How to deal with a flood

8. Working with your community

Community-level engagement is vital for many reasons.

Local communities experience flooding first-hand. Because of this they often have a good understanding of where the most affected areas are.

While individuals have a responsibility to protect themselves, it is more efficient for them to group together.

Given the limited manpower and financial resources available to local authorities, communities can play an essential role in:

  • helping to target action where it is most needed
  • setting up early warning systems and monitoring
  • implementing some solutions such as watercourse maintenance

Setting up a community flood plan

Information is available on the website if you are interested in helping to flood-proof your community.

Protect yourself from future flooding
Community flood plan template

Individual residents and businesses can also create flood plans.

Step 1: Make some contacts

Contact your local authority or parish council to get support for your proposed community flood warden scheme and learn about what community plans (if any) are in place already. Information may also be available from the Environment Agency.

Step 2: Advertise for Flood Wardens

Organise and advertise a meeting asking for volunteer flood wardens. The initial meeting should discuss what you want to achieve and how you are going to do it. It should also involve electing a Chairperson/Secretary who will take minutes and distribute them to the members.

Step 3: Finalise ideas

Formalise your aims and objectives by developing a Community Flood Plan. You can get help from your:

  • local Environment Agency flood incident management team
  • parish council
  • local authority

The flood plan should contain all the information that you will need before, during, and after a flooding event. A plan includes sections such as: actions for responding organisations; flood warden roles; local volunteer registers; flood risk areas; communication arrangements; useful contacts and others.

Step 4: Promotion

Once your community flood plan is ready, promote it and put into action the planned pre-flood activities. You could produce a local leaflet to highlight who you are what you do, and any planned flood awareness/ activity days you have planned.

Step 5: Community engagement

You may also want to give advice and information to neighbours and the wider community. Encourage local residents to find out if they can get free flood warnings from the Environment Agency. If they can, sign up to Floodline Warnings Direct. Residents can also:

  • produce their own flood kit - for example, a kit containing some bottled water, torch, batteries, warm clothes, and so on
  • provide advice on how to minimise the effects of flooding
  • identify vulnerable residents who may need help
  • check watercourses for blockages for example

Step 6: Assist the community in a flood

During a flood event, a community flood warden will assist the community. This may include, advising local residents what to do, helping the most vulnerable, or assisting at reception centres.

You should never enter floodwater and put yourself at risk!

Step 7: After a flood liaise with the community

Flood wardens can liaise between the local residents and the Environment Agency/ local authority.

They can also let people know what to do during clear up, and record the local flood extent and depth. This helps in the prediction of further floods.

Step 8: Review

Review your community flood plan annually and continue to raise awareness in flood risk areas.


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Last updated: 12 March 2019

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