By Dhiren Katwa
Faith and Community Leaders have united in their call for people to take action to prepare for flooding in the Midlands.
Three months on from the devastating Cumbria floods, the Environment Agency has announced plans to more than double the number of homes and businesses that receive free flood warnings in the Midlands.
From the end of February, the organisation will issue flood warnings to an extra 56,000 properties with a landline at risk of river and sea flooding in the Midlands. This will mean that just over 102,000 properties will now be registered to receive the free flood warning in the Midlands.
Faith Leaders across the Midlands are urging their communities to read the letters they will receive over the next couple of weeks, and act on the information. At present only home phone numbers will be registered to receive the warnings. But people can change this to mobile numbers or emails, if they prefer.
They are also encouraging people understand what steps they should take if they receive a warning, to be able to protect their loved ones and property.
Environment Agency Midlands Regional Flood Risk Manager, John Curtin, said: “The floods in this region in 2007 and more recent devastating events in Cumbria remind us of the dangers of flooding and how being prepared is crucial.
“By automatically signing up an extra 56,000 homes and businesses in the Midlands, we will more than double the number receiving flood warnings, giving more people vital time to get prepared for flooding, and by doing so, protecting lives and property.”
From the Sikh community, Sewa Singh Mandla, Chairman of Birmingham Council of Faiths, said: "Panicking when it happens may be a bit too late. This service is being made available to us all, why not sign up to it. It's free, and sparing a few moments to read through the material will prove invaluable, should flooding occur, God forbid. Think. You can help save a life."
Mahendra Dabhi, Chairman of Hindu Council of Birmingham, said: "Ask yourself, are you prepared for the risk of flooding? If not, do read carefully the letters you will receive. Should you have difficulty in understanding the information, do not shy away, find out more. As they say, better to be safe than sorry."
John Beard, representing the Buddhist community, said: "The consequences of flooding can be life-shattering and scary, as we often see and hear in the news. Some of us are more at risk than others. In today’s hectic world we are all busy with our own things, but I urge you all to spare a moment to think about a potential flood and how you can prepare to minimise the consequences in the event of it ever happening if not for your own sake for those near and dear to you."
Irene Chu, Chief Executive of Birmingham Chinese Society, said: "Flooding on our shores happens seldom, fortunately. But the possibility of it happening of course remains, always. So I urge everyone to spare some time reading through the material you will soon receive. It's for the benefit of us all, who knows what the future holds, in terms of our rapidly-changing climate."
The Environment Agency is sending letters out in the next couple of weeks to all homes and businesses which are to be signed up. Subscribers can choose to opt out of the service but the Environment Agency is urging everyone to check its website for more information about preparing for the risk of flooding. Just over 102,000 properties will now be registered to receive the free flood warning in the Midlands.
The extension of the organisation’s flood warning service was one of the key recommendations from the independent Pitt Review into the summer 2007 floods. The Environment Agency is also continuing to expand the number of areas in the country that are eligible for its free flood warning service.
What should people do to prepare for flooding?
Check if you are in a flood risk area:
Log on to www.environment-agency.gov.uk and enter your postcode to see if your property is in an area at risk of flooding from rivers and the sea.
Essential information on what to do before, during and after a flood can be found at
Sign up to Floodline Warnings Direct:
The environment Agency's free service provides flood warnings direct to homes at risk of sea or river flooding by telephone, mobile, email, SMS text message, fax or pager. As well as signing up for warnings, you can get simple advice on what to do before, during and after a flood. Call 0845 988 1188 to find out if you are at risk.
Know how to turn off your gas, electricity and water mains supplies
Prepare a flood kit of essentials items – this could include copies of insurance documents, a torch, a wind up or battery radio, warm waterproof clothing and blankets, prescription medication, bottled water and non-perishable foods, baby food and baby care items, important contact details.
Use temporary flood protection equipment:
Flood protection equipment can help restrict flood water. Plastic covers to seal airbricks can stop flood water coming in through your airbricks. Sandbags may be provided by your local council or you can buy your own, or fill pillowcases and plastic bags with earth. Floodboards fix to frames around windows and doors. They can be washed, stored and used again.