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Emergency Management - Flooding

Flooding of small parts of the County is a common problem - and some say it will become more frequent as a result of global climate changes.


The Council's approach to providing emergency assistance during times of flooding is as follows:

  • The Council will provide engineering advice on ways residents can alleviate the risk of flooding to their properties if requested and issue general guidance to all properties in the area of their roles and responsibilities under the Land Drainage Act 1991. The Council will provide, if possible, during times of severe flooding, engineering advice on site to assist with the use of resources and control the situation where appropriate.
  • The Council will assist with the dissemination of Environment Agency flood warnings where appropriate.
  • Very serious flooding resulting in the need for evacuation of houses, provision of temporary accommodation and the like is covered by the Council's rest centre and flood plans.
  • Update and activate the Multi-agency High Risk Community Flood Plans.
  • Work with local communities to develop Community Emergency Plans to make them better prepared during an emergency such as a flooding event.

If you live near the coast, there is always a possibility that a combination of high tides and bad weather will threaten your property with flooding, even though engineers will have done as much as possible to reduce the risk of this happening.

However, even if you live inland, events over the past few winters have demonstrated that exceptional storms can cause flooding even on hill slopes, when the drainage system is simply overwhelmed by the amount of water it is expected to carry.

In addition, when the ground is saturated even small additional amounts of rainfall will find it difficult to drain away from gardens and enclosed spaces.

The Council, at times of emergency, will be endeavouring to protect the public at large and will not be able to assist a large number of individual homeowners who may find their properties threatened.

We use Twitter to give updates on flooding and severe weather, please follow us on Twitter @cornwallcouncil or use the link on this page to pick up any #tags being used.

Remember, you can call Floodline on 0345 988 1188 any time night or day for real-time flood warnings and advice, including registration to the Flood Warning Services.

The Environment Agency offers a flood warning system, you can register for the service online or by calling 0345 988 1188.

The Met Office also provide weather warnings for rain, ice, snow and wind. Cornwall Council receive these warnings.

Use the Environment Agency Flood Map to find the likelihood of flooding in your area (enter your postcode for the area concerned). You can also check current flood warnings in force from here and find more details on how flooding could affect your home insurance.

The Environment Agency monitor rainfall, river levels and sea conditions 24 hours a day and use this information to forecast the possibility of flooding. If flooding is forecast, warnings are issued.

When there is a risk of flooding the Environment Agency issues warnings through the media; they are broadcast on TV weather bulletins and on radio weather and travel reports. Make sure you know which is your local radio station.

Flood warnings are also displayed on ITV Teletext regional weather pages (page 154) and on BBC Ceefax (page 419).

Reduce Flood Water Getting into your Home

Ideally, cover doors, windows and airbricks with plywood, sandbags, metal sheeting or a 'bought in' product made for the job.

Gas, Electricity and Water

  • Turn off gas, electricity and water supplies at the mains. Find out where these controls are well in advance of any flood
  • Unplug all electrical items and store upstairs or as high up as possible
  • Put plugs into sinks and weigh them down with something heavy

Furniture and Appliances

  • Move as much furniture and electrical items as you can upstairs. Alternatively raise them up on bricks or blocks - this may be very helpful for large appliances such as fridge-freezers
  • Move furniture away from walls, as this helps when drying your property later
  • If you can, roll up carpets and rugs and put them upstairs
  • If there is no time to remove curtains, hang them up over the rail so they are kept above flood water
  • Leave internal doors open, or ideally, remove them and store them upstairs

Personal Items

You cannot replace sentimental items such as photos. Think about permanently moving these upstairs, so you do not forget to move them in the case of a flood.

Keep important personal documents in a sealed bag, and in a location safe from flood water. These should include passports, birth certificates, marriage certificates, contracts, title deeds, etc.

Outside the House

  • Move anything not fixed down into a safer location, e.g. dustbins, garden chemicals, car oil and similar
  • Move your car to higher ground to avoid damage
  • Weigh down manhole covers outside the house to prevent them being forced off and leaving a hazardous hole

If you wish to take flood precaution measures, these websites are full of more detailed information:

Flooding of properties may occur if one or more of the following events happen:

  • Rainfall fills rivers, streams and ditches beyond their flow capacity.
  • Floodwater overflows river banks and flood defences onto flood plains
  • Coastal storms can lead to the sea breaking through, or coming over the top of coastal flood defences
  • Blocked or overloaded drainage ditches, drains and sewers overflow across roads, gardens and into properties
  • Overloaded sewers can sometimes back flow into properties
  • Rain can be so heavy that run-off cascades down hills and slopes
  • Rain soaks into the ground, causing ground water levels to rise and flood

It is not possible to eliminate the risk of flooding altogether, but many practical steps can be taken to reduce the cost of flood damage repairs and speed up recovery times.

Flooding - useful contact numbers

Emergencies out of office hours - call 0300 1234 100