Flooding can leave its victims suffering from serious mental health problems such as post traumatic stress disorder, according to the Environment Agency. 

And one victim has bravely spoken out to talk about how vital it is that people should be prepared for the possibility of flooding. 

The Environment Agency has revealed that 5.2 million homes and businesses in England are at risk of flooding and the average cost of flood damage to a home is £30,000 … but the devastating consequences can go beyond buildings and possessions. 

The Agency says those who experience flooding in their own home are also at high risk of suffering from negative mental health impacts which can last for years after they have been flooded. 

The most recent Public Health England research shows that over a third of people who were flooded in 2014 suffered with depression, anxiety or PTSD and nearly a quarter of people were still experiencing these negative mental health impacts two years later.

In December 2015 Storm Desmond struck north west England and caused extensive flooding, leaving 45,000 homes without power. A year later 700 families had still not moved back into their homes and 200 businesses were not fully operational. Cumbria County Council said the recovery had cost approximately £500m.

Thousands of properties in Cumbria were flooded including a church in Kendal where local resident Jonny Gios still works.

He said: “Being flooded turned our world upside down for a whole year. The community came together in an amazing way during the recovery process but the stress and worry in the months that followed was devastating. It was difficult to unpack the trauma and took several months of counselling – suffering physical and emotional symptoms of post-traumatic stress.

“I can’t underline how important it is to be prepared and to know what to do when flooding hits. Simple actions can make a huge difference and could save you months of trying to gather your life and home back together.”

The Environment Agency has just launched its Flood Action Campaign, partnering with the Red Cross, to encourage people to learn how to prepare, act and survive in a flood to reduce the impacts of damage and to join a new national network of Community Reserve Volunteers to help their communities if disaster strikes. 

Caroline Douglass, Director of Incident Management and Resilience at the Environment Agency said: “The terrible impacts of flooding can last long after the flood waters have receded. But simple actions can lessen the damage to your home, protect your well-being and help you recover more quickly.

“Our flood defences protect thousands of homes around the country but we can never entirely eliminate the risk of flooding which is why it’s crucial to know how to protect yourself when it hits.”

Simon Lewis, Head of Emergency Response at the British Red Cross, added: “We respond to an emergency every four hours in the UK from major fires to devastating floods. Flooding can have a catastrophic impact on homes and communities, causing untold damage to the things and the people we treasure most. That’s why it’s vital we all know what to do and how to help to lessen the impact and help communities rebuild and recover faster.” 

The British Red Cross wants to create a national network of 10,000 community reserve volunteers who can be called upon to help in a crisis. More than 5,000 people have signed up to the scheme so far.

There are many anti-flooding devices on the market which people can check out on the National Flood Forum website’s directory called Blue Pages http://bluepages.org.uk/

The National Flood Forum is a charity which helps and supports people at risk of flooding.

Just one product is FloodSax sandless sandbags and 2.5 million of them have now been sold worldwide.