Flood FAQs

Flooding risk and responsibilities

When is flooding likely?

Flooding is usually a consequence of a long period of rain or heavy downpours. It can be made worse by many variables including neglected culverts, saturated ground and blocked drainage systems. It’s hard to predict when flooding will happen because of these variables.

Whilst flooding events are difficult to predict, there are services available that can help alert you to when flooding is possible and help shore up your property’s defences should flooding actually occur.

Am I at risk from flooding?

One in six properties in Newark and Sherwood is at risk of flooding. Check your flood risk.

There is a watercourse on my land. What are my responsibilities?

An ordinary watercourse is any natural or artificial channel that water flows through, such as a river, including where a river flows through a culvert, brook, beck, or mill stream.

Find out your responsibilities if you have a watercourse on your land in this County Council leaflet. We have also created a waterside living in Newark and Sherwood (PDF File, 247kb) leaflet with more information.

If you want to carry out work that affects the flow of water or flood risk from an ordinary watercourse you need to get permission from the County Council.

How do I prepare for a flood?

Where can I find out the latest flood warnings and what do they mean?

Visit our flood warnings page to find out more about the flood warning system and how to sign up for alerts form the Environment Agency’s Floodline.

Check local media and local weather forecasts as well as the Environment Agency's 5 day flood forecast for the latest situation and any warnings in your area.

Register to receive the Nottinghamshire County Council email flood bulletins. They provide advice and information on how to be prepared, how we’re responding and the latest situation in Nottinghamshire.

What can I do to prepare for a flood?

It is impossible to remove all danger of flooding but you can take reasonable measures to reduce the damage caused to your property and minimise the effect it will have on you and your family, these include:

  • making a flood plan - the Environment Agency offers advice to help you make a plan of what you need to do and think about if flooding threatens your property
  • get advice on preparing for an emergency from the Nottinghamshire County Council emergency planning team also provides information on how to prepare for an emergency, including flooding

How can I protect my property from flooding?

If you’re a homeowner, it is your responsibility to protect your property from flooding. There are a range of practical actions that you can take to reduce the impact of flooding on your property, from adapting your home to installing flood defences.  

Sandbags are a short term and relatively cheap way to manage flooding but only if they are filled and placed correctly. However, they are relatively ineffective when compared to purpose-designed flood protection products. They are of no use if a property is already flooded. Instead, residents should concentrate their efforts on protecting family members and belongings.

Does the Council give out sandbags?

Residents are encouraged to make sure their property is protected as far as possible. When flooding is threatened, we may have limited supplies of sandbags that we can provide to vulnerable residents, who are unable to provide for their own. During an emergency flooding situation we try to distribute sandbags to people and properties most in need. Please call us on 01636 650000 and we will ask you some questions and assess the priority of your needs. We will always try to help if we can.

Where else can I get sandbags?

You can buy unfilled sandbags and a supply of sand from most DIY stores and builders merchants. You can also purchase filled sandbags and aqua sacs from selective suppliers. Read advice on the government website about using sandbags correctly.

What is an aqua sac?

An aqua-sac bag is a sturdy sack containing a superabsorbent polymer (SAP). After soaking in water for five to eight minutes the bag self-inflates to over 30 times its original size. After inflation, the aqua-sac can be used in the construction of flood defences in a similar way to using traditional sandbags.

When deflated aqua-sacs are lighter and easier to handle than sandbags.

What insurance do I need?

Find out more about flood insurance and flooding financial support for properties affected by flooding.

How can we prepare as a community?

Flooding usually affects whole communities not just individual properties. If your area is at risk, work together with other people in your community to prepare, act together and support each other. During widespread flooding it helps emergency services if communities are prepared for flooding and able to support the response.

Your community can be better prepared by:

  • speaking to the county council's emergency planning team, who provide support to communities to help them be prepared for emergencies, including guidance and templates on preparing a community emergency plan
  • signing up to the Flood Warden scheme and the County Council’s Community Flood Signage Scheme - the aim of the scheme is to close flooded roads quickly to help stop vehicles from driving through and creating bow waves which can cause property flooding.
  • for more information and advice on how you and your community can prepare for flooding, contact us or contact the Nottinghamshire County Council emergency planning team on emergency.planning@nottscc.gov.uk

What else can I do to prepare for a flood?

Get more details on preparing for a flood on the government’s website. You can also read the Environment Agency leaflet: what to do before, during and after a flood [PDF] for practical advice.

What should I do during a flood?

