Flood Recovery Advice and Information

Flood Recovery Advice and Information

Health and Safety
Cleaning up
Waste and Refuse
Financial and other support
Useful information
Useful contacts

Your Health and Safety
In an emergency dial 999 and ask for appropriate service.

Health and Safety
The first point of contact for all health issues should be your GP. You can get advice from NHS Direct. Tel: 111 or visit www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk

Public Health England has advice on flooding and contact with any remaining flood water

Take sensible general hygiene precautions when in contact with any remaining floodwater. Any cuts or wounds should be covered and protected.

Mental health
The effects of flooding can be shocking and you may feel overwhelmed. It’s normal to be anxious and you may continue to feel like this for weeks or even months. A number of organisations can provide helpful support:

  • Mindline – 01823 276892 Line open: Friday, Saturday, Sunday 8pm-12am
  • Samaritans – Taunton 01823 288 998 (24hr); Yeovil 01935 476455
  • Somerset Carers Network – 01749 836 633

You can also download our leaflets with advice and guidance about looking after yourself and others after flooding and supporting children and young people after flooding.

Immunisations guidance
No immunisations are needed or required when working to clean up after the floodwater. Routine immunisations from childhood and seasonal flu immunisations for at risk groups are, as always, encouraged. For more information, visit www.nhs.uk/conditions/vaccinations/pages/vaccination-schedule-age-checklist.aspx

Drinking water
There has been no disruption to the public water supply in the flooded areas, but pipe work could be damaged or contaminated. Wessex Water is monitoring things and will follow up where there has been damage to pipe work.

If no water runs from your kitchen tap, contact your local water company urgently. For the majority of customers this will be Wessex Water. Call 0845 600 4 600, quoting “Somerset Levels Flooding”.

You should drink only boiled or bottled water until you have:

  • Cleaned all taps using water (preferably hot) and detergent, then disinfected using an antibacterial surface cleaner (available free from Help HQ in Burrowbridge or the Donations Centre).
  • Flushed the kitchen tap at a moderate rate for 15 minutes.
  • Flushed all other taps and showers for 2 minutes.

If your property has been flooded, you are on a meter and need to flush your taps you will automatically receive the Wessex Water flushing allowance. You should only do prolonged flushing when the flooded water has gone from your home and you are sure water can drain away in your drainage system as normal.

Contact Wessex Water (0845 6004600) if you:

  • are concerned about the taste of your water (after running it for a further 15 minutes)
  • think pipe work has been damaged
  • are concerned your supply may be contaminated by oil.

If your kitchen tap has been immersed in flood water, please contact your district council.

Carbon Monoxide
Never use outdoor petrol or diesel generators, or fuel-driven pumps indoors as the exhaust fumes may contain carbon monoxide.
Carbon monoxide can be fatal in a confined space such as a house – you can’t see or smell it, but it is extremely dangerous. Even low-levels of carbon monoxide can cause lasting damage to your health. The symptoms are similar to the ‘flu’ and can include nausea, dizziness, tiredness, headaches, stomach pains and chest pains. If you experience these symptoms, but feel better when you are outside or away from the appliance, you could be suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning.

Gas and electric
Do not to turn on gas or electrics until they have been checked by a qualified technician.

If you smell gas or are worried about gas safety, you should:

  • Call 0800 111 999 at any time, day or night every day of the year. The call is free.
  • Turn off the gas at the meter, unless it’s in a cellar or basement – in which case, do not enter. If there is a smell of gas in the cellar or basement, evacuate the building.
  • Extinguish all naked flames – do not smoke or strike matches. Turn off all gas appliances until they are checked by the engineer.
  • Do not operate any electrical appliances or turn any switches on or off. Open doors and windows to ventilate the property and keep people away from the area.

The Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents have advice on how to stay safe before, during and after flooding http://www.rospa.com/leisuresafety/watersafety/flooding-advice.aspx?utm_source=communicator&utm_medium=email&utm_content=flood_hub_article&utm_campaign=safety matters+07

Air Pollution
Some people may be tempted to burn rubbish rather than dispose of it through recycling or waste collection. If the fires are noxious from the burning of toxic materials e.g. rubber or foam you should contact your District Council and ask to speak to Environmental Health.

