Sheer volume of rain is overwhelming communities previously considered immune.
Jonathan Brown reports
Saturday 29 September 2012
The flood waters may finally be receding across parts of Britain lashed this week by the worst autumn storm in 30 years.But as home and business owners begin the long, demoralising task of clearing up the filth left in their wake, it has emerged that increasing numbers of flood victims are completely unaware that they were ever at risk from rising water levels.
Of the 5,000 properties damaged in the extreme weather events of this summer and autumn, more than half were hit not by overflowing rivers but by surface water.
The sheer volume of rain – sometimes up to 20mm in a single hour – has overwhelmed ageing sewage and drainage systems resulting in unprecedented levels of flooding in communities previously considered immune. With the number of properties at risk of flooding expected to quadruple in the next 20 years, according to the Committee on Climate Change, experts warned this week that no home is now without risk.
Charles Tucker, chairman of the National Flood Forum which represents 150 community flood action groups, said intensive rain storm events – of which there have been seven since the beginning of June – can strike at any time. “Anyone can be hit. That is a message that has to be got across to people without scaring the living daylights out of them,” he said.
The potential impact was disastrously demonstrated in 2007 in Hull which was hit by devastating flooding caused when road gullies, sewers and drainage ditches were overwhelmed by torrential rain. One person died and 10,000 homes and businesses were deluged. The disaster cost the city £20m and people were still living in emergency accommodation more than a year later.