Warning of widespread FLOODING after Christmas

A warning of widespread flooding after Christmas has been issued by experts as people in high-risk areas are urged to protect precious keepsakes from downpours. 

Environment Agency executive director of operations John Curtin explained how teams around the country are prepared to deal with flooding in a Covid-safe way.     

Groundwater levels are slightly above normal and there is not much capacity in the soil to take more rain, leaving the country more ‘in the gift of the weather going forward’, Mr Curtin said.   

Environment Agency executive director of operations John Curtin explained how teams around the country are prepared to deal with flooding in a Covid-safe way. Pictured: Resident in Hereford is rescued in the aftermath of Storm Dennis in February

Environment Agency executive director of operations John Curtin explained how teams around the country are prepared to deal with flooding in a Covid-safe way. Pictured: Resident in Hereford is rescued in the aftermath of Storm Dennis in February

Environment Agency executive director of operations John Curtin explained how teams around the country are prepared to deal with flooding in a Covid-safe way. Pictured: Resident in Hereford is rescued in the aftermath of Storm Dennis in February

He added: ‘We have done a lot of preparedness, a lot of testing to make sure we can still respond this winter under Covid conditions, but it’s really important that people prepare their own flood risk.’ 

Mr Curtin urged people to check if they are at risk and prepare for potential flooding, to protect precious keepsakes such as old photographs and reduce the mental health impacts of the trauma of being flooded.

The Environment Agency has 25 miles of temporary flood barriers and 250 high-volume pumps ready to be deployed along with 1,500 military personnel and 6,500 EA staff trained to handle floods this winter. 

Groundwater levels are slightly above normal and there is not much capacity in the soil to take more rain, leaving the country more 'in the gift of the weather going forward', Mr Curtin said. Pictured: York after the River Ouse burst its banks in November

Groundwater levels are slightly above normal and there is not much capacity in the soil to take more rain, leaving the country more 'in the gift of the weather going forward', Mr Curtin said. Pictured: York after the River Ouse burst its banks in November

Groundwater levels are slightly above normal and there is not much capacity in the soil to take more rain, leaving the country more ‘in the gift of the weather going forward’, Mr Curtin said. Pictured: York after the River Ouse burst its banks in November 

Mr Curtin also warned of the challenge of keeping up with the rapidly increasing flood threat posed by climate change. 

Met Office Head of Civil Contingencies Will Lang said that after an unsettled December, with rain and wind continuing into next week, there will be colder, drier weather over Christmas and into the new year.

‘Beyond that, though, our longer range forecasts for January and February have been consistently suggesting that wetter, windier and milder conditions are more likely than normal, so that wet weather will return again,’ he said.

Mr Curtin also warned of the challenge of keeping up with the rapidly increasing flood threat posed by climate change. Pictured: York after the River Ouse burst its banks in November

Mr Curtin also warned of the challenge of keeping up with the rapidly increasing flood threat posed by climate change. Pictured: York after the River Ouse burst its banks in November

Mr Curtin also warned of the challenge of keeping up with the rapidly increasing flood threat posed by climate change. Pictured: York after the River Ouse burst its banks in November 

Dr Lang urged that the forecast must be taken seriously, despite uncertainty, in case of more wet weather on top of the current conditions. 

He explained how the Environment Agency had carried out repair work or put measures in place to protect communities where defences were damaged by floods brought on by record wet conditions in February, which flooded 8,000 properties.

Storms Aiden and Alex earlier this year allowed teams to test their response under Covid-19 conditions, including putting out kit in a safe way, setting up virtual incident rooms and using local support to avoid moving people around the country, he said. 

Dr Lang urged that the forecast must be taken seriously, despite uncertainty, in case of more wet weather on top of the current conditions. Pictured: A van stuck in flood water after the Padbury Brook burst its banks near Buckingham in October

Dr Lang urged that the forecast must be taken seriously, despite uncertainty, in case of more wet weather on top of the current conditions. Pictured: A van stuck in flood water after the Padbury Brook burst its banks near Buckingham in October

Dr Lang urged that the forecast must be taken seriously, despite uncertainty, in case of more wet weather on top of the current conditions. Pictured: A van stuck in flood water after the Padbury Brook burst its banks near Buckingham in October 

Local emergency response teams have planned for managing evacuations in a Covid-safe way, he said, adding that the potential risk of the virus would be secondary to a real threat to life in a flooding situation.

Mr Cutin continued: ‘All of that has been well rehearsed, it’s just whether or not people are aware of that.

‘What we don’t want is people’s hesitancy to leave if their life is in danger from an immediate approaching flood, worrying about what the Covid risk is, so that’s one of the elements we will have to keep communicating through this winter.’

Dr Lang also urged people to keep up to date with weather forecasts and warnings.

He said changes to lives because of the pandemic, such as being less used to driving in winter conditions, could make people more vulnerable – though he added that a greater awareness of risk could help make people more prepared.

Link hienalouca.com

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