It doesn’t present any health problems to most people, but prolonged exposure to mould can aggravate asthma and eye/nose irritation. If you have extensive mould in your house and your health might be affected, speak to your GP.

Heating, dehumidifiers and good ventilation can help dry out your home. Small areas of mould can be removed easily with solutions from in hardware stores. If mould persists or is extensive you may need to contact a specialist cleaner who is aware of and follows current guidance.

In an emergency RSCPA should be contacted to provide support 0300 1234 999 (24-hr)

The risk of disease to pets and livestock from floodwater is low. There has been no evidence of an increased disease risk to livestock or domestic animals occurring following floods in recent years. You can minimise any risk by:

  • Stopping your pets from going into any areas affected by sewage spill.
  • Cleaning-up any obvious contamination and take hygiene precautions.
  • Cleaning, disinfecting and rinsing surfaces – e.g. the path from front door to road.
  • Seek the advice of your vet as soon as possible if pets show any signs of ill health.

For Livestock issues contact Devon and Somerset Trading Standards Animal Welfare Team at Chelston, Wellington TA21 9HP.
Tel. or visit www.devon.gov.uk/tradingstandards

Advice about provision of safe water supplies during flooding can be found from:

For advice on the movement of animals (livestock, domestic and/or exotic pets) call Avon and Somerset Police on 101.

Cleaning up

Practical tips

  • Wear rubber boots, gloves and masks to clean up. Wash clothes used for cleaning separately.
  • Clean all hard surfaces (e.g. walls, floors) with hot water and detergent.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after each clean-up session. Keep open cuts or wounds clean and covered with plasters.
  • Heating, dehumidifiers and good ventilation can help dry out your home.
  • Wash soft items (e.g. clothing, bedding, soft toys) on a 60◦c wash with detergent.
  • Put rubbish in bins or in rubbish bags.


  • Call your insurance company as soon as possible and follow their advice.
  • Take photographs before you start cleaning. Ask your insurer before discarding items that can’t be cleaned (e.g. mattresses and carpets).
  • Check with your insurance company before removing flood-damaged items from your home in case they need to be retained or recorded.
  • Your insurance should arrange or pay for removal of all flood-damaged items (e.g. with skips); do not dispose of them in your kerbside refuse bin.

Dead animals:
If you find small dead animals – rabbit, rat, mouse etc – on your property, please double bag them in black sacks and add this to your refuse bin. For larger animals – fox, badger etc – please contact your local district council.

Drains and ditches – highways clearance
Somerset Highways has a long term programme for drain clearance (Gully Sucking) in rural areas the return period is usually around 18 months. Following this winter’s flooding a coordinated programme is being developed to ensure the cleaning of roads and the clearing of gullys.

Oil Tanks:
The Environment Agency can recover and make safe oil tanks affected by flooding. In some instances, it has emptied the oil tanks and left them at the property. However, if the oil tank has been damaged in any way, where possible the EA have removed the tank and taken it for storage nearby.
The tanks that have been removed have been labelled with the property name and the amount of oil recovered has been recorded. The tanks will remain in storage until the EA hears from you.
If you would like to speak to someone in the Bridgwater incident room about oil tanks, please call the EA on 0800 80 70 60 and leave your name, address and contact telephone number.

Before you refill your oil tank the EA strongly recommends that you have the tank and system pressure checked by an OFTEC oil tank engineer. For more information please go to www.oftec.org/
Please continue checking your fuel tanks to make sure levels are not dropping significantly or suddenly. It’s important to check metal components of tanks and pipe work for corrosion and leaks if they are accessible. If you have any concerns or detect a leak, please contact the EA straight away on the number above

Sand bags
Any clean sandbags can be stored for future use. If you have sandbags that have been in floodwater, Public Health advice is that you should dispose of them.
Wear gloves when handling sandbags, and wash thoroughly afterwards. Residents are asked to move sandbags to a safe point outside their property for pick-up. Do not add sand or sandbags to your kerbside refuse.
If you have an individual skip for flood-damaged items, sandbags can be added to that. They can also be taken to your nearest recycling centre (contact staff on arrival), or – in Moorland only – by official volunteers to the temporary clear-up centre.
Sandbags on public land, alongside watercourses or put into position by the Environment Agency should not be moved.

