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Floods could mean bags of business for Charlotte

CHARLOTTE Mawhood doesn't wish a flood on anyone. But she'll be standing by the phone next time we're hit by a torrential downpour.

She's running a business which hopes to soak up a bucket load of inquiries from people desperate to protect their home or business from flood damage.

Quick: Charlotte with one of the Floodsax being filled with water. Each bag can hold 25 litres.

Her solution? Vacuum-packed sacks fully of a polymer which soaks up water far more effectively than a sandbag.

They're already in use with water companies and emergency services at home and abroad.

Now Barnstone-based Charlotte is expecting a deluge of inquiries from householders who live in homes at risk of flooding.

She is heading FloodSaxDirect, which hopes to replace traditional sandbags with an alternative which is lighter and easier to move around and takes up less space stored before use.

"It does everything a sandbag does but is much easier to use," said Charlotte.

"They are like pillows filled with a lightweight polymer which absorbs water and holds on to it. What makes them clever is that there is no seepage."

FloodSax are delivered vacuum-packed and contain polymer flakes which inflate to 100 times their size when exposed to water.

Charlotte says that the average house would need around 20 Floodsax to protect all its doors, at a cost of £159.

"This is more expensive than sandbags, but given that they are easy to store and much easier to use quickly we think they offer a clear advantage.

"I've been to villages and spoken to flood wardens and they like the idea of something which allows people to take responsibility for their own property.

"We also offer bulk discounts, so if people in a village clubbed together to buy it would be cheaper for them."

She says FloodSax can be kept at home and used to cope with leaks or storm damage as well as flooding.

They can only be used once, and have to be left to dry before they can be disposed of.

FloodSax were invented by a company in Yorkshire and have been exported around the world to help flood defences.

But they are less well known in domestic situations and Charlotte hops to raise awareness of them before winter sets in.

She can be contacted on 01949 869110 and more details are available online at www.floodsaxdirect.com.

Open Letter to Owen Paterson, the new Secretary of State for the Environment

We recently sent an Open Letter to Owen Paterson, the new Secretary of State for the Environment

Dear Secretary of State
Firstly, may I congratulate you on your appointment as Secretary of State for the Environment.

  • The National Flood Forum has for several years had strong links with Defra and we look forward to continuing and developing the excellent working relationship we enjoyed with your predecessor. We have regular contact with staff in Defra and with Richard Benyon, Under-Secretary of State for the Environment and Fisheries. With over 160 affiliated local flood groups across the country we aim to represent the voice of flooded communities to Government.

Flooding is a growing concern to many thousands of householders throughout the country. We at the NFF have over 10 years of experience helping individuals and communities deal with the trauma of flooding and recovery.

People who have never flooded often find it hard to understand how flooding affects people. The impact is like a death in the family and has similar long term effects. Flood victims tell us every day that the flood itself is only the start - the recovery and ordeal of restoring their lives and property is far more traumatic. Few people realise at the start how distressing it can be to deal with Insurance companies, Loss Adjusters and builders they didn’t employ taking over their home. Many older and vulnerable people never recover fully – in health or financially.

  • Flooding hits the health and wealth of whole communities as well as individuals. The effect on the local economy – particularly local housing markets and small employers – can last for years. Severely affected areas may be blighted for a generation. Some may never recover fully.

The current insurance system covered by the Statement of Principles is inadequate. Thousands of people are effectively trapped with their existing insurer. Many others spend weeks and months hunting for a company to insure them, and whilst our advice line at the National Flood Forum is able to help most people, we regularly come across those who are uninsured because they have failed to find a company that will provide a quote. The stress and worry that this causes is considerable and the amount of effort that people have to put in benefits no one other than the insurance industry.

We know that insurance is the key to recovery and supports both the financial and social capital of communities hit by flooding. It also supports the local economy and business. Where insurance is not in place many of the costs of flooding inevitably fall on local and central government through social services, housing and healthcare, reduced business rates and taxes. Therefore it is in Government and all of our interests to insure that there is a comprehensive and efficient system in place. That’s why it’s so important for Government and the ABI to agree a replacement for the Statement of Principles.

