The risks from flooding can be overlooked, particularly if you have not had any issues in the past. There are some areas in East Herts which are liable to flooding and for those people living in these areas, there are several things you can do to be prepared for a flood.

Is my property at risk?

You can find out if your property is at risk of flooding by visiting gov.uk website . You can also follow the Environment Agency on Twitter for updates @EnvAgencySE

Severe weather warnings

The Met Office provides a wide range of forecasts and warnings to help you make informed decisions about your day to day activities. They also warn the public and emergency responders of severe or hazardous weather which has the potential to cause danger to life or widespread disruption through our National Severe Weather Warning Service. You can find a map of national weather warning on the Met Office website.

You can also call Floodline on 0345 988 1188 or sign up for flood warnings on the gov.uk website for up-to-date flooding information

Flood warnings

Members of the public and businesses can Sign up for flood warnings via the Gov.UK website

Protecting your property

Riverside properties

If you own land or property alongside a river or other watercourse, including a culvert, you have rights and responsibilities as a riverside property owner. Your responsibilities are explained in a useful guide available from the GOV website - Owning a watercourse - your responsibilities.


The responsibility to protect a property is that of the owner and/or occupant. East Herts Council does not supply sandbags. If you need sandbags you need to go to a builder's merchant or large DIY store to obtain material for sandbags. For information on the use of sandbags is available from the GOV website - Sandbags: how to use them properly for flood protection.

If you are at risk of being flooded, you might want to consider keeping some empty sandbags and sand or earth ready for use at the first sign of trouble.

Planning to Stay Safe in a Flood

There are a number of things you can do before a flood to help keep you safe.

  • Prepare and keep a list of all your important contacts to hand or save them on your mobile phone
  • Prepare a flood kit of essential items and keep it handy. It can include copies of important documents, a torch, a battery-powered or wind-up radio, blankets and warm clothing, waterproofs, rubber gloves and a first aid kit including all essential medication.
  • Think about what items you can move now and what you would want to move to safety during a flood such as pets, cars, furniture, and electrical equipment
  • Find out how to turn off water, gas and electricity supplies.
  • Consider buying flood protection products such as flood boards and airbrick covers to help reduce flood water getting into your property.

Tips for During a Flood

During a flood it is important that you remain calm and safe.

Tune into your local radio station for the latest information.

  • Fill clean containers with clean drinking water.
  • Grab your flood kit, blankets, torch, first aid kit, medication and food.
  • Move important documents, personal items, valuables, and lightweight belongings upstairs or to high shelves.
  • Switch off water, gas and electricity at mains when water is about to enter your home. Do not touch sources of electricity when standing in water.
  • Put plugs in sinks and baths. Weigh them down with a pillowcase or plastic bag filled with soil.
  • If you do not have non-return valves fitted, plug water inlet pipes with towels or cloths.
  • Don't try to walk or drive through floodwater. Only six inches of fast flowing water can knock you over. Two feet of water will float your car. If you must go through flood water remember to go very slowly. The bow wave you create could cause flood water to go into someone's home. Manhole covers can be lifted in a flood and there may be other hazards you can't see.
  • Never try to swim in fast flowing water - you may get swept away or be struck by an object in the water.
  • Don't walk on riverbanks or cross river bridges - they may collapse in extreme situations.
  • Avoid contact with floodwater - it may be contaminated with sewage.

Information on health issues with flooding is available from the GOV website - Flooding: health guidance and advice.

Reporting a flood

  • If you notice a flood developing it is important that you report it to the correct Authority.
  • If you're in danger from a flood or your home is at risk of immediate flooding, call 999. Otherwise you can report a flood to Hertfordshire County Council via their website.
  • If there is flooding of the highway, it should be reported to Hertfordshire County Council via their website - Report a fault on the road or pavement.

Cleaning up after a flood

There are several practical steps you can take after a flood to get your home back to normal as quickly as possible.

Do ...

