Risk of flooding despite continued drought, warns Environment Agency

THE Environment Agency has warned today that drought conditions can increase the risk of flash flooding.

Dry, compacted soils mean that water is less easily absorbed into the ground, and so any future storms could lead to a greater risk of flash flooding. One in six properties in England and Wales are at flood risk.

The warning comes on the day that the world’s first social media flood warning application has been launched on Facebook.

‘FloodAlerts’ is a free to use application and was created and developed by Shoothill, a software developer specialising in online mapping and data visualisation solutions.

Craig Woolhouse, Environment Agency head of flood incident management, said: “As the drought in England continues, the thought of flooding may be far from people’s minds, but we cannot ignore the risk.

“Dry and compacted ground means that there is a greater risk of flash flooding if there is heavy rainfall, and stormy seas and high tides can produce floods at any time.

“Being prepared is vital to help reduce the risk of flooding. With over five million people living or working in areas at risk from flooding across England and Wales, we are urging communities to use the new application, alongside our existing Floodline Hotline and website updates, to keep one step ahead of future floods.”

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The Facebook application uses live flood warning data from the Environment Agency. It is the first service of this type and allows Facebook users to receive messages on their wall when a Flood Alert, Warning or Severe Flood Warning has been issued for river and coastal flooding in their location.

The UK has seen extremes such as heat waves, record high temperatures and heavy precipitation in recent years and both droughts and deluges are to increase according to a report recently published by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

The report suggests the world is likely to experience both longer and more severe droughts in some regions and heavier and more damaging rainfall in others. With one in six properties in England and Wales at flood risk, the Environment Agency is urging people to sign up to its free flood warning service.

Rod Plummer, Shoothill managing director, said: “FloodAlerts is the world’s first graphical representation of the flood warning data on Facebook which provides localised updates every 15 minutes, keeping users informed about the potential flood risks in their area on a Microsoft Bing Map.

“We created FloodAlerts on Facebook for the simple reason that social media is now becoming the de facto first choice of many of us to get latest news affecting their lives and with over 50 per cent of the UK population now having a Facebook account, and the other 50 per cent probably knowing someone who has one, it seemed logical to us that the delivery of Flood warnings through the site is a simple but effective way to help get the warnings to people who need them fast, accurately and through a medium they are already using.”

Facebook users can search for the free application by entering ‘FloodAlerts’ into the Facebook search facility.

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