Floods can happen anywhere at any time. They're caused by rising ground water levels, burst water drains, rainwater running off hillsides - as well as flooding from rivers and seas. Even if you live miles from the sea or a river, flooding could still affect you.
In late November 2017 many parts of the Fylde Coast were flooded after heavy rainfall onto already saturated ground. Have a look at this Facebook thread which includes some of the worst affected areas in Cleveleys and Thornton.
The surface flooding in November 2017 proved that flooding can and does happen because of heavy rainfall.
The area is low lying, much of it is at or below sea level. When rivers are high because the tide is in, rain water on land has nowhere to drain to through streams, becks, and the drainage system. The consequence is surface flooding.
This is not intended to be a comprehensive or official list, but it's a basic common sense starter to help you to get flood ready and be prepared for next time. If you have any ideas and suggestions please get in touch and add them.
Do you know what you would do in the event of a flood?
Make sure that you know what needs doing at the time of a flood to make your home as watertight as you can to avoid water coming into your home.
Make sure your home insurance documents are in a safe, accessible place which is above flood level. Have a torch, batteries, candles and matches in a dry place above flood level.
Can you make any changes to your home NOW that will help to keep flooding to a minimum?
Get a stock of sandbags. These are available free of charge from the local authority. Check with your local council to find out where they can be collected from. Sandbags should last for years when stored properly*.
Know how to use sandbags. When flooding is imminent, try to seal your house. Start with the lowest points.
To seal doors, place empty plastic sacks around the bottom and sides of doors. Use heavy duty tape to hold them in place. (Insulation, duck, gaffer tape etc). Place the sandbags on top of the bin bags and tread them into place to get a good seal.
Remember to seal other gaps such as low letter boxes and cat flaps.
Seal airbricks and vents. Use a similar method to seal these gaps up.
If the vent is low lying but above ground level, pile your sandbags on top of bricks or use timber props to get them to the correct height. But ALWAYS do the lowest ones first.
Make a flood gate. If you've got a solid structure around your garden like a brick wall, you could limit the amount of water which comes into your garden by making a flood gate to fit across your driveway or gate.
It doesn't have to be a sophisticated masterpiece - a piece of wood which sits against your gates and is protected by plastic and sandbags will do a good job.
It will also reduce the amount of water which is sloshed into your garden in waves by passing cars and vehicles.
*How to store your sandbags. Store them off the ground in a dry place. If you haven't got a shed or garage you can keep them outdoors as long as they are covered.
Move valuable objects to a higher place. If it's looking likely that water will come into your home, move everything that you can to a higher place in the house/room.
Start with your most valuable and smallest things first, like photos, sentimental things and important papers.
Move as much as you can - clear food out of low kitchen cupboards onto the worktops, clothes out of low wardrobes in bungalows onto cupboard tops - etc.
If water is getting into your home tray to bail out if you can.
If your home is flooded do not use the electrics. Tiyr insurance company can arrange for an electrician to check them. Contact them as soon as possible as they will be able to provide advice to help you to minimise the damage.
Don't use your car unless it is absolutely necessary. A small depth of water can cause your engine to stall and your car may become stranded, blocking an entire road.
Driving along flooded roads will also sweep waves of water into gardens and homes.
Many things contribute to surface flooding from rainwater.
We can all play a part to make our area more resilient and reduce the effect of heavy rainfall on our communities.
In your home: Treat your drains with respect!
DON'T put fats and oils down your drains. DON'T flush disposable wipes down the toilet. Combined together, fats and wipes create 'fatbergs' which can significantly reduce the capacity of sewers or sometimes block them altogether.
In your garden: How absorbant is your patch?
The Fylde Coast is quite an urban landscape. It's also very flat and low lying. We also like to live by the sea in our many individual houses which add together to make a densely populated place.
This has the combined effect of making less space for water - so we can each help to increase that space by having absorbant gardens.
If you've got a lot of paving, or gravel underlayed with membrane or plastic, or any kind of solid surface on the floor of your patch, you are reducing the amount of water which can soak away from it. You will probably find that you get puddles of standing water after normal rainfall and it might even have been under water during the recent floods.
Consider changing the way that your garden is landscaped - you can do it next Spring - and help to reduce the amount of standing water. If all gardens were porous it would make a big difference.
Watch this short information video produced by Lancashire County Council and make sure you know what you would do if your own home became at risk of flooding.
The number of homes at risk from flooding is only going to increase with a changing climate.
Many people think that flooding will never happen to them - but it could. Recent winters have been the wettest in England for nearly 250 years with around 6,000 properties flooded.
1. Check the Environment Agency’s maps to see if you are at risk, find them here.
2. Sign up for free flood warning alerts for your area, sign up here.You can receive warnings by phone, text, email or all three.
When high tides are expected, particularly in combination with strong winds, an area may be put on flood alert. Receiving a warning in advance from Floodline enables you to get organised so that you don't make unnecessary journeys during the worst times, and to get ready with sandbags and other measures if necessary. It also alerts you to impending bad weather which will enable you to be prepared and able to stay indoors until the worst conditions pass.
3. Prepare a personal flood plan. You can find out how here.
Particularly living so close to the sea, residents of the Fylde Coast and visitors need to be aware of the dangers of walking and driving through flood water.
Just 30cm of flood water can float a car – don’t take risks on low lying coastal land at high tides in stormy weather.
The sea can and does take lives - be careful and stay safe.
Surface flooding from rainwater - Westbourne and Kings Walk, Cleveleys, November 2017. Photo: James Worthington
Storm and flooding at Cleveleys in January 2014
Flooding in Blackpool in January 2014
Courtesy Mel Jones Photography
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