How to become a flood resilient community

Follow the quick links below to become a flood resilient community

How to.... Work with landowners in your community

Northamptonshire County Council often approaches landowners to request them to clear overgrown and blocked ditches and watercourses where there is a risk of flooding. However, as there is an extensive network of watercourses and ditches in the county, it has been found that parish and town councils have in many cases been successfully able to provide valuable assistance in identifying and helping to resolve these issues by working with us to help reduce the risk of flooding in their communities.

As part of the partnership working initiative that we are trying to encourage, we would request that Parish and Town Councils become more involved in the early stages of discussions and negotiations when it comes to flood risk matters. Using their local knowledge and contacts to make the initial informal approaches to landowners to undertake clearance of their ditches, watercourse, pipes or drains etc. can be extremely helpful.

The suggested approach is set out below:

  1. An informal approach by (telephone or email) from a parish or town council representative is made asking a landowner to clear ditches and watercourses.
  2. If there is no action by the landowner the first letter can be sent requesting action (see top right to download the first letter template).
  3. If the clearance is still not undertaken a second follow-up letter can be sent to the landowners (see bottom right to download the second letter template).

Should you encounter any problems the Northamptonshire County Council Flood and Water Management Team can be contacted at floodandwater@northamptonshire.gov.uk, who can then prioritise any further action as appropriate. Where the flooding is from a main river this matter should be referred to the Environment Agency who can be contacted through our Who is responsible page.

How to.... Get a Community Flood Risk Report

The Community Flood Risk Report is an outline report for the community that summarises the level of risk of flooding to the community. It is a useful tool for the community to start engagement and to raise awareness within the community of its level of risk, and should also be used to feed into the Community Flood Plan.

The investigation should be desk-based and the report should include:

  • Mapping to show the risk of flooding to the community from rivers, surface water and groundwater;
  • Information on the important features within the community, such as schools, surgeries, houses and businesses, that may be at risk of flooding;
  • Information on recorded flood history within the community, some of this information is available from the LLFA;
  • Recorded flood levels for main rivers, where applicable, available from the Environment Agency;
  • Plans showing existing flood assets that the community are aware of, such as highways drainage, public sewers, large culverts etc; and
  • Aerial photography of the community.

The reports need to be prepared by a suitably qualified flood risk engineer. If you are considering hiring a professional, we would recommend that you use the Buy with Confidence website, which provides a directory of businesses who have been vetted and approved by Trading Standards to ensure that they operate in a legal, honest and fair way. The National Flood Forum’s Blue Pages website and the Property Care Association website both provide independent directories of flood protection products, services and providers.

Alternatively, the Northamptonshire County Council Flood and Water Management team can prepare Flood Risk Reports for your community. Email us at floodandwater@northamptonshire.gov.uk with the subject title Community Flood Risk Report for [name of your community]“. Two example Flood Risk Reports for Brigstock and Geddington can be downloaded to the right.

How to.... Get a Community Flood Risk and Mitigation Investigation

The Community Flood Risk and Mitigation Investigation is the next step after the Community Flood Risk Report. Using the community flood risk report as a baseline, a qualified engineer would visit the community and prepare a more detailed assessment of flood risk, to include mapping of privately owned flood assets, current land ownership, locations of historic land drainage ditches, and local knowledge of historic flood risk. The Investigation should provide recommendations of actions that can be taken by the community to reduce the likelihood and impact of flooding, including a regime for inspection and maintenance of community flood assets.

The reports need to be prepared by a suitably qualified flood risk engineer. If you are considering hiring a professional, we would recommend that you use the Buy with Confidence website, which provides a directory of businesses who have been vetted and approved by Trading Standards to ensure that they operate in a legal, honest and fair way. The National Flood Forum’s Blue Pages website and the Property Care Association website both provide independent directories of flood protection products, services and providers.

How to.... Run a Community Flood Event

It is a good idea to hold a local meeting of residents to make the community aware of any potential flood risk, to provide an opportunity for concerns to be discussed and an action plan to be developed. This type of event also offers the opportunity to recruit Flood Wardens and ask for volunteers.

At the event  you should attempt to collate all the concerns of the community into manageable groups (many residents will have the same concerns). A useful tip is to write the concerns on ‘sticky notes’ and provide large maps for people to annotate with their site-specific concerns. Once these concerns are highlighted they can be pulled into a Community Flood Action Plan. Ensure you have paper and pens to hand and ask people to leave their contact details if they want to volunteer or if they have specific concerns that they would like to be addressed.

In order to publicise your event you will need to get used to dealing with the local media. The more people that know about the event, the more people are likely to turn up. Local newspapers and radios are usually keen to hear from people with a ‘local’ story. Parish magazines, posters and the village website are all great places to advertise an event. Advertise in libraries, village halls and churches etc. and if they are not already involved, inform your Town or Parish Council and residents groups, etc.

