42,500 properties are potentially at risk of flooding in Norfolk. 

Over 5 million people in England and Wales live and work in properties that are at risk of flooding from rivers or the sea.  There are a few things you can do in advance to prepare for flooding and minimise the impact.

Types of flooding

Flooding can come from several sources:

  • Coastal – a combination of high tides and stormy conditions. If low atmospheric pressure coincides with a high tide, a tidal surge may happen which can cause serious flooding.
  • Rivers – occurs when a river cannot cope with the amount of water draining into it from the surrounding land. This can happen, for example, when heavy rain falls on an already waterlogged area
  • Surface water – this occurs when heavy rainfall overwhelms the drainage capacity of the local rea. It is very difficult to predict where this type of flooding will happen, compared to river or coastal flooding.
  • Groundwater – Occurs when water levels in the ground rise above surface levels.
  • Sewers – when sewers are overwhelmed by heavy rainfall, or when they become blocked, the likelihood of flooding depends on the capacity of the local drainage system.

What are the consequences?

  • Damage to homes, possessions, businesses and infrastructure
  • Loss of life or injury, including psychological impacts
  • Evacuation and/or longer-term shelter of people
  • Displaced businesses
  • Disruption to utilities, transport and services
  • Environmental damage, pollution or contamination (particularly by sewage)
  • Fatalities and casualties, both physically and mentally

When has it happened?

  • 2020


    1. High volumes of rainfall, record high groundwater levels, surface water run-off and flooding on the River Burn impacted Burnham Market and the Creakes resulting in a loss of facilities and prolonged leakage of sewerage.
    2. Widespread flooding recorded in Norfolk with the Breckland District being most impacted.  100% of the predicted rainfall for December fell within a 24-hour period, which delivered record breaking levels of water recorded on the rivers Yare, Waveney, Bure and Ant.
    3. Heavy rainfall on 23rd December seriously affected residents and businesses along the A140 in Long Stratton with many people having to leave their homes over the Christmas period’
  • 2017


    • 6,500 residents in Great Yarmouth and Walcott asked to evacuate due to predicted tidal surge, although weather conditions changed a few hours before predicted high tide, which reduced the risk.


  • 2016


    • Residents in Acle were evacuated due to severe and sudden surface water flooding.
    • Severe thunderstorms and heavy rain caused problems at several polling stations; the biggest impacts felt in Breckland District recording flooding at over 250 properties.
  • 2013


    • The largest tidal surge since 1953 with lots of damage to properties and defences.


Get prepared

There is a danger of flooding, monitor weather reports and check with Floodline.

Immediate action is required, take measures to protect yourself and your property.

Flooding is imminent and could post a risk to life and cause significant disruption to essential services.  Cooperate with the emergency services.

  • Check with the Environment Agency to find out if your home or business is at risk of flooding: https://www.gov.uk/check-flood-risk
  • Register to receive alerts of potential river or coastal flooding on Flood Warning Service via the Gov.uk website: https://www.gov.uk/sign-up-for-flood-warnings
  • Get to know the flood and weather warnings and what they mean
  • Don’t wait until flooding looks likely to buy or install flood protection equipment. The Blue Pages is a directory of property flood products & services: flood doors, temporary flood barriers and bin bags filled with soil are a good start!
  • A very comprehensive homeowners document with ideas and case studies can be found on the Know Your Flood Risk website: https://www.knowyourfloodrisk.co.uk/sites/default/files/FloodGuide_ForHomeowners.pdf
  • If you or a family member consider yourself to be vulnerable, contact your utility companies and ask to register with their priority services
  • Prepare a household emergency plan and grab-bag

Click on the get prepared button to access our Household Emergency Plan template and grab-bag checklist!

What to do during a flood

If you are in danger, call 999.

Using the Flood Warning Service (FWS), the Environment Agency will provide flood alerts and warnings for coastal and river flooding, but only if you are signed up to the system.  There is no warning service available for surface water flooding but watching local weather reports if your property is susceptible to this type of flooding is very important. The Met Office provides weather warnings.

You can report flooding and any flood related issues in Norfolk by phoning the Norfolk flooding helpline on 0344 800 8013.

If you’ve received a warning from FWS or the emergency services, you must act on it:

  • Be prepared to act quickly and get yourself to safety
  • Implement your flood protection measures
  • Protect what you can, take items upstairs or to a safe place in your property
  • Check in with your neighbours if safe to do so
  • If the emergency services ask you to evacuate, remain calm and act quickly. Collect your grab bag and if it is safe to do so, turn off your utilities.
  • If you can’t stay with family or friends, the local authority will have set up a rest centre, the emergency services will advise you of where this is.

Remember flood water is dangerous, six inches of fast-flowing water can knock an adult over; avoid walking or driving through it.

Recovering from flooding

  • Look after yourself. Everyone reacts differently to an event like a flood, it is normal to experience a few stress reactions that may continue for some weeks after.  Most people who have encountered a traumatic event find their symptoms fade over time; however, if you find your symptoms do not improve and continue to concern you, there are organisations in Norfolk available to help you.  You can download the NHS coping with stress following a major incident by clicking on the following link: pdf (publishing.service.gov.uk)
  • Notify your insurance company. If your property has been internally flooded, you should report it to the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA): Report a flood – Norfolk County Council
  • If your property has been flooded from sewers notify your insurance company and Anglian Water who will attend your property to investigate the cause and work with you to decide the best way to clean things up. You can find more information: Sewage flooding (anglianwater.co.uk)
  • It is important to arrange for a qualified person to check your utilities are safe to use; you will need to arrange for a gas engineer to safely turn your gas back on.
  • Whilst is may be tempting to do a complete clean-up, do not throw away damaged items. If making a claim your home insurance provider will ask for a full description of what has happened as well as evidence in the form of a photo or video. Take advice from specialists before starting repairs on your property, remember that flood water may contain harmful substances which could make you unwell.  Your home insurance company will probably want to assess what you have lost so keep your contents unless you are told by them you can dispose of them.
  • Always use reputable building contractors and beware of bogus trade people calling door to door. Consider using a Norfolk Trusted Trader: visit norfolk.gov.uk/trustedtrader

Floodwater can be contaminated; the contamination remains after the floodwater has gone and can be hazardous unless simple procedures are followed.  If you have used sandbags to protect your property they will also be contaminated and will need to be disposed of properly.

If floodwater is still in your property:

  • Wear suitable protection such as waterproof outerwear, gloves, wellington boots and a face mask.
  • You can get water out of your property using a pump and generator. Only pump out water when flood levels outside your property start to be lower than the inside.
  • Shovel mud away from both sides of a wall.
  • If you are drying your property naturally, keeps doors and windows open as much as possible. But if using dehumidifiers close external doors and windows.

Helpful contacts and links

Our household emergency plan template has a useful contacts list for you to complete and adapt to your own needs, you can download it here: Get prepared – Norfolk Resilience Forum (norfolkprepared.gov.uk).  Here are some flooding contacts and links to get you started:

Contact numbers

Organisation Contact
Emergency services 999
Police (non-emergencies) 101
NHS (non-emergencies) 111
Environment Agency Floodline 0345 988 1188
Norfolk County Council 0344 800 8020
Norfolk flooding helpline 0344 800 8013
Report a power cut 105
Report a gas leak 0800 111 999