Press release

Don’t be caught out by flash flooding - be prepared

Know the risks to keep yourself safe


North Yorkshire County Council and the Environment Agency are urging communities across the county to be aware of the dangers of flash flooding, and to take steps to prepare.

Flash flooding tends to happen when heavy rainfall runs off land and quickly swells rivers and streams. It can also occur where drainage systems are overwhelmed by intense rainfall. The risk of such flooding tends to be highest in the summer, when higher temperatures can trigger intense thunderstorms. Last August, intense storms caused flash flooding in a number of communities across Yorkshire, including Garforth, South Milford, Pontefract and Castleford, while summer 2012 saw devastating flooding affect communities in Upper Calderdale.

Kim Tan, Flood Resilience Advisor for the Environment Agency said:

With summer thunderstorms it can be hard to accurately predict where exactly they will develop and how intense the rain will be. As a result, it can be very difficult to issue timely flood warnings – so it’s essential householders and communities develop flood action plans in advance.

Steps you can take to prepare for flash flooding include:

  • Move important items upstairs/ above ground level now as a precaution, as there will be little time to do such things during a flash flood
  • Look out for forecasts of thunderstorms or heavy rain, and be alert to fast rising water levels with churning, dark water or a build up of debris in rivers and streams
  • If flash flooding occurs, above all stay safe - never walk or drive through floodwater as it only takes 15cms of fast-flowing water to knock an adult over and 60cms to sweep away a 4x4 car or small lorry
  • If you can’t get away in time, then move to higher ground or move upstairs if you are in a building with two or more storeys;
  • Always co-operate with the emergency services and follow their advice once they arrive

Robin Derry, Senior Emergency Planning officer for North Yorkshire County Council, said:

While we cannot prevent the rain or prevent flooding entirely, we can help communities become more resilient.

Knowing your flood risk is the first step to protecting your family and property. Once you know the risks, you can put measures in place to stay safe.

Both the Environment Agency and the Council are currently working in communities across North Yorkshire to raise both awareness and resilience. With their support, Hawnby, Rievaulx Abbey and South Milford Parish Councils have developed Community Emergency Plans which detail how local communities will respond to emergencies including flooding.

If you would like to become actively involved to get your community prepared first speak to your parish/town council to check work is not already underway. Otherwise please contact the Environment Agency on 03708 506 506 for advice, or visit

Published 3 July 2015