The storms and subsequent flooding we saw throughout December and into the New Year reminded us how vulnerable the UK is to flooding. With an estimated one in six homes considered at risk of flooding, what can you do if you are affected?
Flooding, whether from rivers, the sea or surface water, is a widespread issue, and one which home-owners and businesses of all sizes need to consider carefully.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) report that, after a single month of heavy rainfall, more than 3,000 families are now living in alternative accommodation because their homes are so badly damaged they're uninhabitable.
The amount insurers expect to spend fixing all the damage is around £1.3 billion.
Louise Hanson, Director of Advocacy at the ABI, reflects on what flooding really means for those affected.
Dealing with the reality of flooding
These numbers are big, but they don't tell you about the reality of what it's like to be flooded.
In the immediate aftermath of a flood you may only have the clothes you stand up in. Irreplaceable possessions like photos and documents could have been destroyed. You may have no idea where you will sleep that night.
In these first hours, insurers provide emergency payments for essentials like food and clothing and, for businesses, money to prevent that company going bust.
Being flooded is traumatic, not just because of the devastating damage to your property and possessions but because it turns your life on its head for many months while that damage is being repaired.
Once the water has gone down, and the damage has been assessed, it is vital a property is thoroughly cleaned and dried before rebuilding and restoration work gets under way, a process that can take many months.
Do it too fast and woodwork can crack and warp; fail to do it properly and repairs will fail or go mouldy.
Concerned about flooding? Here are some tips
Here are some simple steps you can take, whether you are worried about the risk of flooding, or have been flooded yourself.
- Check out the free online maps provided by the Environment Agency in England, Natural Resources Wales and the Scottish Environment Protection Agency, which show areas at risk of flooding from either rivers and sea or surface water.
- Whether your property is considered at flood risk or not, check that your home insurance documents are all up-to-date and that damage from flooding is included. It's important you're completely open and honest with your insurer about the condition of your property and where it is located.
- If your property is in a flood risk area, there may be things you can do to reduce the risk of it flooding, or make it easier to repair if floods do happen. A professional survey can help determine what the most appropriate measures might be and can identify the best options for having any work carried out by a suitably qualified professional. Measures to consider include covers for air vents, relocating electricity points and installing water-resistant doors and window frames. It may also be a good idea to replace any chipboard kitchen and bathroom units with plastic or steel equivalents.
This is a guest post from the ABI and doesn't necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the Money Advice Service. You can find out more about the ABI and more consumer advice over on their website
This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.