FloodQuiz CaseStudies





Welcome to floodready.co.uk

This website has been developed to help you understand more about flooding. It provides practical advice and resources for families, schools, community groups and businesses about what to do before, during and after a flood. Its main aim is to raise awareness and support more resilient communities.

Floods can happen anywhere at any time. Even if you live miles away from the coast or a river, there's still a chance flooding could affect you and the impact can be devastating. Flooding cannot be prevented entirely, but the risks of flooding can be reduced by understanding its causes and impacts and by working together.

We have endeavoured to make the site accessible to all, although some of the terms used may require further explanation. A detailed glossary of terms used on the website can be found in the Supporting Resources section..

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Water Cycle

The Water Cycle

There is never any new water in the world. Only 2.5% of the world's water is fresh and 70% of this is locked, frozen, mostly in Antarctica.
The remainder is constantly going through a cycle, the water cycle, through which it travels great distances and changes state from liquid to gas and back again.


Precipitation is any form of water which falls to the earth’s surface from clouds - rain, hail, snow or sleet.
Precipitation happens when moist air rises and cools, forming drops of water.


When water falls on to the ground it does one of two things. It either runs off or infiltrates.
Sometimes called overland flow, run off happens when the water runs over the ground, down a gradient (slope) to find its way to the nearest watercourse (river, stream) or water body (lake, reservoir, canal or sea/ocean).
This happens in built up areas, with surfaces such as concrete and tarmac, and with certain soil types such as clay.


Where possible, the water seeps into the ground through air spaces and makes its way to the nearest watercourse or water body underground.
This happens where the ground is permeable i.e. the water can sink into it. This happens in grassland and farmland areas. Once infiltrated, the water becomes groundwater.


When the sun shines on lakes, rivers, streams, reservoirs and the sea it causes some of the water to change from a liquid to a gas - water vapour.
This gas then evaporates (rises up to the atmosphere).


Clouds form from the evapotranspirated water vapour when the water condenses back into liquid form.
As clouds, the water is ready to fall as precipitation again when the moist air rises and cools.


This process is also triggered into action by the sun. Transpiration occurs when the water held in trees escapes through the leaves as water vapour.
Evaporation and transpiration together are called evapotranspiration. Evapotranspiration transports the water, as vapour, back to the atmosphere.

The Water Cycle (The End)

Click on 'loop' to see the water cycle animation play in full. Can you name the different stages in the cycle?

What is a flood


Floods can happen anywhere at any time. Even if you live miles away from the coast or a river, there’s still a chance flooding could affect you.

A flood is any occasion when water covers land that is usually dry. Some floods can happen suddenly and recede quickly, whilst some build up over longer periods of time and take weeks or months to clear. There are different sources of flooding that can occur, impacting upon people and the environment.


Coastal flooding can be the result of a failure of a coastal defence or the combination of high tides and stormy conditions. If low atmospheric pressure coincides with a high tide, a 'tidal surge' may be triggered causing higher than normal sea levels that may breach the coastal flood defences leading to flooding inland.


River flooding occurs when a watercourse cannot cope with the volume of water draining into it from the surrounding land and overflows the banks of the river. This can happen, for example, when heavy rain falls on an already waterlogged catchment area.

Watercourses include everything from large rivers down to small drainage ditches.


Sewer flooding happens when the sewer network cannot cope with the volume of water that is entering it or when pipes within the network become blocked. Often experienced during times of heavy rainfall, land and property can be flooded with water contaminated with raw sewage. Rivers and the sea can also become polluted by sewer overflows.


After long periods of rainfall, water levels underground can rise above the ground surface.

Groundwater flooding is most likely to occur in areas situated over permeable rocks called aquifers, such as chalk and sand, and can last for weeks or even months.

Surface Water

Surface water flooding is the result of high intensity rainfall flowing over the surface of the ground and ponding in low lying areas.

Impacts of Flooding


Flooded farmland can be devastating for farmers livelihoods.
Failing crops as a result of flooding can also lead to food security fears and increasing food prices for us all.
The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) has estimated that 35,000 hectares (135 square miles) of high-quality horticultural and arable land in the UK will be flooded at least once every three years by the 2020s.

Power Station

Power stations can sometimes get flooded. This can be dangerous and have impacts upon people and the economy.
If they are flooded, vital infastructure can be affected resulting in power cut to thousands of people in communities, often for days or weeks.

Power stations, such as coal burning and nuclear, require a large amount of water for cooling. This is the reason they are often sited near water sources, such as rivers and the coast.

Public Transport

Railway lines can sometimes get flooded, meaning a vital transport link is lost.
Local communities, commuters and businesses can be affected as well as the local economy if the railway line is cut off for longer periods of time.
Damage to network infrastructure can be costly and result in an increase in public fares.


Roads can be flooded making them impassible.
People's daily lives can be affected by being diverted on road journeys or sometimes communities can be completely cut off until the flood water subsides.
Flood water can also damage the road surface which will need to be repaired before it can be used again

Emergency Services

Losing vital emergency services to floods can be devastating for the safety of our communities especially in a time when hospitals, fire stations and police stations are needed the most.
Temporary or 'field' hospitals may have to be set up to accomodate any casualties from a flood event. This would be necessary if the main emergency centre was affected by flood water or if emergency vehicles were unable to access it.


