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Are you flood ready? - I get knocked down, but I get up again

Are you flood ready?

This lesson is about flood risk and personal resilience.

Key questions

  • What does the government want us to learn about in terms of tackling flood risk?
  • What is personal resilience?

Key concepts

  • Place
  • Environmental interaction
  • Scale
  • Sustainable development
  • Physical processes

What does the government want us to learn about in terms of tackling flood risk?

In addition to this, the Environment Agency (a non-departmental public body of the Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs) suggests some simple steps for protecting our homes and businesses from flooding. These include:

  • Sign up for flood warnings. Floodline Warnings Direct is a free service that provides flood warnings direct to subscribers by telephone, mobile, email, SMS text, fax or pager. The service also provides simple advice on what to do before, during and after a flood
  • Obtain temporary flood protection equipment, for example plastic covers to seal airbricks, sandbags and floodboards
  • Make an emergency flood plan with your family so that you all know what to do during a flood, and practice the plan so that you're prepared

The organization also publishes a document called 'Preparing for a flood' which gives practical advice on what to do to protect yourself and your property. In addition, it gives information on the current flooding situation in England and Wales. On 12 September 2008, there were 10 Flood Watches in place nationally. The BBC website also gives comprehensive advice on actions to take before, during and after a flood.

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), extreme flooding is 'the most widespread direct risk to human settlements..., driven by projected increases in rainfall intensity and, in coastal areas, sea-level rise. Riverine and coastal settlements are particularly at risk, but urban flooding could be a problem anywhere that storm drains, water supply and waste management systems have inadequate capacity. Flood magnitude and frequency could increase in many regions as a consequence of increased frequency of heavy precipitation events, which can increase runoff in most areas as well as groundwater recharge in some floodplains'.

Between January and September 2008, regions within eleven countries experienced severe flooding: China, Pakistan, Togo, India, Laos, Mexico, US, South Africa, Kenya The Philippines and Kazakhstan. Further information.

In June and July 2007, extensive flooding in England and Wales highlighted the susceptibility of many communities as several periods of very heavy rainfall overwhelmed drains, river channels and flood defences. Often, this occurred quickly and the location of the resulting flooding was difficult to predict. In total, around 49,000 houses and almost 7,000 businesses were flooded, and transport links, power and water supplies were disrupted.

With adequate warning, the impacts of flooding can be minimized, but the unpredictability of the timing and location of floods means that, as in the cases above, nature can always surprise us.

What is personal resilience?

Resilience is 'an ability to cope with change while continuing to function normally' (definition obtained from the Waterworlds website). The government wants us to build up our personal resilience to flooding and other emergencies, 'to reduce the risk from emergencies so that people can go about their business freely and with confidence'. To this end, it has set up UK Resilience, a news and information website run by The Cabinet Office which concentrates on emergency preparedness, response and recovery. The website provides information and guidance for the public on a number of current high profile risks. On 12 September 2008, these were named as Avian Influenza (Bird Flu), Flooding, Foot and Mouth Disease and Human Flu Pandemic.




Download the I get knocked down PowerPoint presentation which sets the scene for the unit ahead by explaining one of the key terms that you will come across - resilience - and explains the link between this term and our study of flooding in the UK and elsewhere.

There are some questions within the PowerPoint - make sure you answer them or discuss them with your classmates as you go through.



Be aware, be prepared, take action

The best way to deal with any sort of danger is to be aware, to prepare, and to know how to act when trouble comes your way. This is what we mean when we talk about being resilient, and it is very relevant in the case of flooding:

  • Be aware of flooding
  • Be prepared for flooding
  • Know what actions to take if a flood occurs.

In the be aware, be prepared card sorting activity, all of the actions mentioned on the cards fit into one of the categories listed above. Can you work out which goes where?

Expect the unexpected

It is important to remember that we can not prepare for everything that comes our way in life. Why might flooding be worse than anyone ever expected?

In 2004, the village of Boscastle in Cornwall was devastated by unexpected flash floods. The Boscastle case study tells you more about the event.

Write a timeline to summarise the key events. Remember to include both the causes and the effects of the flooding in your answer.

Why do you think the flash floods came as such a surprise to the residents of Boscastle?

Do you think you could keep your cool if something happened that was way beyond your expectations, like the Boscastle flood, or would you panic?

How might you help calm down other people if they were panicking?



It will never happen to me

The it will never happen to me PowerPoint presentation shows you the chances of various things happening to you during your life.

Which of the events shown is most likely to happen?

Why is it so important to get insurance for your home?

Why do you think people choose not to insure their homes?

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