Close Button

Search Thames Valley Local Resilience Forum


Over the coming years, rising temperatures and an increase in the frequency and severity of extreme weather events are likely to raise the risk of flooding in the UK. No two floods are the same. In the winter of 2013/14 the Thames Valley was seriously affected by flooding. The winter as a whole, from the beginning of December 2013 until the end of February 2014, was the wettest recorded in the UK since records began in 1766. One in six properties in England are at risk of flooding from rivers, sea and surface water. The Thames Valley is particularly susceptible to natural flooding hazards due to rivers such as the Thames and its extensive valley and floodplain landscape. Climate change is increasing the risk of flooding to all communities. The Environment Agency helps keep the public informed by issuing flood alerts and warnings based on river levels.

How could flooding affect me?

Flooding can be incredibly disruptive, cause significant damage to communities and the economy. The average cost of flooding to a home is around £30,000 and to a business £82,000. The effects on mental health can last for months and even years. Environmental impacts include pollution, harm to livestock and wildlife, and destruction of habitats. Disruption to power supplies and transport networks is a risk and in the most severe cases, floods can cause injury and death.

The winter ground water flooding of 2013/14 impacted the whole of the Thames Valley and led to temporary flood defences being erected in many areas they had not been used before. There was also traffic and rail disruption, an electricity substation coming within inches of flooding, innovative solutions were used to tackle problems and unprecedented groundwater flooding in the area.

Get prepared
  • How to prepare for flooding
    • Know your flood risk. Check GOV.UK or call the Environment Agency’s Floodline on 0345 988 1188
    • Sign up for free flood alerts and warnings from the Environment Agency or call Floodline on 0345 988 1188
    • If your home or business is located in a flood risk area, speak to your local authority for support in creating flood plans for your household, business and community
    • Prepare an emergency pack and keep it within easy reach if needed
    • Protect your property with flood defence products such as flood doors, flood boards and airbrick covers. The National Flood Forum’s independent directory of flood protection products and services – Blue Pages – can help you select what you need
    • Buying sandbags might help, but first check GOV.UK for advice on sandbags and how best to protect your home. You can buy them from your local DIY store and keep them in a shed or garage in case of an emergency
    • Keep drains and gutters clear of leaves. If you notice drains on your road are blocking up, report it to you local Council
    • Know how to turn off your water, gas and electricity. You can visit or call 105 to report or get information about power cuts in your local area
    • Make sure your insurance covers flooding
    • Join a flood action group, a voluntary group of local residents who work on behalf of their community to try and reduce the impact of future flood events and take action during an incident
    • If you are likely to need extra support during disruption to power or water supplies, register with your utilities for priority services
  • What to do during a flood
    • Flood water can rise quickly, so always focus on the safety of you and your family before your property and be prepared to act quickly. If there is an immediate risk to life or you are trapped by flood water call 999
    • Move people, pets, valuables and important items upstairs or to a higher level in your property
    • If possible, move furniture and electrical equipment upstairs and switch it off. Raise any furniture that you cannot move upstairs off the floor
    • Turn off gas, electricity and water supplies if flood water is about to enter your home Do not touch any electrical appliances or cables when standing in flood water
    • Avoid Non-essential travel. If you must travel, slow down and allow extra time
    • Driving through flood water can result in drowning. If the road is flooded, turn around and find another route. Just 12 inches (30cm) of moving water can float your car
    • Do not attempt to walk through flooded areas. The water is often deeper than it looks and may be moving fast which can sweep you off your feet. Flood water also contains hidden hazards such as sharp objects, raised manhole covers and pollution
    • Do not walk on river banks, defences or cross bridges over torrential rivers
    • Avoid contact with flood water and wash your hands regularly. Swallowing flood water can cause serious illness
    • Check on elderly or vulnerable family members and neighbours to make sure they are safe
    • Follow instructions from the emergency services and local authorities
  • What to do after a flood
    • Contact your insurers as soon as possible to register your claim. Take photos or videos before you start cleaning and make a list of everything that has been damaged
    • Only pump out water when flood levels outside your property are lower than inside to reduce the risk of structural damage
    • Find out how to dispose of flood damaged items safely, after you have spoken to your insurance company. Contact your local district council for more advice – see the About Us page for details
    • Check the safety of electricity and gas before use. A qualified electrician should check electrical equipment and circuits that have been exposed to flood water. Find out more from Electrical Safety First
    • Avoid contact with flood water which could be contaminated. Wear protective clothing and footwear when cleaning up
    • Use dehumidifiers to dry out your property rather than portable heaters which can be a fire risk. If you do use them, ensure they are at least one metre away from furniture or other flammable items
    • When drying out your property do not overload extension leads or adaptors
    • Do not use petrol or diesel generators or other similar fuel-driven equipment indoors. The exhaust gases contain carbon monoxide which can kill
    • If you are unable to use your cooker, do not use disposable barbecues inside as this could cause a fire and put you at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning
    • Do not use food contaminated by floodwater. If in doubt throw it out. Food safety advice after flooding is available from the Food Standards Agency
    • Boil all tap water until it is declared safe by the water supply company
    • Wash your hands frequently with bottled water if your supply has not been declared fit for use
    • Disinfect children’s toys
    • Seek medical assistance if any health issues appear, especially flu like symptoms
    • Beware of rogue traders. Always use reputable building contractors and do not pay in advance. If in doubt contact your local trading standards team