Flooding, gales and thunderstorms advice

Severe weather

For the latest severe weather warnings please check the Met Office website.

Live flood warnings for Harlow on GOV.UK.

Key contacts for reporting

Flood Re - a flood re-insurance scheme

Flood Re has been set up to help those households who live in a flood risk area find affordable home insurance. Part of their work also involves helping you find out more about flood risks to your home and how you can help to reduce them.

For more information contact your insurer or visit: www.floodre.co.uk

Assets affecting flooding

  • List of assets affecting risk of flooding - An asset is a structure or feature that can affect the flow or storage of water. For example, a wall next to a river could stop water from flooding houses during heavy rain. The wall could be considered an asset. Pipes in the ground, bridges and road gullies are other examples of assets that can affect flood risk.

Heavy rain and flooding

You should prepare yourself, your family and your home for future severe weather.

Before the flood

  • Find out if you are at risk of flooding and if you can receive a flood warning at GOV.UK website or call Floodline on 0345 988 1188;
  • Prepare a grab bag of essential items
  • Flood protection: Local councils do not have a legal obligation to store and provide the public with sandbags. If your property is susceptible to flooding you should be prepared to protect your property using a variety of flood protection products. Advice and guidance on many types of flood protection products can be found at National Flood Forum website

Flooding in town

During the flood

  • Avoid walking or driving through flood water - six inches (15cm) of fast-flowing water can knock over an adult and two feet (61cm) of water can move a car;
  • Stay safe and listen to the advice of the Emergency Services, and evacuate if told to do so;
  • Gather essential items together, either upstairs or in another high place.
  • Fill jugs and saucepans, and perhaps your bath, with clean drinking water;
  • Turn off gas, electricity and water supplies when flood water is about to enter your home and if safe to do so. DO NOT touch sources of electricity when standing in flood water;
  • Keep listening to local television and local radio for updates, or call Floodline on 0345 988 1188.

After the flood

  • Find out from the emergency services if it is safe to re-enter your property;
  • Take care when re-entering your property as there may be hidden dangers caused by flooding such as structural damage and contamination;
  • Contact your buildings and contents insurance companies;
  • Take photos of the damage to your property.

Severe gales

Strong winds can cause serious damage to property, blocking roads and knocking down power and telephone cables. The Met Office offers the following advice for severe gales:

Before the storm

  • Secure loose objects outside your property such as ladders, garden furniture or anything else that could be blown around by a strong wind and cause damage;
  • Close and securely fasten doors and windows, especially large doors such as those on garages;
  • Park vehicles in a garage, if available; otherwise keep them clear of buildings, trees, walls and fences;
  • Close and secure loft trapdoors with bolts, particularly if roof pitch is less than 30°;
  • If the house is fitted with storm shutters over the windows, ensure that these are closed and fastened;
  • If chimney stacks are tall and in poor condition, move beds away from areas directly below them.
  • Check your home insurance policy and keep contact details handy incase your property suffers any damage.

During the storm

  • Stay indoors as much as possible;
  • If you do go out, try not to walk or take shelter close to buildings and trees;
  • Be cautious on the sheltered side of boundary walls and fences - if these structures fail, they will collapse on this side;
  • Do not go outside to repair damage while the storm is in progress;
  • If possible, enter and leave your house through doors in the sheltered side, closing them behind you;
  • Open internal doors only as needed, and close them behind you;
  • Do not drive unless your journey is really necessary. In wet weather, stopping distances will be at least double those required for stopping on dry roads. Check the Highway Code for advice on driving in adverse weather;
  • Take care when driving on exposed routes such as bridges, or high open roads. Delay your journey or find alternative routes if possible;
  • Slow down and be aware of side winds, particular care should be taken if you are towing or in a high sided vehicle;

After the storm

  • Be careful not to touch any electrical / telephone cables that have been blown down or are still hanging;
  • Stay clear of any downed power lines and call UK Power Networks
  • Do not walk too close to walls, buildings and trees as they could have been weakened;
  • Make sure that any vulnerable neighbours or relatives are safe and help them make arrangements for any repairs.
  • Contact your home insurer to discuss any damage to your property.

Thunderstorms and lightning

Most thunderstorms pass over without any serious consequences, but if you are expecting a particularly heavy or prolonged storm, you may want to take a few precautions. The Met Office offers the following advice for thunderstorms and lightning:

Before the thunderstorm

  • Unplug all non-essential appliances, including the television, as lightning can cause power surges which can break them;
  • If you are outside, seek shelter if possible. When you hear thunder you are already within range of where the next ground flash may occur and lightning can strike as far as 10 miles away from the centre of a storm.

During the thunderstorm

  • Avoid using a landline phone - telephone lines can conduct electricity;
  • Avoid taps etc. including showers - water and metal pipes can conduct electricity;
  • If you are stuck outside, avoid water and find a low-lying open place that is a safe distance from trees, poles or metal objects;
  • Avoid activities such as golf, rod fishing or boating on a lake;
  • If you find yourself in an exposed location it may be advisable to:
    • squat down
    • place your hands on your knees
    • tuck your head between them
    • try to touch as little of the ground with your body as possible
    • Do not lie down on the ground in an exposed location
  • If you feel your hair stand on end, drop to the above squat position immediately.

After the thunderstorm

  • Avoid downed power lines or broken cables;
  • If someone is struck by lightning they often suffer severe burns. The strike also affects the heart, so check if they have a pulse.