How to Prepare for Flooding

Are you at risk of flooding?

It is important to see if your property or business is in an area at risk from river flooding.  Checking could save you money as well as helping protect you, your family and your property and belongings.  It could even save your life

Will you be warned about flooding?


Specific warnings about river flooding within identified ‘at risk’ areas come from the Environment Agency’s Flood Warning Service called Floodline. Sign up for free flood warnings here or contact Floodline on 0345 988 1188 to check whether you are in a flood warning area and eligible for the following warnings:

Flood alert: flooding is possible
Flood warning: flooding is expected
Severe flood warning: danger to life

These warnings only cover the possibility of river flooding. There is no specific warning system for surface water flooding, which is mainly caused by very intense rainfall and can be extremely localised, making it very hard to predict.

Local knowledge and experience are often the best indicators of when flooding may occur and when to take action.

Click here to read about sudden floods, referred to as ‘flash floods’.

How can you prepare for flooding?

Long-term preparation can help protect your home and possessions against flooding. 

  • See Six Steps to Protecting Your Property for further advice.
  • The Council’s drainage engineers may be able to give advice if you think you might be at risk of surface water flooding. Ring 01422 288002.

What will the Council do in a flood?

The Council works with the Emergency Services and the Environment Agency to co-ordinate responses during severe flooding. It also:

  • Provides advice to the public about the incident and what to do.
  • When needed, sets up rest centres for people evacuated from their homes who have nowhere else to go.
  • Deals with road closures and diversion routes. 
  • Helps with the care and welfare of known vulnerable people.
  • Monitors sensitive gullies and other minor waterways to keep them running free.
  • Tries to provide assistance if your property is at serious risk and the Council has available resources.



The Council does not provide sandbags directly to members of the public. It holds stocks of sandbags to allow contractors to respond to Environment Agency flood warnings as quickly as possible, by deploying them in places where there is a known significant risk of flooding of the highway or where there is a risk of flooding to properties from the highway. They require unhindered access to sandbags to ensure a speedy response to at-risk locations.

Contrary to popular belief, sandbags are rarely the best solution for keeping water out of properties. There are other products available that perform better, are easier to use, are reusable and will not rot in storage. Many are filled with a synthetic gel substance, which moulds to seal gaps more effectively than sand. Independent advice on these and other property level flood resilience measures is provided by organisations such as the National Flood Forum.

Maintaining watercourses

Watercourses (including main rivers) are normally the responsibility of the owner of the land through which they flow, in open channel or in pipes and culverts. These are known as ‘riparian owners’ and may be individuals or organisations.

The Council has powers to require riparian owners to act to clear blocked or defective watercourses, when necessary, and also has the power to do the work itself and re-charge its costs.