Looking back at winter 2015, I found it very difficult to use the greeting “turned out nice again” when discussing the weather.
November was downright dreary and December a deluge, although we seem to have got away with it here, compared to the North, where it must have felt like the monsoon season.
Statistically, November 2015 was the dullest and December the wettest and warmest since 1910 when our official records began. Desmond, Eva and Frank did their worst, hitting the North and West of the country hard leaving 16,000 properties flooded according to official figures. The pictures of rivers carrying away bridges and buildings along with buses, caravans and anything else that they could pick up reminded me of Central Asia not Central Manchester. That being said, globally 2015 was the warmest on record with the greatest increase in average temperature. Fifteen of the last 16 years rank highest since international records began in 1880. Across continents, records were set with Asia and South America experiencing their warmest average temperatures and Africa it’s second warmest. So, what does this all mean for you and me? The statistics alongside projections of future climatic changes allow us to predict the likelihood of flood events. These predictions then play into debates on how much we should spend tackling flooding as a country. It also affects how we as individuals pay, whether it’s through taxation, insurance or carrying out improvements to our homes to protect against future flooding. This is relevant when you try to get insurance for a home in a flood affected postcode or are trying to sort out claims and future cover following a flood.
Following major flooding in 2011, the insurance industry under agreement with Government looked to introduce an insurance scheme to help those who cannot get flood insurance. Flood-Re is now expected to be launched in April this year which will allow 500,000 homes at high flood risk access flood cover. But, this is a small number of properties nationally given that official estimates suggest that over five million homes are at significant risk of flooding in England. So where to get advice about flood risk, protecting your home and accessing flood insurance? It’s probably best to start by researching your flood risk. The Environment Agency publishes flood risk information searchable by post code. These should provide a starting point and you can also find out about what flood defences are already in place or in development. You can also request a flood history from them free of charge. If you need advice on getting insurance, the Money Advice Service (MAS) provides a great online step-by-step guide including what to do if you are struggling to get insurance. It’s worth knowing that if you have recently bought a house, the seller’s insurance company is obliged to offer flood cover. However, there’s no guarantee that the premium they set will be affordable. If you have recently been flooded, it’s worth seeking specialist advice and MAS provides a link. If you are worried about floods sign up for phone, email or text alerts with Flood Warnings Online. Finally, make a flood plan using guidance from the National Flood Forum as well as local advice put out by Suffolk Resilience. For more information see The Money Advice Service www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk, The Environment Agency http://watermaps.environment-agency.gov.uk, The National Flood Forum www.nationalfloodforum.org.uk, Suffolk Resilience www.suffolkresilience.com, Search Flood Warnings Direct to go to https://fwd.environment-agency.gov.uk/app/olr/home