Over the past few years, wet weather has caused mass destruction to homes and businesses across the country, with 2014 seeing Greater London and the Home Counties experiencing the highest levels of rainfall in almost a century while last winter, North England experienced severe destruction as a result of flooding. While summer may not seem long out of the way, for those of us in the drainage industry, we’re already looking forward in preparation to what could be another destructive, sodden winter.
In this month’s article, we’re looking at the increasing concern that a flood will hit London hard this winter, the reasons behind this and what you can do to protect your property.
What’s causing the increased flood risks?
It is too easy to blame a flood on winter weather and increased rainfall without looking at the underlying issue; what is causing the volatile weather and increasing the amount of rainfall, and why are we so ill prepared for heavy rain?
Global warming is one main concern for increasing flood risks, with the surface temperature of the Earth increasing year by year to an unsustainable temperature for the environment. This increased temperature has led to the melting of the ice caps which has caused the sea level to rise, having a knock-on effect for major rivers, such as the river Thames.
The increased water in the River Thames combined with the increased rainfall from the evaporation of the oceans, means that a flood risk is ultimately much more likely for the surrounding areas as the river bank cannot meet the demands of more water, overspilling the excess to the streets and roads surrounding it.
Storm surges are usually not accounted for when flooding in London happens, but their presence is a very real indication of the amount of damage that global warming is causing to our Earth. Surges are caused by strong winds pressing down the sea in areas of low atmospheric pressure which causes water to be sucked upwards and forming a hump when two winds collide. The hump then causes a strong tidal movement that can impact the sea levels for miles around. Most of the storm surges that reach the UK originate from Canada, travelling across the Atlantic Ocean and propelled across the North Sea if there is a northerly wind.
As the storm passes through smaller and smaller spaces, the size of the hump increases, putting more pressure on the east coast of England and funneling into the estuary of the River Thames by the momentum of the Earth spinning on its axis. This increased pressure causes flooding around the River Thames as the surge makes its way inland.
High tides are a natural occurrence that happens as the gravitational pull of the moon moves the water from one side of the ocean to another, but when a high tide coincides with heavy rainfall or a storm surge, flooding is a sure thing. The excess water from the high tide will flow into the adjoining rivers, causing them to burst their banks and wreak havoc on the surrounding areas.
Lack of drainage
Unfortunately, London is still not adequately equipped to deal with increased levels of water yet, with the current drainage systems not being suited to quickly dispose of the wastewater before it begins to flood.
London is a very built-up area consisting largely of impermeable materials such as concrete, which causes water to either flow further along the material or pool up if there is nowhere for the water to move to. Without adequate draining, the water has nowhere to run off, causing flooding to occur quickly. Currently in production is the Thames Tideway System, a 15-mile-long sewer that will run under the River Thames to decrease the overflow of sewage and rainwater into the river, hopefully helping to lessen the load on the overworked system currently in place. However, this project is not due to be completed until 2023, so until then, London must become more adept at dealing with and preparing for flood damage.
Protecting your property
With the risk of flooding becoming more common in London, we’ve got some tips on protecting your property from the damage:
- Use sandbags to divert water away from your property
- Raise the level of your door step
- Use a waterproof sealant on the exterior of your property
- Install flood resistant windows
- Make sure your pipes are fitted with non return valves to prevent water coming up your drains and into your home
- Cover your vents and drainpipes
- Raise the height of your power sockets and electrical items
- Switch carpets for tiles
- Install a sump pump to pump overflowing water out of the basement of your home
Following these safety precautions should help limit the damage to your property. If the flooding in your area is particularly bad, however, you can call in a drainage expert to cleanup the flooded water surrounding your property to prevent your premises becoming damaged beyond repair, or as a precautionary measure to remove the flooded water before it has entered your premises and caused internal as well as external damage.
Express Drainage Solutions offer 60 minute emergency response times for flood damage, using our huge fleet of tankers to carry out quick and effective services across London and the South West. We have a team of vastly experienced operators working around the clock, so if you require a reliable flood cleanup service, we can help. Contact us today to find out more.