A man whose family home was destroyed by the 2007 floods when he was just 13, leading him to set up his own flood protection business, is urging businesses to be prepared if history repeats itself.
The Summer 2007 floods forced thousands of people and businesses across the UK to leave their properties. The weather conditions, which The Environment Agency labelled as “phenomenal”, spread across Yorkshire, Derbyshire, Lincolnshire, Nottinghamshire, Gloucestershire, Worcestershire and Hull, leaving a path of devastation which resulted in 13 deaths, 44,600 homes flooded and 6,896 businesses flooded.
Brainchild of Nottingham-based Flood Protection Solutions, Simon Crowther (23), feels passionate about the fact that ten years on from the devastation, a timely reminder is needed to warn business owners about the importance of being prepared for flooding all year round.
Simon, who established his business five years ago whilst studying for a civil engineering degree, said: “Being flooded is horrible. Filthy brown water devastates the ground floor of your house, and insurance claims run into tens of thousands of pounds.
“We were out of the house for almost a year whilst it was repaired. Our insurance claim was in excess of £100,000 to repair the home. There is immense upheaval, expense and stress.
“In the intervening years everything was pretty quiet until July of 2012. Once again rain, like you would normally see in the tropics, hit our village. This time we rolled out a Water-Gate barrier. We were ready, and it saved the house.
“The product was in 30 countries around the world but not the UK. Flood Protection Solutions was born and we became the sole UK distributors of the Water-Gate.”
For business owners, the effects of flooding can be catastrophic. Research by Defra states that 60 per cent of businesses will go bust within two years of flooding, and 40 per cent of businesses never open their doors again.
In the last decade, Simon has noticed two main changes in the attitude towards flooding and flood protection: “The level of awareness and communication are definitely two huge differences between now and 2007. More people are aware of flooding now as more people have been affected by flooding both directly and indirectly, and more people use social media for emergencies and to connect with their local communities.
“Flooding is the biggest threat to the UK as a result of climate change. It has been happening more regularly and affecting more areas, with one in six homes at risk of flooding, it is not something to be overlooked.
“That is why it’s so important for businesses, as well as people, to protect themselves so that if their premises were to flood, they’d be prepared.”
In order to help businesses avoid substantial losses due to flooding, Simon has given his top ten tips to reduce the impact of flooding on businesses:
1. Check your flood risk. There are many different types of flooding, so it is important to know your level of risk. You can get a flood report from ‘Know your Flood Risk’.
2. Sign up for the FREE Environment Agency Floodline Warning Service.
3. Draw up a Flood Plan to keep you and your staff safe.
4. Create a ‘Grab Bag’ containing essential items such as antibacterial hand gel, spare keys, water etc. Make sure this bag is easily accessible.
5. Back up customer data on a regular basis.
6. Implement a scheme to help protect your business. Why resort to sandbags when there are more effective technologies? An example is the Water-Gate barrier from Flood Protection Solutions Ltd. http://www.floodprotectionsolutions.co.uk/. Do not forget that water can come up through the ground and drains. Non-return valves and pumps can help here. Pumps are often overlooked but very important in flood defence schemes. Take a look at www.floodandwaterpumps.co.uk for a range of pumps to use to protect against flooding.
7. Be resilient by minimising damage flood water causes if it does enter your building. No flood defence scheme can ever be 100% effective. Consider replacing carpets with tiles and raising electric sockets etc.
8. Familiarise yourself with how to shut off gas, electricity and water supplies
9. Store important documents higher up. Make sure they are easily accessible if possible.
10. Know where you would work from if your business was flooded. Could you move upstairs? Should you arrange a strategic partnership with another local business which could provide office space?