Local people are the experts and are aware of what happens in their particular community when heavy rainfall occurs. Any historic flood information that is collected at the event would be helpful to Northamptonshire County Council, therefore please send any records to floodandwater@northamptonshire.gov.uk.

It is recommended that you invite the Environment Agency, your local District/Borough Council, the County Council, Northamptonshire Highways, and your relevant Water Company to the event to be on hand to answer any technical questions. If you are inviting Agency or Authority staff you will need to find a time to suit all and provide as much notice as possible – ideally up to six weeks.

To ensure that your community awareness event is as accessible to all, it is recommended that you hold the same event at different times of the day, on different days (including at the weekend) to ensure that as many people can attend as possible.

Any venue can be used for the event including a village or town hall, church rooms or even the local pub. It’s a good idea to provide refreshments!

The frequency of events will vary and will be dependent on the tasks that the group has undertaken or has set. But follow up progress meetings are highly recommended. Keep the local community informed of any progress through your town or village newsletter.

How to.... Become a Community Flood Warden

Flood Wardens can help a community to be prepared for flooding and can bring the community together during difficult times.

Community Flood Wardens are members of the local community – they can be individuals, representatives of the Parish Councils or existing volunteers for example Highway Wardens. Northamptonshire County Council, in partnership with the Environment Agency, can support Flood Wardens in their role and provide the necessary training.

Depending on the size of the community, it may be appropriate to have a single flood warden to cover a street or connecting streets or even the whole community.

Flood Wardens can help local communities to understand their flood risk and that they all have a responsibility to look after themselves, their family and property and to prepare before, during and after a flood.

Flood Wardens are the eyes and ears of the community and often called ‘flood watchers’. Whether they are out walking their dog or just walking to the shop they can keep an eye out for blocked drains and culverts, tree branches in rivers, and anything else that may cause a flood risk and report them to the appropriate land or property owners.

Although there are a number of existing Flood Wardens already operating in Northamptonshire, we do need to recruit and train more to ensure that we have effective cover. For more information on what is involved in becoming a Flood Warden please read this Flood Warden Handbook.

If you or a member of your community is interested in volunteering to become a Flood Warden in Northamptonshire, please contact the Northamptonshire County Council Emergency Planning Team at emergencyplanning1@northamptonshire.gov.uk who can provide support and training.

How to.... Create a Community Emergency Plan and a Household Flood Plan

Being prepared for an emergency will reduce the risk to you, your family and the community, and limit the damage caused by flooding.

A Community Emergency Plan is a tool you can use to help the community prepare for the emergencies that could affect your community. The Plan should be undertaken by the community, led by your Flood Warden and informed by the Community Flood Risk Report and Community Flood Risk and Mitigation Investigation. A Community Flood and Emergency Plan template can be downloaded to the right.

Households who are aware that they are in an area at risk of flooding should also have a Household Flood Plan to set out the best emergency actions. It should include who does what when flooding is forecast and emergency contact numbers. To ensure that you are prepared you should also have an emergency Grab bag ready. A Household Flood and Emergency Plan template can be downloaded to the right.

The Northamptonshire County Council Emergency Planning team provide advice and guidance for communities and individuals wishing to prepare emergency flood plans and can be contacted at: emergencyplanning1@northamptonshire.gov.uk

How to.... Get a Community Flood Store

With Community Emergency Plans and Flood Wardens in place, it is a good idea to have a Community Flood Store. This flood store provides a source of equipment and tools that your community can access during heavy rainfall and potential flooding to help mitigate and reduce impacts, making you more resilient. The equipment to be included in the flood store can be tailored to what you need and what is suitable for your community, however a suggested list can be found in our Community Flood Store Equipment List document. It’s important to think about the below when planning a Community Flood Store: –

  • Locate the flood store in an easily accessible location close to the centre of the community and in an area at low risk of flooding. This should be a community building such as your Parish or Town Hall, or a school where appropriate.
  • If there is no suitable storage unit already in your community, you may need to purchase a container to house the equipment. Bear in mind that, dependant on the container’s size, it may need planning permission, so check with your Local Authority before purchasing.
  • Ensure at least two people can access the store who are responsible and reliable, such as your Flood Warden (if you have one) or other trusted member of the community. It can be a good idea to ensure that the individual’s home is not at a high risk of flooding, otherwise they may need to concentrate on protecting their own home.
  • Make sure to get guarantees for any equipment you purchase and check and maintain this equipment regularly, as there may be long periods of time between flooding.

The Community Flood Store and contents will need to be sourced from a dedicated organisation who can guarantee the equipment. If you are considering hiring a professional, we would recommend that you use the Buy with Confidence website, which provides a directory of businesses who have been vetted and approved by Trading Standards to ensure that they operate in a legal, honest and fair way. The National Flood Forum’s Blue Pages website and the Property Care Association website both provide independent directories of flood protection products, services and providers.