  • Call your Insurance Company to tell them what has happened and follow their advice.
  • Contact the gas, electricity and water companies; you will need to have your supplies checked before you turn them back on.
  • Open your doors, windows and air vents to ventilate your property. Remember to make sure that your property is secure when you leave it.
  • Wash taps and run them for a few minutes before use. It is unlikely that mains tap water will be contaminated but do check with the water company if you are at all concerned. If you are in any doubt boil drinking/cooking water before consumption.
  • Watch out for any broken glass or nails while you are clearing up.

Don't ...

  • Turn on any electrical items back on. Make sure they have dried out and checked first.

Health Advice

Don't be complacent about hygiene. Keep following the health advice. 

Health risks are considered to be low nevertheless make sure you follow these hygiene precautions:

  • Wear rubber gloves when clearing up floodwater damage.
  • Any cuts should be covered with waterproof dressings.
  • Wash away surface debris, silt and mud with hot water and detergent.
  • Wipe over surfaces with a weak solution of bleach (5 mls to 1 ltr water). Alternatively, use an antibacterial disinfectant and follow the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Remember to wash your hands before eating or smoking.
  • If you feel unwell in the next few days, especially with a stomach upset, see your doctor and tell him or her you have been clearing up flood water.

Visit the government’s website for further advice and frequently asked health questions.

Private water supply - Wells

There is a danger that if you have a private water supply the water could become contaminated after a flood. The Council will arrange to test your supply if you are at all concerned. Please ring 01279 655261 and ask for Environmental Health. In the meantime you are recommended to use bottled water or to boil water before consumption.

Drying out your home - Advice to owners

In most historic buildings and even in modern properties, it is strongly advised that drying out of the structure should take place SLOWLY by the use of dehumidifiers assisted by low levels of heating if weather makes this necessary, and by the introduction of natural ventilation.

Rapid drying by applied extremes of heat will probably lead to problems of timber movement and cause further damage to buildings with historic fabric, especially when timber frames are present. This can lead to rot and other problems of twisting and warping which may in themselves need to be rectified in the future.

Your insurance company will be able to advise you further with this.

Beware of bogus callers

There have been reports of people calling at flood damaged houses saying they represent the gas and electricity companies. All genuine service crews carry an ID card. Always ask to see it.

Most builders are legitimate and will provide a decent service. However, Trading Standards Officers give the following advice about Cowboy Builders:

  • If approached by builders, treat with extreme caution.
  • Ask for a quotation in writing.
  • Get a quotation from other builders.
  • Make sure you have a contact name and address of the builder.
  • Don't pay before any work is done.
  • Clear any arrangements you make for your building work with your insurers.

Trading Standards Officers advise not to deal with anyone who knocks at your door selling products or services including insurance but, if they do, they say:

  • Never enter into any contract without reading the small print.
  • Tell the seller you want plenty of time to read the information before deciding whether to buy the product or service.
  • Shop around and look at other companies and businesses to get the best deal.

Removal of large household goods

We offer a Bulky Rubbish Collection to collect goods such as fridges, sideboards, wardrobes etc.

Alternatively, you can take any unwanted items to one of our Household Waste & Recycling Centres (Tip).

Housing/accommodation needs

You should contact your insurance company in the first instance, as you may be covered for temporary accommodation while work is being carried out. Tenants of Registered Social Landlords will need to contact their own Landlords for help and advice.

If you need to contact a Homelessness Officer phone East Herts Council on 01279 655261 and ask for the Housing Options team.

Local taxation relief on flood damaged dwellings and businesses

If you are a victim of flooding and have had to move from your home, you may be entitled to an exemption from your Council tax until your home is repaired and reoccupied. To make a claim please contact The Revenue Service of East Herts Council on 01279 655261.

If your business is closed because of flood damage it will be exempted from Business Rates for a period of time depending on the nature of your business. Contact the Revenue Service of East Herts Council on 01279 655261. If the damage is likely to take more than three months to repair, your premises may be taken out of Rating until the repairs are complete. If this is likely to be the case you should also contact the Valuation Officer on 01727 774700.

Further information

Further information on flooding risks in Hertfordshire and how Hertfordshire County Council manages them can be found on their website.