, families and communities to think about winter preparations they can make to help them stay warm, healthy and safe at this time of year.

The following WeatherReady checklist has been produced as part of the campaign’s resources and can be used to help people to think ahead.

Get your flu jab

Flu can have a major impact on vulnerable people and you may be entitled to your vaccination free of charge.

Check your vehicle is winter ready

Top up anti-freeze screen wash, check your tyres and think about a winter kit for your car.

Make a ‘plan B’ for commuting and childcare

Consider alternative commuting plans for severe weather, and alternative childcare plans in case of school or nursery closures.

Check your heating

Cold weather can be a risk to your health, particularly if you are over 65 or have health conditions. Your home should be heated to at least 18 ºC.

How will you access information?

Consider how you would access vital information if a storm takes out power and phone lines. Save key documents and information in a safe place and consider a battery-powered charger.

Think about what may be impacted by strong winds or flooding

Around the home there may be guttering, pipes, roof tiles/slates, garden items and important items stored on the ground floor which could beat risk from severe weather. Make some checks and maintenance, and consider moving items.

Plumbing checks can save your money

Check your pipes are insulated and know where your stop tap is.

Have some basic supplies and a grab bag ready

Make sure you have some basic supplies such as bottled water, medicines, torch, radio and batteries in a ‘grab bag’. This will help if you have to leave home quickly or your power or water are disrupted.

Think of your neighbours

Share this checklist with your neighbours and see if they have any other tips. You can also tell them if you can help in severe weather.

Think of your community

There are lots of things you could do to help your community, particularly if severe weather hits. Contact your local resilience forum for more information.

The above information has been produced by The Met Office. More information can be found at

Communities Prepared resources

You can also download a range of free training resources and information from Communities Prepared with guidance on preparing for, responding to, and recovering from flooding, snow and utilities failure plus additional support on managing and recruiting community volunteers. Click here to sign up for free.

Flood risk management: a jigsaw of many pieces

In my experience, flood risk management is a jigsaw of many pieces, all working together on reducing flood risk (such as flood warnings, municipal flood alleviation schemes, natural flood defences, temporary barriers, sustainable drainage, etc.). In the last few years, due to intense and prolonged rainfall, we have seen robust defences over-topped and breached. What can we do at a property level to reduce the appalling impact that being flooded brings with it?

I have been flooded myself, so I know only too well just how awful it is and how long it takes to get back to ‘normal’ again. We can, of course, think about using property flood resilience products (PFR) to try to keep the water out and help to give extra time to move precious belongings to a place of safety. I know people worry about labelling their home at risk of flooding, but that doesn’t have to be the case. ‘Flood doors’ look just like a normal doors but once locked can withstand flood water to about 6m. Airbricks can be replaced with a ‘self-closing’ variety which can stop an awful lot of water entering into a home. Non return valves fitted into drains can stop sewage entering homes via toilets, showers etc. Always look for products with a kitemark, as they have been through a robust testing procedure. There is more information about risk reduction products here.

The average amount of time it takes to repair a property is about 9 months, and that causes terrible disruption to life as we know it.

If you are flooded, work with your insurance provider to ‘build back better’. By this I mean adapting your home/business to help it to recover more quickly, should you flood again. The average amount of time it takes to repair a property is about 9 months, and that causes terrible disruption to life as we know it. Moving electric sockets and services up the wall, using waterproof plaster, tiling floors and fitting a flood resilient kitchen (which doesn’t have to cost much more, or look ugly) can help reduce the damage a flood does and speed up the time it takes to recover, allowing you to get back home sooner. Over the past year, I have travelled around the country and talked to people who have taken steps to both try to keep the water out and also made adaptations to reduce the impact. Do have a read of their stories and see how beautiful their homes and businesses look.

In 2017, I project managed the retrofitting of two properties, a community centre and a private home, to help them to recover more quickly if they flood again. The details of the project can be seen here. Again, you will see how beautiful the properties looked, once the work had finished. The EMag also details the products used.

Protecting our homes from burglary and fire has become the norm. My hope is that reducing flood risk, at a property level, is treated in the same way.

With the threat that climate change brings, sadly flooding is going to become more frequent and more damaging. It is impossible to stop floods from happening, but we can do our best to manage flood risk. Protecting our homes from burglary and fire has become the norm. My hope is that reducing flood risk, at a property level, is treated in the same way. It may also lead to reductions in the price we pay for flood insurance, as well as peace of mind.  Working in partnership, we can reduce the awful misery being flooded brings.

By Mary Dhonau

Biography: Mary has been flooded on many occasions and has extensive experience in supporting and advising the victims of flooding during their recovery. She has championed the promotion of Property Flood Resilience and is a passionate advocate for communities working in partnership with those who manage flood risk, to help minimise the disruption flooding brings. Mary was awarded an OBE for Services to the Environment in 2009.

Recovering from the autumn floods: the power of community spirit

Increasing community resilience to the impact of flooding and severe weather emergencies has never been more pertinent. Across the country, communities have been battling the devastating effects of one of the wettest autumns on record. The Environment Agency has been working tirelessly to safeguard and support affected communities, working alongside members of these communities to promote a joined-up response effort. Chair, Emma Howard Boyd, describes being “hugely moved by the community spirit and generosity” at her recent visit to the South Yorkshire village of Fishlake, writing about her experience on the Environment Agency’s blog.

Community volunteer groups not only play a vital role in preparing for, and responding to emergencies, but are also instrumental in the recovery process, continuing to assist with longer-term clear-up efforts and helping to rebuild morale and restore a sense of normality.

Creating active and empowered communities

Ensuring these groups feel confident in leading their community to recovery is a key focus of Communities Prepared. Our training and resources support Community Emergency Volunteer (CEV) coordinators and their members to plan for and implement longer-term resilience measures.   

Become a member of Communities Prepared today and access our full range of free training resources and tools. It’s free to sign up!

We’ve been busy exhibiting, running workshops and presenting at some great regional and national events. You may have seen us at the following:

  • Somerset Prepared Community Resilience Day
  • Wiltshire Prepared Flood Warden meeting
  • Cornwall Community Flood Forum’s annual conference
  • BCI World Conference & Exhibition with Business in the Community
  • Good Things Foundation: Joining Forces
  • ACRE 2019 Autumn Conference

Are you running or attending an event that you think would tie in with our programme? We’d love to hear about it! Get in touch.

“We’re quite good at writing plans but we’re not so good at what you do afterwards. I think that was particularly helpful – understanding the follow-through needed to make sure people are supported in getting back to a working state as quickly as possible.”

Cllr Helen Deas Williams, Brixton Parish Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)

Find out how Brixton CERT developed their resilience to flooding. Read their story here.

The power of 3 words

How can three random words be used to support a more efficient multi-agency emergency response? what3words’ Geordie Palmer discusses.

What the flood

The Environment Agency recently launched its winter Flood Action Campaign which focuses on winter preparation and helping people to know what action to take in a flood. 

Coming up

Developing the UK’s Flood Resilience Forum, 5th December 2019, brings together leading voices to discuss key topics relating to flood resilience.

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