I have appended the Consensus Statement which we presented to government on 28th March outlining the need for a Levy and Pool system. We believe this offers the fairest way of ensuring that households at high flood risk can continue to obtain insurance, so it is very pleasing to see that government has accepted this approach.

  • The NFF has worked closely with all the key stakeholders to reach this point - and we urge you now to take the lead to conclude the agreement with the insurance industry.

We welcome your reported view that it is idiotic to build on land that has flooded. It is vital that flood risk is fully taken into account when deciding where to build, to make sure that new and existing householders are not exposed to flooding. And if buyers had asked searching questions about flood risk they might never have bought some of the houses built in recent years. The Climate Change Commission’s recent report “Climate Change – is the UK ready for flooding and drought?” articulates where the current system of giving planning consent is failing.

It is also vital that new developments do not add to flood risk for existing properties and we believe developers and council planners need to be far more rigorous in considering “downstream” effects.

  • The days are gone when flooding was restricted to flood plains and major rivers. In all the catastrophic floods of recent years – at least since 1998 – more households have been hit by flash flooding from surface water and local watercourses than from major rivers. This growing dominance of pluvial over fluvial flooding is set to continue as the UK experiences more intense rainfall events.

Last year, the UK Climate Change Risk assessment concluded that increased flood risk is by far and away the greatest risk arising from climate change. The evidence base for this is stronger than for any other aspect and the impacts are starting to be felt now.

There are few areas now where flooding cannot occur – even far up hillsides. Intense rainfall overwhelms any drainage system and surface water flows like a river down roads and into houses. Runoff from farmland can also swamp houses that lie in the way.

  • We would very much like to meet you and explore how we can assist the department in engaging with the “community of the flooded”.

Yours sincerely

Charles Tucker
Chairman
National Flood Forum

 

FLOODING is the greatest threat to the UK caused by climate change, according to a Government report.

The report by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said that the four most immediate “high consequence” risks all concerned flooding, with the expectation that in 10 years or so there will be increased flood damage to homes, with knock-on effects on insurance premiums and mental health.

Between 1.7 million and 3.6 million people are expected to be at risk of flooding by 2050, without investment to lessen the threat. Surface water flooding would be likely to get worse

Unusually for such documents, it also highlighted ways in which the country could benefit from milder winters and drier summers, such as fewer cold-related deaths, better wheat crops and a more attractive climate for tourists.

“If you had to pick one particular issue I think the flooding issue is the most dominant,” said Sir Bob Watson, chief scientist at the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

Lord John Krebs, chairman of the adaptation committee of the independent advisory group Committee on Climate Change, said that without planning and investment to deal with the threats the UK would “sleepwalk into disaster.”

Scientists and other experts led by Defra identified 700 impacts of climate change in the UK, including the possibility of refugees arriving from wars sparked by dwindling water and food.

High-impact events expected by mid-century included decreased forestation, shortages in public water supply (especially in the north, Midlands and south of England) and worse water quality.

The findings follow controversy over cuts to the UK flood defence budget.

The report was widely welcomed as a way to help government departments, businesses and councils plan ahead.

But shadow environment secretary Mary Creagh said: “In 2010 Labour invested £354m in protecting homes from flooding which has been cut by 27% to £259m a year for the next four years under this government.

“Ministers are playing Russian roulette with people’s homes and businesses by cutting too far, too fast, and could leave communities blighted, with homeowners unable to insure, mortgage or sell their homes after 2013 when Labour’s deal with the insurance industry runs out.”

It will be seized upon by lobbyists to argue for spending priorities and used by government to prepare the national adaptation plan, due to be published next year.

Julian Hunt, emeritus professor of climate modelling, at University College London, said the report’s finding that there would be longer periods of “static weather” and cloud cover could threaten solar and wind energy from solar and wind sources energy.

He added: “This leads to dangerous urban heat island temperatures and droughts. But it also indicates the danger of lengthy, very low, wind conditions or cloudy conditions – so low-carbon energy alternatives to wind and solar are essential.”

The full story can be found at http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment
/2012/jan/26/floods-worst-climate-change-uk

People whose homes are at risk from flooding should stock up on FloodSax® sandless sandbags which are exceptionally easy to store and deploy.

 
01949 869 110