England (along with many other countries) has quite a lot of floods. But most are not ‘acts of God’. Flooding is serious, as it causes people to live in damp cold homes, and some people even lose their homes, or have insurance premiums go up. Floods also harm pets and wildlife, and result in unsafe electrics. Then if people eventually move back in, often the rivers burst their banks, and floods happen again in the same areas.
- Use peat-free compost. Peat makes up natural bogs, which keeps land uneven to soak up water, and preserves wildlife habitats. Keep cocoa, pine and tire mulch away from pets (could poison, puncture or choke – also keep fresh compost away from pets, as it contains mould.
- Get involved with The Conservation Volunteers to plant more trees on public land. Removing trees contributes to floods, as they soak up rain (only a petition stopped the government selling off public forests to industry). See toxic trees and plants to avoid near pets (many trees including yew and oak are toxic to horses).
- Read why pheasant shooting causes floods (and how to prevent it). And why beavers help prevent floods.
new ideas in flood proection
Better town planning can go a long way to prevent floods (using permeable paving and green roofs). The city of Portland, Oregon (with similar rainfall levels to us) has a Depaving group that rips up asphalt in unused car parks to replace with green spaces to soak up heavy rain. Even the main supermarket chain has swales (above image) that soak up heavy rain and filter contaminants.
It’s also good to import ideas from The Netherlands, a low-lying country where half the country is at risk of floods. As a result, it has been at the forefront of innovative solutions. In 1953, a storm flooded the entire country resulting in almost 2000 people losing their lives. The country has worked with nature to give rivers more space to flood, and created lakes and parks that transform into emergency reservoirs, if flooding occurs. The ‘Room for the River’ program in the city of Lent has turned a peninsula into a seasonal island, working with nature, instead of against it. These ideas have been imported to New Orleans, which suffered from a heavy flood a few years back.
- Floodsax sandless bags are better than sandbags. These are not heavy, just fill with water and they mould to shape around doors. They are easily disposed off, with no pollution. One Yorkshire warehouse prevented £360K of damage, by switching.
- Water-Gate is a temporary barrier that self-deploys as it rolls out, using water weight to hold it back. The company also makes a Community Flood Kit to help the 1 in 6 homes at risk of flooding.
- Diluvium Flood Barrier (Norway) is a portable solution that sets up in minutes by one or more people. The parts connect to each other and even around corners. The water weight keeps it upright.