New flood warning website will keep English and Welsh residents in the know

Residents and businesses in England and Wales are now able, for the first time, to access flood warning information online 24 hours a day, which is updated every 15 minutes, with a new website launched by the Environment Agency.

The new service comes one year after the launch of online floodplain maps by the Environment Agency at the height of last Autumn’s floods, which was used by nearly one million people. During that particular period of flooding there was a total of 1,437 flood warnings issued by the Agency, of which 190 were severe flood warnings.

The new online information service lists the numbers and levels of flood warnings in 1,300 locations in England and Wales, providing information to 1.17 homes and businesses, and has a searchable database of flood information that can be searched by river, postal code, or town name. Special features also include a flood warning history for each area, maps of flood warning areas, and supporting information such as TV and radio stations that broadcast flooding information. The website also offers guidance on how to use and obtain sandbags.

In 2002, the service is expected to be extended to the whole of the floodplain in England and Wales, covering 1.9 million properties.

“Flooding is a real risk,” said Jim Haywood, Head of the National Flood Warning Centre at the Environment Agency. “Research has shown that nearly a third of people who were flooded last autumn had taken no action to prepare. There are simple steps everyone can take in advance. People should keep alert to flood warnings, know what to do and take action when a warning is issued. Online flood warnings are an important new way to help people wise up and prepare for flooding.”

At the beginning of November, the Scottish Executive and the Scottish Environmental Protection Agency (SEPA) also launched a Scottish floodline information service, available 24 hours a day (see related story), similar to a telephone service launched by the Environment Agency in September last year (see related story). The Environment Agency’s telephone floodline can be contacted on: 0845 988 1188.

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