If your home was flooded in Storm Desmond, you are probably still dealing with the aftermath. But you may also be worrying about what happens next time we face extreme rainfall again – is home flooding now inevitable in the future?
Homeowners and flooding
Leaving aside the arguments about climate change and extreme weather, many householders are angry when their home floods for a number of reasons:
- They feel local authorities should be doing more to maintain drains and rivers, so that extreme rainfall and flooding can clear away more easily.
- They realise their house is on a flood plain and think it should not have been given planning permission.
- They point to the lack of advance local preparation for the storm e.g. that if sandbags had been available earlier, they may have escaped the worst.
- They needed more support during the flooding and it wasn’t there, or didn’t come soon enough.
- The lack of Government funding for recommended flood alleviation schemes.
All perfectly understandable and justifiable, but in reality, what needs to change or can be changed to prevent home floods in your area next time around. If local authorities increased maintenance of drains and rivers, then flood waters could clear away more quickly. However, with the volume of rain we faced with Storm Desmond, it is unlikely that this alone could have prevented flooding. The issue of building on flood plains has to be addressed but in the shorter term, there are some things householders can do to address home floods themselves, or at least to minimise the damage.
Practical steps to deal with flooding
- Prepare your personal flood plan i.e. compile emergency contact details, decide what needs to be moved and what can’t be moved; put in flood protection boards to windows and doors, which can be bought off the shelf.
- Heed weather forecasts for heavy rainfall and start outdoor work in advance e.g. have sandbags; check your own drains.
- Get together with neighbours and set up a local ‘draining/flood protection’ group to see what measures can be taken locally to improve drainage and talk to your council about these measures.
- Ask this local group to also support/co-ordinate advance preparations such as sandbags, and help out over the course of potential flooding events.
These are some examples of practical steps that should help individual householders but at the end of the day, there should be one national body which addresses flooding. For example, the OPW, the ESB and Inland Waterways all share responsibility for the Shannon, but from a different perspective and don’t share collective responsibility for flooding. A national body could bring everyone together to address issues like town planning to maximise sustainable urban drainage systems, flood drainage, planning permissions, river and drain maintenance and support for those who face home floods. But let’s not hold our breaths waiting for it to be set up…….