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Flooding

Residents of West Somerset are reminded that they have the responsibility to protect their properties from flooding.

It is the responsibility of the Environment Agency (EA) to monitor rainfall and river flow continuously and to issue warnings, When conditions suggest that floods are likely, it is the responsibility of the EA to issue flood warnings to the Police, The Fire and Rescue Service, to the relevant local authorities and the public.

The public can call the Flood Line on 0845 988 1188 or visit the EA Flood Warning website (under External Links).

Each area within the South West Region of the EA has a rota of Flood Warning Duty Officers responsible for the monitoring and issue of warnings.

Information is also available from the BBC Weather and Met Office weather warning service (websites under External Links).

Flooding Action Plan

The Somerset County Council 20 Year Action Plan is available on the Somerset County Council website.

The EA operates a flood warning system for the rivers within West Somerset. The new flood warning system is outlined below in four stages.

Flood Alert

What it means

Flooding is possible.  Be prepared.Severe Flood Warning

When it's used

Two hours to two days in advance of flooding.

What to do

  • Be prepared to act on your flood plan.
  • Prepare a flood kit of essential items.
  • Monitor local water levels and the flood forecast on our website.

Flood Warning

What it means

Flooding is expected.  Immediate action required.Flood Warning

When it's used

Half an hour to one day in advance of flooding.

What to do

  • Move family, pets and valuables to a safe place.
  • Turn off gas, electricity and water supplies if safe to do so.
  • Put flood protection equipment in place.

Severe Flood Warning

What it means

Severe flooding. Danger to life.Severe Flood Warning

When it's used

When flooding poses a significant threat to life.

What to do

  • Stay in a safe place with a means of escape.
  • Be ready should you need to evacuate from your home.
  • Co-operate with the emergency services.
  • Call 999 if you are in immediate danger.

Warnings no longer in force

What it means

No further flooding is currently expected in your area.

When it's used

When river or sea conditions begin to return to normal.

What to do

  • Be careful. Flood water may still be around for several days.
  • If you've been flooded, ring your insurance company as soon as possible.

The EA may also issue flood warning information in the form of a Flood Warning Update and Further Flood Warning Update before a Severe Flood Warning is issued.


Gather information

Listen to the weather forecast, travel updates, flood warnings on your local radio station.  The local radio station for West Somerset is:

Before a flood
  • Put your home emergency pack in a safe, accessible place.
  • Protect doorways and low level vents with sandbags (remember to unblock these vents before switching everything back on).
  • Consider stocking sandbags now (your district/borough council may not be able to supply them).
  • Move valuables, food and other possessions upstairs where possible.
  • Turn off gas and electricity if flooding is definitely about to happen to your property.
During a flood
  • Co-operate fully with the emergency services
  • Do not switch on electricity or gas until these have been inspected by a qualified engineer
  • Do not use food that has been in contact with flood water
  • Assume that flood water contains sewage
  • Ensure that you wear gloves when handling affected items
  • Thoroughly disinfect and dry affected household items
After a flood
  • Call your insurance company. Tell them what has happened and if possible take photographs of damaged items prior to disposal, as this may help your insurance claim.
  • Check the yellow pages under Flood Damage for suppliers of cleaning materials or equipment to dry out your property.
  • Contact the gas, electricity and water companies. You will need to have your supplies checked before you turn them back on.
  • Open the doors and windows to ventilate your home (it takes a brick about 25mm/1inch a month to dry out).
  • Remember to unblock your airbricks and doorways, but take care to ensure your house is secure against intruders.
  • Watch out for any unbroken glass or nails whilst you are cleaning up.
  • Wash taps and run water for a few minutes before use. Mains tap water should not be contaminated, but check with your local water company if you are concerned.
  • Do not turn on any electrical equipment until you are sure it has dried out.
  • Beware of bogus traders. With so much damage it is tempting to take the first offer that comes along.
  • Don't panic if you can't cope. There are organisations which may be able to help or advise such as the Fire and Rescue Services, District/Borough Councils and the Citizens Advice Bureau.
  • Remember, don't think it can't happen again - restock your supplies.
Drying out and redecorating your property after flooding:
  • Initially, all floor coverings should be removed and walls washed with clean water only.
  • To help the house to dry out, windows and doors should be left open as much as possible and a fire kept alight or heat provided in each room.
  • Lift one or two floorboards, particularly against outside walls, to increase the draught under the floor.
  • Any furniture standing near walls should be removed and the wallpaper stripped off the flooded parts of walls.
  • Any silt that has found its way under the house should be cleared away and under-floor gratings should be cleared. Silt or earth accumulated against brickwork above the damp-proof course should be cleared away and built-in cupboards left open - especially the one under the staircase.
  • Walls may become covered with a white powder as they dry out. This is the salt already present in the bricks and should be brushed off dry.
  • Under-floor timbers and floorboards of suspended floors must be dried before replacing floor coverings. It is safer to use loose rugs for six months, as the longer the floor remains damp, the greater the chance of rot setting in, which will cause decay and the loss of strength of the wood.
  • If the house is built of brick or stone, the walls will take some months to dry out. Do not rush to re-decorate.
  • If re-decoration is necessary, the walls should be treated with an anti-mould solution and decorated with distemper or emulsion paint.
  • If the plaster was already perished, it may have been weakened further by the flooding and may need to be replaced. Re-plastering should be carried out as soon as possible, but then leave the bare walls for a while to dry out.
  • Hinges and locks may need oiling to prevent them from seizing up.