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Flooding – will your business sink or swim?

The UK is just coming out of the other side of some of the most widespread snowfall ever seen. In many parts of the country, this melting snow may lead to flooding, leaving businesses leaping out of the frying pan and into the fire when it comes to disruption and lost revenue.

Unfortunately, extreme weather is becoming more commonplace, forcing the commercial sector to view flooding as a growing concern – one that needs to be better understood and mitigated against. Mark Griffiths, from leading flood resilience provider, Adler & Allan, explains the steps FMs need to take to help protect their clients from rising waters.

The last few years have seen extreme weather becoming more common place; from the floods of 2015/2016 to March 2018’s coldest ever spring day. Factors such as climate change and urbanisation are leaving increasing numbers of businesses open to disruption, downtime and environmental incidents.

Since 1988 the UK has been subject to at least one major flood every year, with the risk, severity and frequency on an upward trend, leaving more of us likely to suffer on a regular basis. At the moment, around 260,000-500,000 commercial properties are located in flood affected areas; as an example this includes 14 per cent of retails space. Whatever the sector, this number is set to rise.  Many businesses do not recover after a major flood event if they haven’t got planning in place.

Downtime costs
The ‘beast from the east’ combined with Storm Emma was forecasted to have cost the UK economy £1 billion a day. Storm Desmond, which was behind winter 2015/2016’s infamy, cost the country £5 billion; big figures that filter down to the bottom-line of nearly every business – from lost days due to staff being unable to get into work, to long-term damage to assets such as stock, equipment and machinery.

While some of this disruption is beyond the FM’s control, with a proper understanding of the likelihood of flooding and the implementation of appropriate flood plans, much can be done to limit damage and reduce business operational impact.

Keep one step ahead of the flood

1. Know your risk: If you haven’t been flooded yet, it doesn’t mean you won’t be in the future. Rising sea levels and the afore-mentioned extreme weather conditions mean that flood risk is a far reaching issue. A Flood Risk Assessment (FRA) will provide information on your chance of flooding now and in the future, including the levels that water is likely to rise.

In the short term, you can sign up to the Environment Agency’s flood alert service in order to be notified of impending adverse weather conditions. We have developed a Flood Risk Management Platform which draws on live and historic data to provide an accurate, immediate view on probability of flooding.

2. Defend against risk: Knowledge is power and once you understand the risk your business is facing the right steps can be taken to defend against flooding. Making a property more resilient to flooding can include: the installation of permanent flood defences and/or ensuring that local first response measures such as A&A soakbags and spill kits are on site.

3. Plan for the worst: All businesses, whether at risk of flooding or not, should have some sort of business continuity plan in place and this could fall to the FM team to implement. There are some simple first steps that could make a significant impact on reducing damage and downtime. Moving electronic equipment off the ground flood, for example, could mean that at least the office department of a business remains functional. In the early stages of a flood quick thinking and knowing exactly what the best course of action is will have a significant difference to long term disruption.

4. Protecting essential equipment: Planned and preventative maintenance should be a priority for any business. When it comes to flooding in particular, power generation is often a key issue, so ensuring back-up generators are able to work at all times is essential – ideally these must be located somewhere unlikely to fall foul of flooding; in practice we often find these located in the highest risk areas. Drains should be kept clear and for businesses that have separators installed keeping them clean and fully operational will allow water to flow off site, while preventing pollution.

5. Fast response and clean-up: Despite best-laid plans, sometimes disaster is unavoidable. It may be that your flood plan is enough to deal with the situation, but where matters escalate beyond your control, having experts on call is essential. If an FRA reveals your site has a significant flood risk, enlisting the support of your local flood responder should form part of any flood mitigation plans. They will have the expertise and equipment to stop flood waters, while providing clean-up and pollution prevention services, in order to get back to operations as quickly as possible, while avoiding environmental fines.

When it comes to flooding, it’s sink or swim – make sure you have the knowledge and support to ride the tide of this increasing issue.

Adler & Allan delivers 360° flood resilience services, in order to provide businesses with support, before, during and after a flood; including access to the latest innovations in flood data mapping and best in class flood mitigation measures. If flooding is unavoidable, thanks to its nationwide team, A&A can deliver 24/7 emergency response and clean-up, 365 days a year. For more information, visit: http://flood.adlerandallan.co.uk/


About Sarah OBeirne


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