Londoners face ‘real risk’ of drowning in next flash flood if it happens at night

London now faces a ‘significant risk’ of deaths from people drowning in flash floods as the chances of one occurring continue to grow due to climate change, according to a report. This is according to a report this month from the London Councils taskforce which warns the lack of any specific plan to deal with possible flooding makes the risk especially high.

The report analysed the citywide disruption in summer 2021 when torrential rain across several weeks in July pushed the city to breaking point with over a month of average rainfall coming within an hour on multiple occasions. The disruption also saw Tube stations, hospitals and other key businesses flooded and closed and over 1000 homes affected by the floods, reports the Observer.

With severe rainfall and unpredictable weather becoming more common due to climate change there are now fears and real possibilities that chaos on this level from flooding could become commonplace without action taken.

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The DLR station at Pudding Mill Lane was overrun by water in July

These findings were reported to London Councils, the cross-party body representing the 32 Borough and City of London councils across the city. The findings showed that the areas at gravest risk to flooding lie in the North and East of the city but that residents in these areas do not seem to “understand the level of risk that they now face and how to respond.”

This point was made by Bob Ward, deputy chair of the London Climate Change Partnership. He said to the Observer: “There is now a real risk of people drowning, particularly in basement flats if a major flash flood occurred in the middle of the night. The problem is particularly worrying because we have no idea how many people live in basement properties in London.”

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The report also targeted drainage infrastructure, saying: “London has an increasing area of impermeable surfacing and still essentially relies on a Victorian drainage system that was not designed to cope with the city’s current and predicted future populations.”

It also highlighted that no organisation is currently solely responsible for responding to flooding in London, a lack of funding in risk management, and a lack of understanding of the real risks flooding poses. It says if the city is going to cope with future serious flooding major improvements are necessary to all of these areas.

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