How to.... Get a Community Rain Gauge Warning System

There is currently no national early warning system for surface water flooding (sometimes known as flash flooding), which can cause devastation to properties and homes in a short space of time. A Community Rain Gauge Warning System is a simple device that continuously measures and records the rainfall and raises an alert if a threshold level is reached. This threshold level would be set based on historic rainfall information in the area, in terms of quantity and duration of rainfall that would normally raise a concern about flooding in the community.

Warnings provide residents and businesses with time to act before flooding occurs so they can move their belongings to safety, engage flood defences, turn off utilities and contact those who might need assistance. The rain gauges are monitored electronically so there is no need for manual checking. However, your community would need to decide: –

  • Where the rain gauge should be installed – Choose a suitable community facility such as a village hall, and somewhere it would be safe from tampering. A school ground is a good idea allowing an educational resource for children.
  • The level of the threshold – If your community has already experienced flooding, you may know what level of rain is likely to raise a concern about potential flooding. If not Northamptonshire County Council can work with you and provide historic data to help set a level you are comfortable with.
  • Who will receive the alert and how they might respond – While it is useful for many people in the community to receive the warning, it is best for one person in the community to be able to manage the response, such as a dedicated Flood Warden (see our How to become a Flood Warden page), who can also work on developing a Community Emergency Plan (as described above).

Northamptonshire County Council has already worked with a number of communities to install a network of Community Rain Gauge Warning Systems across the county. Therefore it would be very useful if you could let us know if you are considering installing one in your community, and we may be able to assist you in setting your threshold level. Please contact Floodandwater@northamptonshire.gov.uk.

The rain gauges need to be sourced, installed and set up by a qualified engineer. If you are considering hiring a professional, we would recommend that you use the Buy with Confidence website, which provides a directory of businesses who have been vetted and approved by Trading Standards to ensure that they operate in a legal, honest and fair way. The National Flood Forum’s Blue Pages website and the Property Care Association website both provide independent directories of flood protection products, services and providers.

There are currently 15 rain gauges already installed across Northamptonshire. Why not visit our Local Weather Warning page and try our Rain Gauge Widget to see the current and historic rainfall in these communities.

How to.... Get a Property Level Protection Survey

If your property is shown on our Flood Risk Maps to be in an area potentially at risk of flooding, you should consider whether flood protection or mitigation measures to the property would be appropriate. Property level surveys should establish facts such as the level of thresholds and floors, the likely points of water entry, whether attempts should be made to keep water out of your home or just to allow the water in and enhance the building in such a way as to limit the damage and promote rapid clean up. Measures could include simple units you can fit yourself, such as covers for air bricks and vents, bungs for drains and standalone barriers for doors. Recommendations may also be made for more significant works such as replacing carpets with waterproof coverings, raising electricity sockets, and fitting permanent flood-proof doors or barriers.

The surveys need to be prepared by a suitably qualified flood risk engineer. If you are considering hiring a professional, we would recommend that you use the Buy with Confidence website, which provides a directory of businesses who have been vetted and approved by Trading Standards to ensure that they operate in a legal, honest and fair way. The National Flood Forum’s Blue Pages website and the Property Care Association website both provide independent directories of flood protection products, services and providers.

How to.... Get Children Involved in Flood Awareness

It is vitally important for children to be made aware of the risk of flooding and the damage and dangers that may result from flooding in their community or at home. With more severe weather events and increased flooding predicted in the future, children need to be well prepared for what may lie ahead.

Northamptonshire County Council has created the Flood Aware Schools Pack (located in the Education section of this website) for use by both teachers and pupils. Specifically targeted at Key Stage 2 and Year 5 pupils, it aims to inform, educate and empower children and build their understanding and awareness of flooding and the impact flooding has on communities; through use of interactive activities, different thought provoking scenarios and lesson plans that are engaging and fun!

Communities can encourage their local primary school to include the activities from the Flood Aware Schools Pack into their local curriculum. Schools could also look to undertake their own flood resilience measures such as saving rain water from the roof in water butts to use on the school garden, create a rain garden or plant trees, to get children more involved in flood awareness and what can be done to help reduce the impact of flooding.

How to.... Get Funding to become Flood Resilient

There are lots of ways that you can help reduce the damage from flooding to your home, business, land or community. If you haven’t already seen what these are, take a look now on our Flooding Prevention page and find out which is best for you.

However as most things do, these products will more than likely require some funding! With a whole host of different organisations and funding sources out there for different reasons and types of projects, you can often hit a hurdle just trying to find out which one to apply for. To make this job easier, we have created a five step question and answer Funding Tool which can provide you with an idea of what funding sources are out there!