An unexpected day off school due to bad weather can sometimes be fun for the pupils but if a school is flooded it can take a long time for it to be safe for pupils to return.
Parents are affected as they need to source an alternative arrangement for their children, children may have to temporarily move school, important work could be damaged and learning time lost.


If your home is flooded it takes on average 6 months for you to clean and repair it to make it suitable to be lived in again.
This will cost approximately £20,000. You may also find it difficult to insure or sell your home in the future due to its history of flooding.
Remember - just because you don't live close to a body of water this doesn't mean that you aren't at risk from flooding. 


Coastal flooding can impact upon homes and key infrastructure close to the coast.
If the coast is eroding, permanent loss of homes or infrastructure can occur especially after a severe storm.
When things are contaminated with salt water this can cause longer term problems than with freshwater. For example, if a sewer treatment plant is flooded with freshwater, once drained it is pretty much operational. However, if it is seawater it takes about 6 months for the bacterial colonies to be fully re-established – that’s 6 months of poorly treated sewage being discharged.
Farmland can also be negatively impacted by coastal flooding.

Flood Risk Management


Planting trees can help reduce flooding by slowing down the rate at which rainwater enters the water cycle on the ground.
Cutting trees down usually increases this rate as it means there are no leaves to trap the rainwater before it hits the ground. This speeds up the rate at which the water can flow into and across the land into rivers and streams.
Trees also play a vital part in the water cycle and help us to mitigate against climate change.

Communication / Alerts

As part of a flood kit, you should make sure that any radio is battery powered and fully charged or wind-up in the event of a power cut.
In the event of a storm, listen to your local radio station for weather updates and flood warnings for your local area.
Radio alerts can give out vital information about closed transport links and emergency community 'hubs'.


To help your property and community stay safe from flooding there are some things you can do.
Simple things like creating a 'rain garden' and collecting water that runs off your roof in a water butt can help to reduce flooding. 
Wherever possible, keep your gardens lawned instead of flagging them or turning them into driveways. The drainage from a grassed area is much more gradual, helping the system in your local area to deal with the water from a rain storm event more effectively. If you do need to pave over an area of grass, choose permeable paving as this again allows for gradual drainage.


Planting crops can help to reduce flood risk by slowing down the rate at which water can run off the land into rivers and streams.
Well designed flood alleviation schemes can also increase the amount and quality of land available for farming, such as floodplain grazing marsh.


Coastal protection measures can help manage the risk of coastal flooding or erosion.
Hard measures include building sea walls and soft measures include promoting the healthy growth of sand dunes and salt marshes which are natural sea defences.
Coastal protection measures allow developments to be built close to the coastline, even in areas which were considered previously vulnerable to flooding. 


Not all floods are bad. Some floods are beneficial to our environment as they create new habitats for wildlife. Others enrich farmland with nutrients which is of benefit to future crops.
Areas of high flood risk can be protected by allowing floodwater in designated areas nearby.
Click here to read a case study about a washland scheme.

Pumping Station

Pumping stations help pump water through rivers and streams out to sea in low lying catchment areas.
They can be used to help to control flood water during a storm event, preventing it from flowing onto areas of developed land.
Click here to read a case study about a pumping station.

Community Centres

Community centres, such as churches, can often be a hub for the community to get together to support one another in the event of a flood or to plan ahead if it is known that their community is at risk of flooding.
This helps everyone to be clear on a plan of action of what community members can do before, during and after a flood event to reduce the risk and consequences of flooding.

 Video courtesy of http://www.cumbriaaction.org.uk

Building development

Inappropriate development in areas at risk of flooding should be avoided by directing development away from areas at highest risk.
Where development is necessary, it is essential to manage water appropriately on site to ensure flood risk elsewhere is not increased.
There are numerous ways of doing this which include Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems (SuDS) such as swales, filter strips and biodetention areas.

Climate change

We are living in a changing climate. Scientists predict that in the future we will see; warmer, wetter winters; hotter, drier summers; increasing sea levels; more extreme weather events
It is expected therefore that floods will become a more common occurence. This means it is vital that we try to mitigate and adapt to climate change sooner rather than later.


Sustainable Urban Drainage Systems allow water that falls on roofs, driveways and roads to be managed more effectively to reduce the risk of flooding.
In turn this can also improve the quality of water flowing into our rivers and create friendly green spaces for both wildlife and the community.
Video courtesy of www.susdrain.org

Power Station

The knock on effect of a community losing power supplies can be huge. If there is a flood risk posed to power stations or their infrastructure, energy companies will often invest in flood prevention or protection schemes in an attempt to minimise their chance of flooding. 
Flood risk management schemes (such as dams) can also generate power to enhance existing electricity distribution grids.

Homes and Businesses

If your home or business is at risk of flooding or has been flooded in the past you can make changes to reduce the impacts and consequences of flooding in the future by becoming more resistant and resilient to flooding.
Click on the image to find out more.

River Levels

If you live near a river, it is in your best interest to be aware of water levels, particularly during times of heavy, prolonged rainfall.
Being better informed can help the homeowner decide if they need to take action and what action if any to take.
You can monitor real time river levels near your property by clicking here.