The weather is changing as climate scientists have been predicting for decades, in fact, all over the world, the weather has become wetter and wilder. Over the last decade, the UK has seen a devastating amount of rainfall and extreme floods. The weather has become completely unpredictable from month to month. Record rainfall and high river levels have led to widespread floods causing devastation to cities and misery to communities. Thousands of lives have been affected by businesses and people’s livelihoods being swept away along with the water.
In 2007 inland flooding affected over 55,000 homes and businesses and was the worst seen for 60 years. The winter of 2013-2014 was the wettest winter on record for the UK, and between November 2015 and January 2016, we had the most ever rain, causing some of the most extreme and severe floods in 100 years. In the summer of last year, there were a series of flash floods in London, damaging homes and businesses. Several train stations, schools and hospitals were flooded. In July this year, thousands of Londoners suffered devastating impacts by flash floods that were caused by unpredicted torrential rainfall.
It has been reported that rainfall in the UK has been steadily increasing for the past 40 years. It is definitely wetter than it used to be with 7% more rain and sea levels have risen by 1.6cm. These might seem like insignificant changes, but these are the averages and they mask the extreme results. It is the intense rainfall and storms that are way above the average that cause the most damage. Climate scientists have predicted that flooding in the UK could increase by an average of 15-35 per cent by the year 2080.
What comes next in the article?
- London Flood Defences. Are they sufficient?
- Not Just Weak Flood Defences! The Causes of Flooding.
- How to Protect Your House?
Are London Flood Defences Up To The Job Of Defending The City?
London’s location and proximity to the Thames make it prone to different types of flooding from different causes. These include surface water from excess rainwater, river and tidal flooding and sewer and groundwater flooding. Surface water flooding generally occurs after heavy rainfall in urban areas, when water cannot drain away or soak into the ground.. River flooding happens when the river cannot manage the amount of water that is entering it. Tidal flooding occurs when there is an extremely high tide.
The biggest defence that London has against flooding is the Thames Barrier. This defence is one of the largest movable flood barriers across the globe. It spans 520 metres across the River Thames and it protects 125 square kilometres of central London from flooding by tidal surges. It has 10 steel gates that can be raised into position across the River Thames. each as high as a five-storey building.
Concrete and earth bank defences are also present, in areas which are likely to flood in London. Highly effective dams and reservoirs can also be found around London, these capture excess rainfall to allow the water to be slowly released downstream, controlling water levels and water pressure. There are additional defences around the Thames, including 9 tidal surge barriers, more than 400km of raised flood defences along the Thames and the tributaries and flood gates present where there are access points.
Flood defences are not enough! The weather has no mercy!
The increase in flooding over the past 50 years in the UK is the worst in Europe and the cause has been attributed to climate change and Global Warming. The warmer the atmosphere the more water vapour can be held in the air. So as the temperature increases more water will become held within the atmosphere and when it is released this results in more intense downpours and more rainfall volume.
However the increase in flooding is not just due to global warming, the damage that we have done to the environment also plays a significant role. Actions like draining peat bogs, removing hedgerows, destroying salt marshes, concreting green spaces in urban areas and building on flood plains, have taken away nature’s way of coping with these disasters.
Deforestation has played a large role when it comes to flooding occurring. Without forests and woods to absorb the water from the ground it remains waterlogged and any further rainfall becomes surface runoff. It is a large amount of surface runoff that can lead to rivers breaking their banks and widespread flooding.
How can you protect your house? Top flood defences for homes!
Over 5.2 million homes and properties in England are currently at risk from flooding. These numbers will rise. In 2021 a report revealed that 200,000 London homes and workplaces are at medium or high risk of surface water floods.
Wherever it happens, flooding is a tragedy for individuals and communities. Even though most people survive all but the most extreme floods, property damage and the loss of irreplaceable personal effects such as photographs, keepsakes, furniture and ornaments, make a devastating situation.
Make sure that you are not put in that position and take steps to protect your home from flooding. If your property has a basement, make sure it is properly sealed and waterproofed. Call in professionals and make sure your basement and foundations are protected. Consider waterproofing your exterior walls. There are a range of preparations that you can perform.
- Apply sealants to any cracks in your home’s foundation. You can also apply coatings and sealants to the walls, windows and doorways.
- Install foundation vents or a sump pump. Foundation vents allow water to flow through your home, rather than pool around it. Sump pumps are frequently used to pump water out of basements.
- Raise your electrical outlets and switches. All outlets, switches, sockets and circuit breakers should be at least one foot above flood level to avoid significant electrical damage in the case of a flood.
- Install check valves on your pipes. Make sure that all pipes entering your house have valves to prevent a flooded sewage system from backing up into your home. Gate valves are preferred over flap valves since they provide a better seal against flood pressure