There have been floods in the UK since records first began. With the oncoming of climate change and construction on flood plains, the number of major floods has been on the rise in the last 20 years the geographical and personal devastation has been terrible.
With predictions of more floods over the coming 20 years, it’s important to look at past events and to learn from what took place to try to prevent anything similar happening again.
Easter floods: 1998
As the UK planned to relax over the Easter break, the weather took a turn for the worse. A heavy band of rain over the Midlands saw the tragic loss of five lives and many thousands were forced to leave their homes. The whole central area of England, from Worcestershire to the Wash was affected and many major towns suffered flooding.
Millennium floods of 2000
There may have been the dawn of a new century in 2000, but this only heralded the increase in flood occurrences. The majority of the UK was affected with torrential downpours but particularly hard hit were York, Shrewsbury, Lewes and Maidstone. Following these floods, many large urban locations found for the first time they had a need to devise a flood risk management plan.
Destruction in 2007
The county of Gloucestershire bore the brunt of terrible flooding in 2007. The loss of life was even worse than in 1998 as 13 people were killed.
Almost half a million residents were left without drinking water due to the supply being unsafe to use and the Army were drafted in to distribute emergency supplies. Both road and rail networks came to a halt and after everyone was able to return home the bill to clear up was an estimated £6 billion.
Floods across the UK in 2012
Rain dominated the weather for much of the first half of 2012 which led to a gradual increase in danger. It started in April when a low pressure system caused the wettest month on record and there was no let up during May. The situation only worsened in June with levels reaching a 150 year high and flooding started to hit various locations across the UK. It was in Aberystwyth though on 9 June that the most damage took place when those using two holiday parks had to be evacuated. With many being rescued in lifeboats, the depth of water at one point reached 2 metres.
Winter storms of 2013-14
The freshest in our memory and the most widespread and damaging floods took place through December 2013 and into early January 2014.
A number of winter storms collided over the UK and the Somerset Levels suffered many weeks of continued flooding. Even non-tidal areas of the Thames were unable to escape and Dorset, Devon and Cornwall had coastal flooding as towns were battered and damaged.
It’s not possible to predict when the next flood of this kind of magnitude will take place but it is possible to be prepared. Flood prevention products and a household evacuation plan mean that should there be a warning, defences can quickly be put in place and the family can move to safety. Being prepared may not mean being able to save all possessions but it gives peace of mind that everyone will be able to head to a place where they will not be at risk and the most important documents and items can quickly be gathered.