Environment Agency launches enhanced flood warning service

Written by Editor, CIR

The Environment Agency’s new online flood forecasting and warning service takes effect from today. The agency will now publish a daily, three-day flood forecast for England and Wales on its website of flood risk from rivers, the sea and the potential for surface water flooding from intense rainfall.

The organisation is working with commercial organisations to develop flood warning applications for smart phones - providing live feeds on river levels and flood warnings.

From today, warnings issued to homes and businesses by phone and text message will now include more localised information, with clearer advice on actions to take to help safeguard lives and property. The existing ‘flood watch’ – the lowest level of warning – is replaced by ‘flood alert’, and icons have been redesigned to make them clearer and easier to understand. ‘Flood warning’ means that flooding is expected, urging people to take action to prepare. A ‘severe flood warning’ will be issued when flooding poses a danger to life.

Earlier this year, the Environment Agency automatically signed up some 500,000 additional homes and businesses to receive free localised river and sea flood warnings, more than doubling the total registered to almost one million properties. It is hoped that the changes will encourage even more people to sign up and keep up to date with the latest weather and flood forecasts.

Householders and businesses can also monitor rising water levels during a potential flood at over 1,700 river and coastal locations across England and Wales online at http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/riverlevels.

Over five million people in England and Wales are at risk from flooding from rivers and the sea. Those in flood risk areas should sign up to the Environment Agency’s free flood warning system – the most immediate and localised source of information on flooding – by calling 0845 988 1188 or visiting www.environment-agency.gov.uk/flood.

These developments follow recommendations made by the Pitt Review into the floods of summer 2007.

Craig Woolhouse, the Environment Agency’s head of flood incident mManagement, said: “The recent devastating events in Cornwall remind us of the dangers of flooding and how being prepared is crucial.

“One in six homes in England and Wales are at risk of flooding. We urge everyone to check whether their property is at risk by visiting the Environment Agency’s website and taking steps to prepare, such as looking at ways to make properties more flood-proof.

“Our new online flood forecasts, along with clearer warnings, will better prepare people for potential flooding, helping protect lives and property.”

Flooding and Coastal Erosion Minister Richard Benyon said: “Half the battle in protecting homes from floods is being prepared. These updates to our flood warning service will give people whose homes are at risk of flooding more detailed warning up to three days in advance and better advice on what action they need to take. This is part of our commitment to meeting the Pitt Review recommendations to help manage the risk of flooding.”

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