Preparing for a flood

Flooding is usually a consequence of a prolonged period of rain or heavy downpours and can be exacerbated by many variables including neglected culverts, saturated ground and blocked drainage systems. It’s hard to predict when flooding will happen because of these variables. Whilst flooding events are difficult to predict, there are services available that can help alert you to when flooding is possible and help shore up your property’s defences should flooding actually occur.

Planning and being prepared

It is impossible to remove all danger of flooding but you can take reasonable measures to reduce the damage caused to your property and minimise the effect it will have on you and your family. has detailed searchable maps that show the long-term risk of flooding to your property and community from rivers, surface water and reservoirs

Check the long term flood risk to find out how likely it is that a place could flood in the future, what factors could contribute to future flooding and where to get information about managing your flood risk.

Get flood risk information for planning applications in England

The Environment Agency has advice to help you make a plan of what you need to do and think about if flooding threatens your property.

Our emergency planning team also provides information on how to prepare for an emergency, including flooding.

If you are a homeowner, it is your responsibility to protect your property from flooding. There are a range of practical actions that you can take to reduce the impact of flooding on your property, from adapting your home to installing flood defences. 

Sandbags are a short term and relatively cheap way to manage flooding but only if they are filled and placed correctly. However, they are relatively ineffective when compared to purpose-designed flood protection products. They are of no use if a property is already flooded. Instead, residents should concentrate their efforts on protecting  family members and belongings.

Residents are encouraged to make sure their property is protected as far as possible. When flooding is threatened, we may have limited supplies of sandbags that we can provide to vulnerable residents, who are unable to provide for their own.

Due to flooding and road conditions it may be difficult for delivery of sandbags to reach residents in time. We advise that all households and businesses wishing to use sandbags purchase them in advance from local DIY stores and builders merchants, many of which offer a same day delivery service.

Sandbags may be provided to:

  • properties in imminent danger of flooding which are occupied by vulnerable (elderly, disabled and reduced mobility residents)
  • organisations in danger of flooding which are occupied by potentially 'life-saving' services eg hospitals/care homes

Sandbags will not be provided to:

  • properties that are at negligible risk of flooding or are already flooded
  • sheds, garages, gardens and outbuildings
  • residents who are able to purchase their own sandbags or have access to a Community Resilience Store
  • any other businesses

Sandbags are not guaranteed. If you live in an area that is at risk of flooding we recommend that you purchase your own sandbags as part of your own flood preparations.

If you meet the criteria, contact the Customer Service Centre on:

  • 0300 500 80 80  (Outside of office hours, please choose the option for Highways.)

Ensure you have home insurance in place to cover both building (unless rented) and contents.

If you have building cover, your insurer should dry, clean, repair and restore your home.

If you have contents cover, your insurer should dry, clean and restore your possessions or replace or pay for any possessions that cannot be cleaned up or repaired.

Find out about getting about insurance when living in a flood risk area.

Flood Re

Flood Re is an insurance scheme set-up by government and insurers. It helps homeowners in need of insurance in flood risk areas.

Find out more about Flood Re [PDF].

Flooding usually affects whole communities not just individual properties. If your area is at risk, work together with other people in your community so you can prepare, act together and support each other. During widespread flooding it helps emergency services if communities are able to support the response and are prepared for flooding. 

  • our emergency planning team provide support to communities to help them be prepared for emergencies including guidance and templates on preparing a community emergency plan
  • the Environment Agency run a Flood Warden scheme which flood risk communities can volunteer to join
  • Communities are able to sign up to volunteer for the council’s Community Flood Signage Scheme. The aim of the scheme is to close flooded roads quickly to help stop vehicles from driving through and creating bow waves which can cause property flooding. For more information, please contact

An ordinary watercourse is any natural or artificial channel that water flows through, such as a river, culvert, brook, beck, or mill stream.

If you own land or property along an ordinary watercourse you have responsibilities that include: maintaining the bed and banks of the watercourse and allowing the flow of water to pass without obstruction and so help prevent flooding. 

If you want to carry out work that affects the flow of water or flood risk from an ordinary watercourse you need to get permission.

For more information download the Riparian Ownership Leaflet  - Watercourses on or next to your property [PDF]

Riperian Ownership Leaflet

For advice on owning a waterside property and your responsibilities, email the Flood Risk Management Team on

You can sign up for flood warnings from the Environment Agency's Floodline. This is a free service that provides flood warnings directly to you by phone, text or email – whichever you select. It can be used by households and businesses who are at risk of flooding.


The floodline service uses gauges at strategic locations in main rivers to identify any rivers rising past specific thresholds. Early flood warnings allow you to take appropriate actions and prepare for the possibility of flooding. 


For those with more than one property at risk of flooding e.g. businesses with more than one site, consider registering for the Targeted Flood Warning System. The service costs £4,700 a year, but is free for not-for-profit organisations.

Check local media and local weather forecasts as well as the Environment Agency's 5 day flood forecast for the latest situation and warnings in your area.

Register to receive our emailme flood bulletins. They’ll provide advice and information on how to be prepared, how we’re responding and the latest situation in Nottinghamshire

Find out how the community of Thurgarton prepares for and responds to flooding.

Councillor Neil Clarke MBE meets flood wardens in Thurgarton


Thurgarton flood wardens talk about their role


Thurgarton flood wardens talk to Councillor Neil Clarke MBE


Thurgarton flood wardens encourage others to take on the role in their community


Can we help?

For further information and advice on how you and your community can prepare for flooding, contact:

Emergency Planning:

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