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'Ignore at your own peril': 144,000 homes at risk of flooding this winter

Communities across the region are being urged to prepare for flooding this winter with the Environment Agency warning of “ignoring the danger at your own peril”.

144,000 homes across the West Midlands are at risk of flooding this winter, according to the Environment Agency
144,000 homes across the West Midlands are at risk of flooding this winter, according to the Environment Agency

Nearly 144,000 properties are at risk of flooding across the West Midlands region.

The figure includes 54,663 properties at risk in Shropshire, Herefordshire, Worcestershire and Gloucestershire, while 89,330 properties are at risk of flooding in Staffordshire, Warwickshire and West Midlands.

Amid increased extreme weather events brought on by the climate emergency, the agency is launching an awareness campaign today – Flood Action Week – to encourage those who live in areas at risk of flooding to act now to protect their home, possessions and family.

This year the West Midlands experienced its highest ever recorded temperatures with Met Office confirming that England had its joint hottest summer on record. Much of the country is still struggling with drought.

Looking ahead to this winter, although the Met Office says the chance of wet and windy weather increases as we go through the season, unexpected flooding could occur at any time and communities are being warned not to be complacent following this summer’s dry weather.

One of the key messages coming from COP27, which gets underway in Egypt this week, is that we must plan and prepare for increasingly extreme events.

This Flood Action Week, which starts today and runs until Sunday, the Environment Agency is urging people to check their flood risk online, sign up for flood warnings and know what to do if flooding hits.

Ian Jones, Environment Agency area flood and coastal risk manager for the West Midlands, said: “We are seeing the impacts of climate change through wetter winters and drier summers.

"The Environment Agency is working to help communities in the West Midlands become more resilient to extreme weather and is prepared to take action this winter if needed.

"Everyone can be prepared by checking their flood risk and signing up for flood warnings.”

This year’s Flood Action Week comes as the Environment Agency has now expanded its flood warning service to reach almost 50,000 new properties at risk of flooding and hopes to exceed its target to provide new warning capability for 62,000 properties at risk of flooding by this winter.

It brings the number of properties registered with the service to 1.6 million.

Will Lang, from the Met Office, added: “Winters in the UK usually include a wide variety of weather, and this winter looks to be no exception.

“Although we expect to see high pressure dominating our weather through much of the early winter, which increases the potential for cold spells, we could still see wet and windy weather at times.

“The risk of unsettled weather increases as we head into 2023 with wet, windy, and mild spells a real possibility.”

With just 30cm of flowing water being enough to float a car, drivers are also being warned not to attempt to drive through flood water and take extra precautions in wet weather.

Tony Rich, from The AA said: “It's vital for drivers to be aware of the risks of driving in floodwater and during heavy rain. Roads can quickly become flooded, making your intended route impassable, so allow plenty of time for journeys. It’s also important to leave more space than normal between you and the car in front to allow for greater stopping distances."

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