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Winter warning: Be ready to pack medicine if you're at risk of flooding, expert says
23 November 2021, 00:01
The UK should be braced for flooding and at-risk households need to get ready to pack medicines and important documents, experts have said in a stark new warning.
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There is a higher chance of a wetter than normal winter over the November-to-January period, the Met Office says.
Anticipated rainfall and winds has led the Environment Agency to urge people to check how at risk they are from flooding and issue tips for people living in places that could be vulnerable.
It also wants people to find out what to do if their home is hit by floods and to sign up for alerts.
Caroline Douglass, executive director of flooding at the Environment Agency, warned: "Now is the time for us all to be vigilant, not complacent, about flooding."
The agency, which has kicked off its Flood Action Week, said if an alert is issued then people should pack medicines, insurance and other vital documents, as well as visit the flood warning information service.
If a flood warning is issued, the family, pets and belongings should be moved to safety and gas, water and electricity should be turned off.
If a severe flood warning is issued, people should follow the advice of emergency services and call 999 if needed.
The Environment Agency has 250 mobile pumps and 6,000 trained staff to protect communities from flooding.
Construction and repair of defences has been under way throughout 2021, but the agency believes 5.2 million properties are at risk of flooding.
However, despite saying that the defences protected 200,000 properties since 2019, Ms Douglass added that climate change has increased the frequency and intensity of storms.
Europeans will recall the deadly floods in Germany and Belgium, which left more than 200 people dead in July.
The Met Office's head of civil contingencies, Will Lang, said weather patterns suggested milder, wetter and sometimes windier conditions could be on the way during winter.
A milder than normal winter would match up with the warmer winters caused by climate change.
But Mr Lang warned: "Cold weather spells and impacts such as snow do remain possible, and these cold weather impacts are more likely during the first half of the period, up until Christmas.
"There is a higher chance overall than normal of wet conditions, and also that implies that there is a higher likelihood of impacts from rainfall and indeed from winds, especially later in the period, January and beyond that.”