If life is in danger during flooding you should dial 999. Here are some other things you can do to stay safe:

  • ensure family and pets are safe and away from flood water
  • act on your personal flood plan [PDF]
  • gather essentials and move valuable items above expected water levels
  • check on vulnerable neighbours or relatives
  • follow any instructions given by the emergency services - you may be asked to evacuate your property at short notice, so ensure you have an emergency kit of essential items ready
  • prepare your property with any flood protection measures and turn off water, gas and electricity before water enters your property
  • ensure important documents are safe, including your home insurance details
  • avoid driving or walking through flood water, there may be hidden dangers (see more below about roads during floods)
  • move vehicles to higher ground
  • flood water is likely to be contaminated, wash your hands and follow good hygiene principles

What should I put in my emergency kit?

Emergency home kit

  • list of emergency contact numbers - this should be a paper copy, in case your mobile phone loses power
  • battery-operated torch and spare batteries, or a wind-up torch
  • battery-operated radio and spare batteries, or a wind-up radio
  • mobile phone
  • any essential medication and a first aid kit
  • bottled water and ready-to-eat food that won’t go off
  • copies of important documents, such as insurance policies and birth certificates - keep these in a waterproof bag
  • pencil, paper, penknife and whistle.
  • spare keys to your home and car
  • spare glasses or contact lenses
  • baby and pet supplies if needed

Emergency kit on the move

  • check the weather forecast and pack suitable clothes
  • ready-to-eat food, a warm drink in a flask and bottled water
  • mobile phone and charger
  • any essential medication
  • spare glasses or contact lenses
  • cash and credit cards
  • list of emergency contact numbers - this should be a paper copy, in case your mobile phone loses power
  • baby and pet supplies if needed

How do I stay informed with the latest information?

Call the Environment Agency Floodline on 0345 988 1188. The Floodline provides information on the flood warnings issued for your area as well as other flood advice.

Listen to local media - the latest flood / weather forecasts and school closure information will be provided via local radio and TV.

Follow us on social media - during a flood we keep our website and Facebook and Twitter accounts updated with the latest news and advice.

Is there anything else I can do during a flood?

Find more advice on what to do during different types of flood on the government website or download the County Council’s flooding factsheet. [PDF]

Roads during floods

Should I travel during flooding?

Nottinghamshire Police and Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service urge people not to drive through floodwater. You risk getting stuck and often road-side homes are flooded due to vehicles pushing water into people's properties.

The advice is to always follow flood warning signs and do not take risks by driving through floodwater. Pedestrian should not to enter flood water in case of hidden hazards such as lifted manhole covers.

How do I report a flooded road?

You can report flooded roads to Nottinghamshire County Council who are the highways authority for the district. If you think lives may be in danger you should call 999.

How do I report a vehicle that’s been abandoned due to flooding?

If the vehicle is causing an obstruction contact the Police by calling 101, however they may already be aware of the situation

How should I drive differently during flooding?

Motorists should follow the advice on the Nottinghamshire County Council page about driving during flooding.

Remember you could face a hefty fine if the police believe you were driving without reasonable consideration for other road users.

Is there anything I can do to prepare for flooding?

It’s a good idea to prepare an emergency car kit and keep it in your vehicle in case you get stuck in floods or other severe weather.

Things to include:

  • ice scraper and de-icer
  • snow shovel
  • a map in case you need to find your way around diversions
  • blanket and warm clothes
  • first aid kit
  • battery-operated torch and spare batteries, or a wind-up torch
  • battery-operated radio and spare batteries, or a wind-up radio
  • jump leads

What to do after a flood

What are the first things I need to do after a flood?

The very first thing to do is to take care as there may be hidden dangers in the flood water and it could be contaminated.

Next you should contact your insurance company and follow their advice. It’s likely they will send a loss adjuster to look at your property. They will confirm what repairs and replacements are needed and covered by your policy, and may arrange a skip for the disposal of damaged items. If you rent your property, contact your landlord and contents insurer. Find out more about insurance and flooding as well as additional sources of financial support.

I can't return my home what can I do?

Try to stay with friends or family until the risk is over.

Contact your insurer, as they might be able to arrange accommodation and contact us by calling 01636 650000 as we may be able to help with opening an emergency shelter.

I am back in my home. What do I do first?

Before you start any cleaning it’s important for flood investigations and insurance purposes that you make a note of the damage to your property. You should:

  • mark on the wall the height the flood water reached in each room
  • photograph or video the flood water and damage
  • make a list of the damage to your property and belongings
  • keep a note of all correspondence with insurance companies and any other organisations that are assisting you

I have no water/gas/electricity what should I do?

