Environment Agency issues Christmas weather warning

Friday, December 20, 2013
2:00 PM

The Environment Agency is urging the public to be vigilant over the coming days as further heavy rain and strong winds could lead to flooding from rivers and surface water, especially in the South West.

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Following overnight rain, Environment Agency staff are continuing to monitor the situation and have issued flood alerts and flood warnings to residents and business owners at risk of flooding.

The weather remains very unsettled and this is forecast to continue across the weekend and Christmas period.

The ground is already very wet, river levels are high and further heavy rain is expected in the days ahead, increasing the risk of flooding. The Environment Agency is warning residents to take action now and reduce the risks and impacts.

People who are set to be away from home for the festive period are urged to check the flood situation and take precautionary steps to prepare. This could include moving valuable items to safety, before travelling. They are also urged to check the flood risk situation for their journey and at their destination.

The Environment Agency has teams on the ground checking flood defences and monitoring river levels and will have teams ready to respond throughout the Christmas period.

‘We are closely monitoring the situation across the South West. We are working to minimise any possible risk of flooding and warning residents to take action now and reduce the risks and impacts,’ said Stephen Marks for the Environment Agency.

‘Now is a good time for anyone who lives in an area vulnerable to flooding to think about the precautions they can take to protect their properties, especially if they are intending to leave their homes during the Christmas break. I would encourage everybody to check their flood risk at the Environment Agency website and keep up-to-date on warnings.’

Many or our rivers and streams in the South West respond very quickly to heavy rain and can cause flash flooding, which means flooding to homes and businesses can happen very quickly. So it is important for everyone to check whether their home or business is at risk of flooding. They can check their flood risk on the Environment Agency website http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/default.aspx) or by calling Floodline on 0845 988 118.

The Environment Agency is also urging people to plan their journeys carefully. People are encouraged to check the Environment Agency website for the latest flood information, follow #floodaware on Twitter.

‘We are continuing to warn motorists not to drive through floodwater, it is very dangerous. There is a lot of water around so avoid trying to drive or walk through any flooding and be sensible when out and about, particularly near rivers. Six inches of fast-flowing water can knock over an adult and two feet of water can move a car,’ said Kevin Barnes from the Environment Agency.

It is also important that home and business owners take steps to prepare for flooding this Christmas.

‘We would encourage people who have temporary defences which protect their homes or businesses to check that they are working and if they are going away or their business is closed for the Christmas period, to put their defences in place before they go,’ added Kevin Barnes.

You can see what other people have done to protect their homes and businesses here http://ow.ly/rV8T8

They are also advised to move valuable items including Christmas presents, out of the reach of flood water if flooding is expected.

People are encouraged to sign up to the Environment Agency’s Flood Warnings Direct service which sends messages directly to those signed up when flooding from rivers is possible in the areas where they live. They can do this by calling the Flood line service on 0845 988 118 or visiting www.environment-agency.gov.uk/flood where they can also get practical advice on what to do before, during and after flooding.

The Environment Agency updates its flood guidance every 15 minutes on its website at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/31618.aspx and you can follow the

Environment Agency on Twitter at @EnvAgencySW.

Met Office weather forecasts and warnings can be found at www.metoffice.gov.uk/ and you can follow the Met Office on Twitter at @metoffice and Facebook at www.facebook.com/metoffice.

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