The Met Office is warning Londoners to prepare for the risk of flooding as winter approaches, following recent extreme weather.
People are encouraged to plan ahead by checking their flood risk online and signing up for flood warnings.
It follows a heatwave and flooding in the capital this summer, with temperatures above 40°C recorded.
More than 1,500 homes and two hospitals were flooded after heavy rains in the capital in July.
The London Climate Change Partnership says London is particularly prone to surface water and sewage flooding following heavy rains, due to the large number of “impervious surfaces” such as roads and pavements, and Victorian drainage systems which are not equipped to cope with increased water flows. .
During the extreme weather, sewage flowed through manhole covers and toilets in people’s homes and flooded the streets of Woodford, Walthamstow and Battersea.
Whipps Cross and Newham hospitals have asked patients to stay away after their emergency departments were hit by flooding.
“Some have lost everything”
Flash flooding in London was also an issue in 2021.
Danny Briottet’s home in Kilburn, north-west London, flooded during heavy rain in July 2021 and is still being refurbished by builders due to the extent of the damage.
He said floodwaters broke through a manhole cover inside his house and he was unable to reach emergency services as they were dealing with major incidents in London at the time.
“We had water running from the front and the back, water coming up from the manhole, and it got to my knee well and stayed there all afternoon,” said he declared.
“Our six-year-old was very scared at the time; everything was dark and in ruins.”
Mr. Briottet and his family had to stay in temporary accommodation for months while his house dried up and insurers processed their claim and organized repairs.
All wooden floors, kitchen, baseboards and wiring had to be replaced.
Mr Briottet said they were lucky to have most of their valuables upstairs, unlike neighbors who either had no insurance or were unable to move their belongings rapidly.
“It was difficult for some of the older people who just had basement apartments and lost everything – heirlooms, photos, medals. It was terrifying for them,” Mr Briottet said.
He added that there was little support for those affected and to his knowledge no additional measures have been implemented in the neighborhood since the floods.
“Whatever happened that day, if we had that kind of rain again, it would happen again,” he said.
Mr Briottet said the causes of the July 2021 flash floods were still under investigation – local water management issues were mentioned as a possible factor.
“Don’t Ignore the Danger”
Now the Environment Agency is launching Flood Action Week to encourage people living in flood risk areas to protect their homes and belongings, especially as analysis of the agency found that nearly two-thirds of households at risk of flooding don’t believe it will happen to them. .
Caroline Douglass, executive director of flooding at the Environment Agency, said: “Climate change is happening now. We are seeing more extreme weather – this year alone with three named storms in a week, record high temperatures and a declared drought in large parts of the country.
“Our recent investment program has better protected 314,000 homes from flooding and we are investing millions to keep communities safe, but we cannot stop all flooding.
“The message is clear – households risk ignoring the flood hazard at their peril.”
Environment Minister Rebecca Pow said: “We are committed to continuing our record £5.2 billion investment in flood and coastal defenses between 2021 and 2027 to ensure that more communities be even better prepared for future floods.”