Somerset County Council’s Highways Team, in conjunction with the Environment Agency, is removing sand bags from the roads and footways.

Waste and refuse

Waste collections
All waste collections in flood-affected areas are back to usual on their usual days.
Call your local district council if:

  • your collection is missed
  • your property inaccessible
  • you need to replace containers lost or damaged in the floods
  • you need a clinical or assisted collection.

Waste and recycling advice
Please don’t tip flood waste and debris it back into the rivers. It can block watercourses and cause flooding. There are different options for getting rid of it through authorised routes such as Somerset Waste Partnership or a private contractor (if you own a business).

Businesses must check with insurers or use commercial services to remove waste.

Disposing of flood-damaged items:
If you have been flooded, contact your insurance company and follow their advice. They should arrange or pay for removal of all flood-damaged items (such as with skips); do not dispose of items in your kerbside refuse bin.
Residents who need help removing larger flood-damaged items from their homes should first check with their insurance company in case items need to be retained or recorded. If disposal of items is approved by their insurer, they should make arrangements through them to have the items removed.

Waste removal services
Whether funded by yourself or your insurance company, take care to avoid rogue clear-up and removal services that will fly-tip your waste. You have a legal duty of care over your waste, even after it leaves your home. If someone offers to take away waste, ask to see their “waste carrier licence”, and check where your waste will go. You can call 03708 506 506 to find if a business has a licence, or look them up online by searching for “public registers” atwww.environment-agency.gov.uk.
If you use a removal service, record the name, phone and vehicle registration number.

If usual recycling collections are taking place, waste or flood-damaged food from fridges, freezers and cupboards – with packaging removed – can be added to your food waste recycling container for the next collection. If the food waste recycling container is full, recycling collections have not restarted but usual or emergency refuse collections are taking place, food (with or without packaging) may be placed in black sacks – ideally double bagged – and put in your refuse bin, or added to the “cannot be recycled” skip at a recycling centre.

Financial and other support

Council Tax and Business Rates Relief (including Business Hardship scheme):
District councils can give you help and advice around:

  • Temporarily homelessness, housing benefits, and business rates relief.
  • Council Tax reduction for the time your property is uninhabited because of flooding.
  • Environmental Health services, such as dealing with septic tanks.

Flood Relief Fund
Emergency Relief Grants to individual property owners and those affected by flooding are available from the Somerset Community Foundation.
A grant of £250 is available to alleviate the immediate financial hardship for people with flooded homes or who have been evacuated due to flooding. Grants of £150 – £1,000 may also be awarded to households directly and indirectly affected by the floods.
For more information please visit www.somersetcf.org.uk Tel: 01749 344949

Flood Grants
Central Government have made available up to £5,000 for flood protection / flood resilience work to be carried out on properties that have flooded between 1 Dec 2013 and 31 March 2014.
The final details of how the grants will be administered is still being worked out, but will be publicised to communities with affected properties.

Business Grants and Support
The Government has made available funds for grants to businesses. There is also relief from Business Rates. As part of the Recovery Plan there is a Working Group looking at just business issues. For more details contact your District Council or the County Council.

You can find details of support for Somerset businesses in our register.

Some of the major utility companies have pledged to remove standard daily tariff charges for flood-affected residents who have left their properties. Please contact your utilities provider to find out if they are offering this service.

HMRC has launched a new telephone help line for anyone affected by the recent floods. The help line will enable anyone affected to get fast, practical help and advice on a wide range of tax problems they may be facing. For more information on the help available please visit www.gov.uk/government/news/tax-helpline-launched-to-support-people-affected-by-flooding or call HMRC on 0800 904 7900, Monday to Friday, 8am-8pm; Saturday and Sunday, 8am to 4pm, excluding bank holidays.

