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Somerset facing increased autumn flood risk after wet summer

By This is Somerset  |  Posted: November 02, 2012

  • Flooded fields near Stathe on the Somerset Levels

  • The Willowbrook Garden Centre near Taunton was flooded in September

  • Croscombe was flooded after heavy summer rainfall

  • A flooded road near Creech St Michael during September's storms

  • Croscombe and Shepton Mallet suffered the worst of the summer flooding

  • Flash flooding at Heathfield Road, Nailsea

  • Environment Agency staff working on flood prevention. View a short video from the Agency at the bottom of this article

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Saturated ground after a summer of heavy rainfall leaves Somerset facing an increased risk of flooding this winter, forecasters have warned.

The wettest April to June on record was followed by further heavy rain in July, September and October, leaving water levels particularly high in some areas in the county.

The Environment Agency and the Met Office say the South West is at particular risk of flooding from rivers in November and December, due to "exceptionally high groundwater levels" and "saturated ground".

They also warn that, due to the saturated ground conditions, flooding could strike "with relatively small amounts of rain".

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An Environment Agency spokesman said flooding from surface water – where the amount of rainfall overwhelms the drainage network – is also more likely as the ground is already saturated.

It is also predicted that the risk of coastal flooding will increase, especially during periods of high spring tides from November 12 to 18 and December 12-18.

Environment Agency head of flood incident management, Paul Mustow, said: "This year our flood defences have protected over 119,000 properties, but we cannot prevent flooding entirely.

"With one in six homes at risk of flooding, the most important step people can take in protecting themselves from the worst impacts is to find out if they are at risk, and sign up to the Environment Agency’s free flood warnings service.

"As winter approaches we’d encourage everyone to take this one step to help protect themselves from what is recognised as the country’s number one natural hazard."

Sarah Jackson, the Met Office's chief adviser to the Government, added: "We are heading into the winter period which is traditionally the wetter period of the year in the UK.

"Because the ground is so wet, if we do have any prolonged heavy rainfall in any part of the country, there is going to be heightened risk of flooding.

"We recommend that everyone keeps up-to-date with the latest forecasts and warnings in periods of wet weather to be prepared."

The Environment Agency is now taking steps to make residents aware of the digital flood prevention services it offers.

Flood forecasting team leader Tony Harris said: “It is important prepare your property, and also vital to look after yourself, your relatives and your pets if there is a flood.

“The digital information is a great way to reach people who may not know how to keep themselves or their property as well prepared for a flood as possible.

“The downloadable personal flood plan only takes a few minutes to fill out, but could make a huge difference in the way you are prepared for a flood.”

Households and businesses can check their flood risk and sign up to receive free flood warnings at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/flood.

Watch the video below to find out how the Environment Agency prepares for flooding...

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