Your utilities may have been switched off for safety reasons. Do not switch on any utilities until you have checked with an expert that is safe to do so. You should contact a qualified electrician / gas engineer to check that it is safe to turn supplies back on. Don’t touch sources of electricity when you are stood in flood water. Once it has been checked by an engineer, turn on your central heating to aid drying. If supplies are not connected contact: 

  • Severn Trent Water by calling 0800 783 4444
  • gas emergency services by calling 0800 111 999
  • by calling 105 for electric

Where can I get a water displacement pump?

You need to remove all dirty water and silt from the property as much as possible, including out of the space under downstairs floorboards if you have these. This may require pumping out. Contact your home insurance if you need assistance in pumping flood water from your property. You can hire pumps from local hire centres. The Fire Service will deal with a situation that is life threatening.

How do I clean my property?

Firstly, remember that flood water is likely to be contaminated, always wear waterproof gloves and clothing. Ordinary household products can be used to clean your property but check with your insurance company as they may hire a company to do this for you.

You should remove all soft furnishings and fittings that are damaged beyond repair.Wash down all hard surfaces with hot soapy water several times until visually clean. Use a domestic disinfectant, following manufacturers directions as to concentrations, to wash over all hard surfaces after cleaning.

Food preparation surfaces and storage cupboards, refrigerators etc should be washed down with food-safe disinfectants such as Milton or Dettol. Allow to dry thoroughly - this will also help to destroy any germs left behind. Heating and good ventilation will assist the drying process.

Bedding and other soft or fabric articles including children's toys should be laundered on a hot wash (60°C and above) which will destroy any germs. Other soft furnishings that have been contaminated and cannot be put in a washing machine will have to be professionally cleaned. If this is not possible they may have to be disposed of.

Don't allow children to play in floodwater areas and wash children's hands frequently (always before meals). Wash floodwater-contaminated toys with hot water and disinfectant before allowing them to be used again.

As your property continues to dry out, vacuum any loose material and dust on a regular basis.

What should I do with bulky items and carpets destroyed by floods?

If you have any flood damaged domestic bulky items such as furniture or white goods, please check with your insurance company before disposing of them as it may affect your claim.

You can take domestic items to local household recycling centres.

If you have no means of transporting items to a household waste site, please check with your insurance company to see if they can help, as costs of removal may be possible to be added to your claim. Find out about our bulky waste collection service.

I’m feeling overwhelmed? Can I get support?

A flood that has affected your or your community can be traumatic. Do not overdo it when cleaning up, and remember that tiredness, difficulty sleeping and anxiety are normal in these circumstances.

To help support you, your family and friends in the aftermath of a flood, consider the following:

  • we’ll help you and your community recover after a flood, information and support services established in response to the flooding will be advertised locally
  • you may be eligible for flooding grants/support schemes
  • join a community meeting/group to share your experiences with those who understand what you’re going through
  • if you’re concerned about your own or a family members mental health, or have any other health issues, make an appointment with your GP
  • if you’re finding it difficult to cope and want to talk with someone the Samaritans are available 24 hours a day on 08457 90 90 90

I own a food business. What should I do?

If your food business has been affected by flooding, there may be a serious and imminent risk to health. All food premises affected by flooding must contact us

What should I do with sandbags after a flood?

Wherever possible please store full bags that have not come into contact with flood water to use again if you need them in the future. Often more than one flooding incident can occur in quick succession. We cannot re-issue sandbags to the same property over and over again.

The white plastic bags are durable for a period of a year or more if they are kept dry and in a shady place.

Please remember wet sandbags are very heavy, try to get someone to help you lift them. Any disabled people, the elderly or people with medical conditions who cannot lift or move the bags should contact us and we can arrange help.

If you are unable to store the bags full, then please empty the bags and store the pile of sand in your garden or yard and keep the bags so that they can be re-filled if necessary in the future.

If you do not wish to store them sand can be dug into the garden and once empty the bags can be placed in the wheelie bin and the sand dug into the garden if you have one. Please do not place full sandbags or the sand in your green wheelie bin.

Do not allow children to play with the sand, or place it in sand pits. The sand is not suitable for this purpose, and it may harm your children

What should I do with aqua-sacs after a flood?

Aqua-sacs are non-hazardous waste suitable for disposal in an approved solid waste landfill. Therefore, unused (dry) and used bags can be sent to landfill. Another possibility for disposal of limited numbers of bags is by 'greening', whereby bags are buried under a tree during planting to provide a water reservoir.

If greening is impractical, bags may be cut open to remove the SAP, which can be dug into soil to improve moisture retention.

My home or business has been flooded. Is there any financial support available?

Find out more about the financial support available after flooding.

For further advice about what to do in the aftermath of a flood, visit:

The gov.uk How To Recover After A Flood page.

The National Flood Forum's Recovery page.