Property flood resilience – building back better

The winter of 2019/2020 brought some of the worst floods the UK has seen since 2007, with Storm Ciara and then Storm Dennis bringing widespread flooding to many areas across the country in February 2020.

As a result of this flooding, the UK Government announced an extension to the Property Flood Resilience (PFR) grant scheme, which had already been launched following the extensive flooding across South Yorkshire and the North Midlands in November 2019.

Portable Pump
Portable Pump

This scheme provides help to people affected by the flooding to make their homes and businesses more resilient in the future. Grants of up to £5,000 have been made available to help with the cost of buying and installing flood resilient products or for internal resilient adaptation measures. Some residents are looking to ‘Build Back Better’ making their properties more resilient to flooding should they be affected in the future. Others are looking to install products such as flood barriers and floor doors, non-return valves on waste pipes and pumps to remove any water in the property.

For the grant to be made available to homeowners and businesses, the guidance requires each property to receive an independent flood risk assessment and survey, and this is a service JBA can provide. Since the grant became available, we have been busy carrying out these independent property surveys for property owners, including many across Herefordshire and Shropshire.

Independent property flood resilience (PFR) surveying

To date our flood risk experts have carried out over 70 PFR surveys across Herefordshire and Shropshire. However, this number continues to increase daily and the number of properties affected by the winter floods is known to be much greater.

The properties affected in Shropshire and Herefordshire were predominantly affected by fluvial and surface water flooding. This includes flooding from main rivers such as the River Severn in Shrewsbury where flooding lasted for 3-5 days and the River Wye in Herefordshire which saw flood waters last for 24 hours, to much smaller ‘flashy’ ordinary watercourses such as the Hilton Brook (in Hilton, Shropshire) where flooding occurred and receded within 12 hours, and the Wellington Brook in Herefordshire.

Example of a Flood Gate
Example of a Flood Gate

Regardless of the duration or source of flooding many properties in these areas experienced devastating flooding, with flood waters rapidly reaching up to several feet deep, often containing pollutants such as sewage. In addition to the physical damage and economic impacts, such floods can lead to long term stress and mental health impacts, long after the flood water has receded.

Many residents are just beginning the process of returning to their properties after the initial clear up and allowing time for properties to dry out. As well as dealing with loss adjusters and insurance claims, they have also had to manage through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, with all the stress and restrictions this has brought.  The PFR Recovery grants provide some much needed advice, support and assistance through these difficult times.

Build back better

Automatic Airbrick
Automatic Airbrick

The idea of Build Back Better is to encourage people to make their homes more flood resilient following a flood event. Examples include the use of water resistant plaster on walls and replacing flooring with resilient and easy to clean surfaces, such as tiles rather than carpet, which quickly becomes water damaged. Other examples include raising the electrical sockets to a higher level, meaning that should the property flood again, the electricity supply would not be lost.

Taking the steps to Build Back Better can be covered under the Property Flood Resilience grant scheme, in combination with flood resistance measures such as flood barriers. Implementing these measures can also help in the future with accessing more affordable flood insurance, more details of which can be found on the Flood Re website.

Whilst last year’s winter caused devastating flooding, it is important to take steps to be prepared for future flooding. Climate change is bringing more summer storms and increased winter rainfall, increasing flood risk still further. Recovering from the events of last winter’s flooding and increasing property flood resilience will help communities at risk to adapt and prepare for any future floods and to return to normality quickly as the flood water recedes.

Want to know more?

Email Phil Emonson for more information about independent property surveys and flood risk assessments. You can also find out more on our Property Flood Resilience webpages.

Please note that the grant scheme is only available for properties in England. Local authorities will be able to provide advice on what flood protection assistance is available for properties outside of England.

For more information about the Government grant scheme click here or visit your local authority’s website.

Leave a Reply