Europe South Asia Asia Pacific Americas Middle East Africa BBC Homepage World Service Education

Front Page



UK Politics







Talking Point

In Depth

On Air

Low Graphics

Friday, October 15, 1999 Published at 16:03 GMT 17:03 UK


Homes warned of flood risks

There may be trouble ahead . . . and the Environment Agency wants to spread the word

By Environment Correspondent Alex Kirby

A national advertising campaign will for the first time highlight the risk posed by flooding.

The UK Environment Agency, the government body responsible for flood warning in England and Wales, will spend £2m on the campaign, which includes local radio advertisements and 2,000 outdoor poster sites in high-risk areas.

The BBC's Robert Piggott: "Too many properties are being built in flood zones"
Homes and businesses at risk will also receive information packs and flood kit bags - plastic bags containing more information, which can also be used for storing valuable documents in a flood.

New warning service

The agency is also launching a new telephone information service for people to ring. Called Floodline, it will offer advice on home protection, and details of flood warnings in force in the caller's area.

[ image: Loss and damge from floods can be devastating]
Loss and damge from floods can be devastating
The agency already offers a service to people living in flood risk areas, which sends them an automatic voice message detailing new flood warnings provided they have registered with it.

In flood warning areas, the agency aims to give two hours' advance notice. But it says many floods cannot be forecast.

It says 1.3 million homes and businesses in England and Wales are at risk from flooding, and for them the risk is greater than the risk of fire.

But it says only 5% of people in flood risk areas take the threat seriously enough to make any preparations to face it.

Risk increasing

In 1998, 21 people in the UK died as a result of flooding, and during October alone an area the size of North Yorkshire was flooded. Six months earlier, flooding caused losses (some uninsured) of £400m.

[ image: The risk of flooding is set to rise]
The risk of flooding is set to rise
Climate change is expected to lead to wetter winters, more severe storms, and therefore a greater flood risk for more people. By 2050 sea levels could have risen by between 10cm and 50cm, increasing the risk.

The agency's chief executive, Ed Gallagher, said there were simple ways of minimising the long-term effects of a flood.

These included having enough insurance, protecting vital documents, clearly marking where gas and electricity switches needed to be turned off, and moving valuables out of the reach of the water.

The agency was criticised by an independent inquiry for failing to give adequate warning of the April 1998 floods.

It apologised for its performance, saying: "We believe we did many things well, but we acknowledge that our actions did not always meet our own standards or satisfy the public or others."

Advanced options | Search tips

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage | ©

UK Contents

Northern Ireland

Relevant Stories

18 Oct 99†|†UK
The big mop-up: One year on

20 Sep 99†|†UK
Heavy rain sparks flood alerts

25 Nov 98†|†UK
Watchdog promises faster flood warnings

01 Oct 98†|†UK
Flood report to criticise Environment Agency

11 Apr 98†|†UK
Floods cause havoc in central England

Internet Links

UK Environment Agency

BBC Weather Online

Middlesex University Flood Hazard Research Centre

UK Meteorologocal Office

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.

In this section

Next steps for peace

Blairs' surprise over baby

Bowled over by Lord's

Beef row 'compromise' under fire

Hamilton 'would sell mother'

Industry misses new trains target

From Sport
Quins fightback shocks Cardiff

From Business
Vodafone takeover battle heats up

IRA ceasefire challenge rejected

Thousands celebrate Asian culture

From Sport
Christie could get two-year ban

From Entertainment
Colleagues remember Compo

Mother pleads for baby's return

Toys withdrawn in E.coli health scare

From Health
Nurses role set to expand

Israeli PM's plane in accident

More lottery cash for grassroots

Pro-lifers plan shock launch

Double killer gets life

From Health
Cold 'cure' comes one step closer

From UK Politics
Straw on trial over jury reform

Tatchell calls for rights probe into Mugabe

Ex-spy stays out in the cold

From UK Politics
Blair warns Livingstone

From Health
Smear equipment `misses cancers'

From Entertainment
Boyzone star gets in Christmas spirit

Fake bubbly warning

Murder jury hears dead girl's diary

From UK Politics
Germ warfare fiasco revealed

Blair babe triggers tabloid frenzy

Tourists shot by mistake

A new look for News Online