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Emergency flooding

Current flood warnings and alerts

Flood alerts and warnings are issued by the Environment Agency and can also be viewed on its website here 

Additional flood warning resources are also available on the Met Office website and GOV.UK website

You can also call the Environment Agency on: 0345 988 1188.  

Emergency Assistance Centres

An Assistance Centre offers shelter, information and help for those affected in an emergency. Information on the availability of Emergency Assistance Centres will be included here as and when flood warnings are issued. 

What to do if your property is being flooded

If your property is being flooded and there is threat to life then call the emergency services by dialling 999 and ask for Bedfordshire Fire & Rescue Service (BFRS).

Flood water can rise quickly, always focus on the safety of you and your family before your property and be prepared to act quickly. In the event of an emergency involving severe flooding it is recommended that you follow the advice from emergency services, especially if you are asked to evacuate your home.

In these situations please consider the following actions:

Severe flooding of habitable buildings and property - call Beds Fire & Rescue Service by dialling 999

  • The Fire Service will respond to the call as an emergency and may be able to assist with temporary protection measures at the property (e.g. deploying aqua-sacs), they may be able to assist with pumping water from properties.

Localised flooding (surface water flooding) not life threatening/severe - call the EA on 0345 988 1188 (option 4)

  • This usually happens where drainage systems are unable to cope with heavy spells of rainfall and should be reported to the EA. The EA and the Borough Council will review and assess the issue reported and consider safety implications, e.g. where water is causing an obstruction to the highway.

General advice on flooding - call the Environment Agency on 0345 988 1188 (option 2)

  • For general information on how to prepare for flooding, signing up to flood warning system, roles, responsibilities etc.

The role of Borough Council during an emergency is to:

  • support the lead role of the emergency services
  • support the local and wider community
  • mitigate the effects of an emergency
  • lead on the recovery (after the emergency)

Bedford Borough Council emergency number: 01234 267422

How to prepare for a flood

  • Find out if you are at risk of flooding by contacting the Floodline on 0345 988 1188 for advice on current conditions and or visit the Gov.uk website 
  • Put together an overnight bag in case you have to be evacuated
  • Consider proactively protecting your property by protecting doorways and low level air vents with sandbags or plastic bags filled with sand or earth.
  • Check on your neighbours, especially those who are elderly or infirm and inform the Emergency Services or Flood Warden of their location

What to do during a flood

  • Keep calm, if you are in danger dial 999 and/or attract attention of people nearby
  • Turn off water, gas and electricity supplies at the first sign of flooding in your property
  • If trapped, remain near a window where you can be seen
  • If the Emergency Services are on the scene, follow their instructions
  • Be prepared, you may need to be evacuated
  • Do not enter flood waters as depth and current can be deceiving. Just 6 inches (15mm) of flood water can knock an adult off their feet. The flood waters may also be contaminated with sewage and there may be hidden dangers
  • Move your family, pets an valuables upstairs or to higher ground if threatened by floods

What to do after a flood 

  • Contact your insurer
  • Do not switch on gas or electricity until it is checked by a professional/and or utility company
  • Do not use food that has been in contact with flood water
  • Always wear waterproof gloves when handling soiled items, and always wash your hands if you touch anything soiled by the flood water
  • Thoroughly clean and disinfect all items soiled by flood water
  • Assume flood water contains sewage

Flood risk areas

Visit the Environment Agency's website to see whether you live in an area at risk of flooding. If you are at risk and would like to receive early warning of floods, you can sign up to a free Floodline Warning Direct service operated by the Environment Agency by either calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188 or signing up online.

Weather reports, updates and travel disruption

Visit the Met Office for your local weather forecast.

Check out our Winter Maintenance Updates pages for details of travel disruption due to weather conditions.

Flood protection and sandbags in flooding

Sandbags are not the most effective form of protective measures when it comes to property level flood protection and other flood defence measures, such as 'aqua-sacs' and other products, may be provided to assist in extreme cases. 

However where circumstances dictate, and the Borough Council's Flood Risk Team assess the risk to property flooding as being high with a threat to life/serious damage, then aqua-sacs/sandbags will be deployed as necessary.

The video below shows use of aqua-sacs during flood conditions and the benefits of this product when compared to the use of traditional sand bags https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BpidZ_h0gZI

The protection of your property is a matter for you and ultimately it is your decision. We would suggest, however, that you consider other flood defence products that have been proven to be more efficient and effective than sandbags. More information on other flood defences can be found on the Blue Pages.

Sandbags do have a use in certain circumstances, for example retaining the structural integrity of walls, or diverting flood waters to areas of safety. In these circumstances it may be useful to deploy sandbags based on the risks presented at the time and the Flood Risk Team will assist in these circumstances. Other agencies such as the Fire Service or Military would also advise in such situations.

During a flood incident, aqua-sacs would be used across the area to mitigate the effect of flooding. The distribution and management of aqua-sacs would be coordinated by the Local Authority and Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service.

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