We have seen some rain this year haven’t we? Where next?

A number of my mailshots at the start of the summer referred to flooding and yet week after week, month after month, there have been more and more examples of serious flooding. The news from Spain over the weekend showing the devastation and the unfortunate deaths of a number of people is an reminder of how dangerous and destructive flooding can be.

Closer to home the River Ouse once again flooded parts of the city of York. I remember a colleague of mine delivering a presentation several years ago titled ‘Two Inches From Disaster’. He described how, quite literally, his organisation avoided a flooding incident in York that would have severely compromised their UK operations had the water level risen a couple more inches and breached the flood defences. A close call.

The impact of flooding is enormous. Long after the event businesses and organisations will be suffering the effects, making repairs, waiting to get back to normal operations etc. which all takes up valuable time, resources and money that would otherwise be directed to making profits or delivering services. Additionally, if a location has flooded once there’s a chance it’s going to flood again. Several times I have seen news clips where a distraught homeowner or businessman is standing knee deep in their recently refurbished property comparing the water level to the previous occasion. It must be heart breaking and in the case of Spain another crippling aspect to their already fragile economic situation.

It doesn’t take much to realise that insurance in the future will be hard, if not impossible to obtain and the value of the property assets will have also been dramatically reduced. The impacts therefore last for a very long time.

Flood defences seem to take forever to be agreed, funded and implemented so those impacted seem to be very much at the mercy of the weather and any preparations they can make themselves or the effectiveness of the response from the local authorities and emergency services. The only piece of good news I saw from Spain over the weekend was that the response from the local authorities had been very good.

The news coverage about Spain and York will very quickly cease so most people will think everything’s been cleared up and is back to normal. Spare a thought for the many people for whom these are going to be long drawn out incidents and ones they hope will not be repeated too soon.

Finally, consider your own organisation. What risks do you face from flooding? Are you prepared? How would you respond? Would you survive?

Don’t underestimate the threat and certainly don’t underestimate the impact.