Farming and livestock-related support and advice
If you are an NFU member you can contact the NFU CallFirst team on 0870 845 8458. Lots of useful information is available from the NFU via: www.nfuonline.com/science-environment/flooding/severe-weather-and-farming/ and www.nfuonline.com/news/latest-news/flooding-how-you-can-help/

DEFRA Farming Recovery Fund (FRF)
The DEFRA Farming Recovery Fund is designed to help affected farm businesses in England restore land to agricultural production. Grants of between £500 and £5,000 are available to any farm holding directly affected by the recent flood events (since 1st December 2013). For more information please visit :www.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/284236/farming-recovery-fund-guidance.pdf. Applications must be submitted on or before 9th May 2014.

Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme (FFIS)
Round 3 of Farming and Forestry Improvement Scheme (FFIS) was launched on 4th February 2014 and provides grants of up to £35,000 for specific items connected with 5 themes aimed at improving farm productivity. DEFRA have made changes to provide further assistance to farmers in flood-affected areas. Please read the guidance here: http://rdpenetwork.defra.gov.uk/funding-sources/farm-and-forestry-improvement-scheme The round will close on Friday 4th April 2014.

FLAG and SCC – Help HQ
At Burrowbridge School FLAG and SCC are working together to make sure actions on the ground are coordinated. Someone from the County Council acts as the link with response agencies. Their phone number is 01823 698300
The school is open Monday to Saturday, 9am-5pm, offering support including clean-up equipment.
Advisors from the Taunton Citizens Advice Bureau available on Monday and Friday from 10am to 3pm and on Wednesdays from 1pm to 6pm.
Taunton Deane Borough Council officers will be there on Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 10am–4pm.
You can use a washing machine and tumble dryer free of charge, on a first come first served basis. Washing powder is available
Internet access is also available free of charge on a first come first served basis.

A second site is being set up in Moorland outside the village hall.

Residents’ support at Westfield Church, West Street, Bridgwater
The church is open every day 8:30am to 3pm for pastoral support, free refreshments, donation collections, free Internet, showers and laundry services for flood-affected residents.

Donations and collections
A centre for donations (both drop-off and collection) for affected residents is available at the old Somerfield distribution centre, Huntworth Business Park, Junction 24 Bridgwater TA6 6PS. For more information, including centre opening times, please visit: https://somersetnewsroom.com/2014/02/17/new-centre-for-flooding-donations/ Please note the centre is not currently accepting furniture donations.
Anyone wishing to pick up supplies will need to bring ID so their address can be confirmed.

You can make a non-financial offer of support (labour, transport, accommodation etc) online Somerset County Council’s website.
Offers of help and assistance have been logged. You can now view the offers made online. If an offer is relevant to your needs you can email Somerset County Council and ask to be put in contact with the person making the offer.
The offers web form, offers log, and contact details are available here: https://somersetnewsroom.com/floodinghelp/

Donations of money/financial support
Offers of financial support are being directed to the Somerset Community Foundation Flood Relief fund. Please visit http://www.somersetcf.org.uk/ or call 01749 344949.

Mail re-direction:
If you have been evacuated due to the floods you can get free mail re-direction through Royal Mail or have your post dropped to a local sorting office if you cannot get in/out of your local area to have post delivered as normal. Please call Royal Mail on 08457 740740 to set-up a postal arrangement.

Police and crime prevention
In an emergency please call 999. For general support and information from the Police please call 101.

For the latest information from Avon and Somerset Police please visit: www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/newsroom/

All the agencies and volunteers working in the flood affected area should have ID so please ask to see it if you have any concerns.

Police continue to have a significant presence in the flood-affected area, and you are encouraged to take the usual precautions: register your property on www.immobilise.com, don’t leave drying items outside your house when you are not there, always lock doors and windows when leaving your property, don’t leave packaging for new goods outside your home, keep valuable items like copper piping and tools somewhere out of site.

