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Photo: Environment Agency
Your local Fire and Rescue service has responsibility primarily for saving life, but they can also help by pumping out properties following flood, which will aid drying out. Sometimes a charge is made for this service. If someone is in immediate danger call 999 and ask for the Fire Brigade. Do not use the 999 system for services that are not urgent.
Local Police and Ambulance services continue to provide their normal services. If you have to leave your property following a flood notify the local Police station (if they have not already contacted you). The Police can give advice on securing property following flood damage.
Flooding presents many health hazards: immediate risk of drowning, contamination of water, respiratory problems from mould, stress and even long-term psychological or mental health problems. Visit your local GP or clinic whenever you have concerns over health issues and inform the doctor that you have been flooded. In an emergency (e.g. severe illness or injury) go to the casualty department at your local hospital - if necessary call an ambulance (dial 999).
Local authorities are one of the key groups at work during and following flooding. The various levels of local authority (Metropolitan Council, County Council, Unitary Authority, District or Town Council) each have different responsibilities, but responsibility for flood response is normally at the most local level (District or Town Council). Special arrangements exist in larger cities such as London. Your local authority will have emergency telephone helplines that can provide advice (consult the Telephone Directory/Yellow Pages or dial the Operator or Directory Enquiries for the correct contact number). They will also help put you in touch with other services such as emergency accommodation. Call your local authority helpline for advice.
Local Authorities are members of the Local Government Association, or the Association of Metropolitan Authorities.
The Environment Agency is responsible for issuing flood warnings and arranging flood defence in England and Wales. In Scotland, this responsibility lies with Local Authorities.
The Environment Agency operates Floodline (0845 988 1188) to give information on flood warnings. Call Floodline for detailed flood warning information for your area. You can also visit the Floodline Web site for information on flood warnings, flood maps and emergency actions in the event of flooding.
Your insurance broker may operate an emergency 24-hour telephone helpline which you should call as soon as you are able to do so. Insurance brokers will give advice on making a claim. They may handle notification to the insurance company, arranging emergency accommodation, visits by a loss adjuster and other specialists.
Remember to give them your temporary address and phone number if you move out of your house.
You may deal with your insurance company or companies through your broker, or directly if that is the way you have arranged your insurance. All insurance companies operate an emergency 24-hour telephone helpline, which you should call as soon as you are able to do so. Insurers will normally handle most aspects of a claim. In the case of flooding they will usually appoint a loss adjuster to act as their agent in handling the details of a claim. They will then normally arrange builders and other repair work. They will also help arrange emergency accommodation and other support. It is vital that you consult your insurance company before undertaking repairs on your property and it will be very useful to them if you can take photographs of all parts of the building that are damaged.
A list of helplines of the major insurance companies is available on the web site of the Association of British Insurers.
Remember to give insurers your temporary address and phone number if you move out of your house.
Although most claims are settled satisfactorily, occasionally you may need to make a complaint. This can be done through the Association of British Insurers, Lloyd’s and the Insurance Ombudsman. See your insurance policy for details of how this must be done.
Loss adjusters are specialists in the control and repair of damage. They are usually appointed by insurers to act as their agents in handling claims, particularly those of potentially high value. On a day-to-day basis you will probably be dealing with the appointed loss adjuster. Loss adjusters should be members of the Chartered Institute of Loss Adjusters.
If your property is more seriously damaged, the services of professional engineers and surveyors may be needed. Usually loss adjusters or builders commission these experts. Very occasionally, your local authority may inspect your property to see if it is fit for habitation.
These specialists should be a member of one of the recognised professional bodies, such as the Institution of Structural Engineers, the Royal Institute of British Architects, the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors or the Institution of Civil Engineers. The British Damage Management Association (BDMA) may be able to advise on flood recovery and restoration practitioners. They can be contacted on 07000 8432362.
Dependant on the property contract, you or another party may be responsible for repairs and/or re-accommodation. You should consult your contract. The Citizens Advice Bureau may be able to advise.
Following a flood, you should always turn off the building’s power supplies, get technical advice from the supplier and get your system fully checked. Usually your suppliers, such as water, electricity, gas, telephone (including cable services etc.), will need to be notified to cut off and/or restore services to your property. Suspension of some services may be needed during the flooding period and/or during clear-up and re-building work.
The Met Office is the national organisation that produces weather forecasts for broadcast by national and local television and radio. The Met Office does not deal directly with the public and does not issue flood warnings. Keep an eye on the weather forecasts and on further flood warnings – floodwaters can return a few days or weeks after an initial flood.
Flood warnings are issued to the broadcast media by the Environment Agency (in England and Wales) or local authorities (Scotland). Keep an eye out for new flood warnings on the local television and radio news during the cleanup and repair of properties.
If your property is a listed building your local English Heritage office may be able to advise you on the correct repair and restoration of the property. English Heritage's website offers advice on dealing with flood damage of historic buildings, furniture, fittings and works of art.
20 November 2002