Businesses and flooding
Flooding can be very disruptive and costly for businesses, but you can take some simple steps to make yours better able to cope.
Flooding can have serious consequences for businesses: An Association of British Insurers study revealed that 80% of businesses do not recover from a major incident such as a flood. Floods can impact businesses through: loss of footfall and income; damage to property, paperwork and equipment; impact on staff and suppliers; and hampering of deliveries, among others.
Best practice ideas
Make sure your business:
- Knows its flood risk – find out here for both surface water and rivers.
- Has a trigger to be warned of a flood – the Environment Agency provides alerts for some areas here.
- Knows its suppliers’ flood risk.
- Has a flood emergency response plan – read some guidance on how to make one here.
- Has a flood warden and/or flood team – one person (or more) in charge of your business’ flood response both during and after a flood event.
- Does regular flood drills – like you do for fire.
- Holds flood training as part of new staff’s induction – so they know what to do.
- Has good housekeeping – it can be as simple as keeping important paper files and electronic equipment well above ground or backing up records that are stored off site.
- Has a maintenance schedule for your own drains, gullies etc.
- Has alternative premises for storage, if relevant.
- Reviews procedures regularly.
For more information on what businesses can do to protect themselves against flooding, visit the Buckinghamshire County Council website.
Local business tells how floodgate has given piece of mind
Cox the Saddler is a saddlery, riding wear and leather goods shop on Chesham’s High Street. The business is run by Sara Clarke and her brother Paul Jeffrey who have been at the helm for 20 years, although the business dates back to 1911.
During the time Sara and Paul have been running the business, the High Street has been flooded multiple times. Six years ago, their shop was flooded badly and Sara and Paul were forced to claim on their insurance to pay for the damage and repair. They think the flooding was caused by a flow restriction in the Vale Brook culvert causing water to back up out of the drains.
Thankfully, there was no damage to the shop’s products because they were in raised cabinets, but there was extensive damage to the historic wooden floor at the front of the shop. Records show that the building dates back to 1649 and that some of the shop’s old beams were salvaged centuries ago from broken-up ships’ timbers. There was also damage to carpet tiles elsewhere on the ground floor which caused a further problem. On removing the carpet tiles, asbestos was found underneath, which had to be removed too.
Although their insurer paid out without any issues, the flooding caused considerable disruption and financial loss to the business; they had to close for six weeks due to the drying out and repair period. It was after this that Sara and Paul decided to look into flood prevention measures.
Following some research online they invested in a flood gate, something they’d seen in other shops in the town. According to Sara, “Having the flood gate gives us piece of mind, not just at night when we’re not there, but we can install it quickly during the day if waters rise. It takes a while to get used to fitting it, but it’s not unsightly like sandbags, and is easily removed. It’s now just part of the store shut-down routine.”
Sara recommends that other businesses invest in suitable flood protection products, “Compared to the hassle, disruption and financial loss to your business that flooding causes, it’s a simple and cheap solution.”