There’s barely a day gone by over the Christmas period when storms and floods have been out of the news, courtesy (if you can refer to it as that) of a succession of low fronts which have targeted large parts of the north of England during the (supposedly) festive season.
While it’s not unheard of for a potential humongous water hazard to lay waste to the seaboards of southern hemisphere-located land masses (and/or outlying islands) at this climatically-troubling time of year, it’s virtually impossible for us northern hemisphere-dwellers to report anything on this Armageddon-like scale.
That is until recently, and the wave after wave of adverse storm conditions which have engulfed parts of both the north west and north east of the UK in the run-up to and over the holiday period.
First there was Storm Desmond, quickly followed by Eve, with the latest Storm, Frank, following hot on the heels. We know what you’re thinking too. It’s not just you, but even we have thought that the ferocity and damage-caused by these storms has increased ever since they were afforded names by the Met Office (a new trend which was christened in the latter part of 2015 and follows the long-established tradition set by American weather forecasters). The thing is whilst the US is used to being battered by storms (both tropical-originated and often tornado-featuring) here and now, us Brits are as seemingly prepared for the assault (and subsequent onslaught) as we are for the first impressive snowfall of the season.
Which is why it’s come as such a huge shock to most and why thousands of homeowners (and tenants) are facing up to massive bills to replace personal possessions swept aside by a succession of floodwaters last December. Admittedly, whilst predicting when and where the next ill-named storm will hit is anyone’s guess, householders in the more vulnerable areas can at least ready themselves to a certain extent for the next barrage by following the straightforward advice found beneath.
The first thing anyone should do is contact Floodline ASAP, on 0345 988 1188, or alternatively check the government’s dedicated ‘Live Flood Alert’ website (www.flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/) which gives you the lowdown on when and where floods are forecast to hit in the immediate future. It’s also imperative to get in touch with your household/business and motor insurance provider (or whoever handles relevant insurance policies – i.e, a landlord – in other instances), as well as contact your local authority too for advice and guidance on what you should do next. Of course, in the event of widespread damage you won’t be the only person attempting to make contact with various vital service providers, and facing the very real threat of potentially becoming homeless as a direct result of your property severely flooding it may be wise to speak to charities such as Shelter (call free on 0808 800 4444) in worst case scenarios.
It might also be prudent – if you find yourself voluntarily evicted (or enforced on the grounds of safety by the authorities/emergency services) – to grab what you can in terms of valuable possessions, or otherwise lock expensive items away as, believe it or not, there are often people who see this situation as an opportunity to loot flooded homes.
Anyway, what follows is a bullet-point hit list of things you SHOULD do both during and in the immediate aftermath of being flooded out of your home or business property.
During a flood it’s important to;
- Eliminate potential further risks – Think along the lines of turning off electricity supplies off or contacting your energy/utilities provider to get them to do a remote safety check. Remember, water is a conductor of electricity so in the event of floodwater coming into direct contact with electrical cables there’s always the chance that an additional dangerous scenario could present. IF FLOODED, KEEP CLEAR OF ELECTRICAL EQUIPMENT.
- Take note of damage – Although – and providing you had the foresight to arrange home insurance – your policy provider should sort out alternative accommodation for you if the floor risk is so great that you’ve been forced out of your property, you will need to document the extent of the damage at some point in order to set in motion a future compensation claim. Therefore it’s important to always check the terms and conditions of your policy and MAKE A NOTE OF THE FLOOD DAMAGE TO YOUR PROPERTY/POSSESSIONS (preferably accompanied by a photographic record).
- Contact your insurance provider ASAP – Speak with you household/business insurer as quickly as possible to inform them of the floods; all will have an emergency number by which to contact them in such situations. What’s more you can instantly access flood information by calling Floodline on 0845 988 1188. Don’t forget, buildings and contents are separate entities and therefore you will need to speak with BOTH insurance policy providers. A loss adjuster will be despatched to view your property/business to evaluate the extent of the flood damage to your possessions as soon as they can. DETERMINE HOW SOON THEY WILL BE SENT OUT AND GET CONTACT DETAILS FOR ANY FURTHER QUESTIONS RE: INSURANCE CLAIMS PROCEDURE.
- Inform the local council – Given that flooding requires a local response and call to arms it makes a whole lot of sense to speak with your local council services to see how they can help you then and there. Furthermore local councils are responsible for arranging temporary accommodation during crisis such as floods for anyone made homeless as a consequence.
Immediately after a flood it’s important to;
- Make renewed contact with your household insurer – It’s vital to seek advice as to what to do next in terms of imminent insurance claims. Whilst you will obviously need to remove debris caused by the flood, and subsequently clean and dry out your property, it’s in the best interests of both homeowners and domestic insurance providers to ensure that this is done properly with direct regards to forthcoming claims processes and protocols. ASK THEM FOR TIPS ABOUT WHAT TO DO/NOT TO DO AT THIS POST-FLOOD JUNCTURE SO YOU DON’T COMPROMISE YOUR CLAIM.
- Collate circumstantial evidence – We’re not talking CSI standard, rather make sure that you’ve compiled photographic evidence of the damage caused to your property/possessions by the effects of the flood waters. And in the meantime DON’T throw away damaged furniture until such time as your insurer instructs you to, despite it being instinctive to tidy everything up as soon as physical possible to attempt to return your home to its pre-flood condition.
- Complete a utility/appliance safety check – It’s imperative that you run safety checks after your home has suffered flood damage of any sort, which means getting your electrical wiring and appliances checked by a qualified electrician BEFORE you reconnect systems and turn anything back on.