There are often traders who appear after a flood incident to try and benefit from other peoples misfortunes. We work closely with colleagues in Trading Standards and will be able to provide leaflets and advice on these issues and put people in contact with the appropriate staff for more advice.

Useful information

Community updates
Community Updates with latest news which may be of use to people in the flood affected area, are distributed to village agents and other contacts. They can also be found on the Somerset County Council newsroom http://somersetnewsroom.com

Twitter: For the very latest news, please follow Somerset County Council on Twitter @Somersetcouncil

Internet: Free Internet is available for flood affected residents at Burrowbridge Help HQ.

Highways and road closures
Most if not all roads that have been affected by flooding are now open. Please see the Community Update for any change.

Canalside Flood Assistance Centre Meetings
The Canalside Flood Assistance Centre Meetings run 6-8pm on Wednesdays. All the relevant agencies involved in flood recovery attend including Somerset County Council, Sedgemoor District Council, South Somerset District Council, Taunton Deane Borough Council and the Environment Agency.
The meetings are a chance for people who have been affected by the flooding to meet and talk, and access a variety of agencies who can offer advice and assistance regarding the aftermath of flooding. Issues covered include:

  • insurance
  • grants and financial support
  • animal welfare
  • transport
  • emotional support.

Sedgemoor District Council is in a portakabin outside Moorland Village Hall, 10am-4pm, seven days a week to answer queries, provide help or signpost in the right direction.

Langport Information Centre, Bow Street. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 9am to 2pm, for help with South Somerset District Council services. Phone 01458 253527.

Environment Agency
For the latest information on Flood Warnings visit: www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/31618.aspx
To view the latest news releases visit: www.environment-agency.gov.uk/news/118741.aspx
To contact the local incident room call: 0800 80 70 60.
The Environment Agency has teams out to recover & make safe oil tanks affected by flooding. Please see the ‘Oil tanks’ section below for more information.

The Environment
If you have concerns about the Environment, the lead agency is the Environment Agency.
General enquiries 03708 506 506 (Monday – Friday 8am to 6pm) www.environment-agency.gov.uk/research/policy/32905.aspx

On the Levels and Moors there are wildlife sanctuaries rung by organisations such as the RSPB. 01392 432691, Email: www.rspb.org.uk

You can also contact Natural England (South West): Tel: 0300 060 2570, email enquiries@naturalengland.org.uk

Useful contacts numbers

All flooding enquiries
The starting point for people seeking information about flood related issues is Somerset County Council’s Somerset Direct number 0845 345 9166, staffed Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, and on Saturdays from 9am to 4pm.

Somerset Direct will provide the information itself where possible and if necessary will sign-post callers to the most appropriate agency or contact number.

Local Volunteer Support
Visit the Flooding on the Levels Action Group (FLAGSomerset) on Facebook or contact via the Burrowbridge information centre on 01823 698300.

Police – 101 for general calls and 999 for emergency calls.
E-mail: floodinginsomerset@avonandsomerset.police.uk or use form on the Police website.

Environment Agency Floodline – 0345 988 1188

For independent advice on all aspects of flooding, including insurance issues, phone the National Flood Forum Helpline on (01299) 403055 or visit www.floodforum.org.uk

Local Councils:

  • Somerset County Council:
    Roads and Transport 0845 345 9155
    Adult Social Care 0845 345 9133
    General Enquiries 0845 345 9166

Western Power Distribution: 0800 365 900, website: www.westernpower.co.uk
EDF Energy: 0800 056 3264 (8am – 6pm)
Emergency – National Grid: 0800 111 999.
General enquiries – National Grid: 0845 835 1111, website: www.nationalgrid.com/uk
National Farmers Union
Email: south.west@nfu.org.uk, website www.nfuonline.co.uk

Health and wellbeing
24 hour health care advice – NHS Direct 111
Mindline – 01823 276892 Line open: Friday, Saturday, Sunday 8pm-12am
Samaritans – Taunton 01823 288 998 (24hr); Yeovil 01935 476455
Somerset Carers Network – 01749 836 633