Red Alert warning issued as Storm Babet set to bring torrential rain and dangerous winds

18/10/2023

THE MET office has issued a red weather warning for rain across parts of Scotland, with the worst affected areas around Dundee, Angus, Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire. The warning runs from 18:00 on Thursday (19th) until noon on Friday (20th). These regions could see up to 200mm of rain and winds of 60mph.

The UK’s leading rural insurer NFU Mutual is urging people to be on their guard as Storm Babet hits. With the storm hitting so soon after torrential rain brought flooding to the central areas of Scotland, NFU Mutual is urging home and business owners to take measures to protect their property – and themselves – while they can.

Jon Bird, Property Claims Manager at NFU Mutual, said:

“Coming so soon after the recent high rainfall, we’re concerned that Storm Babet could lead to localised flooding in areas across the UK. Coupled with potential storm force winds, there is a risk that property will be damaged.

“NFU Mutual has activated its storm plan, with loss adjusters and repair networks stood up for an influx of claims and our Agents in communities across the UK ready to assist customers.

“But there are measures people can take now to reduce the risk of damage. If you have flood defences, get them ready now, and if you think your property is at risk of flooding you should move family, pets and belongings away from lower floors.

“Prepare a storm or flood pack which includes food, essentials like medication or baby food, and useful things like a torch, phone charger, warm clothes and the details of your insurer and utility companies.

“If it’s safe and you’re able to do so, now is a good time to fortify your home against storm force winds. Tie down or store loose garden furniture, trim overhanging tree branches, and make sure windows and doors can be secured.

“As the leading rural insurer, we know that isolated rural properties are often at the most risk of storm damage, so we urge those in the countryside to be especially vigilant.”

Storm resilience

NFU Mutual has provided a handy guide for property owners on how they can secure their property before a storm or flood.

In addition to preparing for the storm, property owners who suffer damage should think about how they can make their property more resilient to heavy rain and high winds in the future.

Regularly pruning trees, keeping outbuildings, sheds and greenhouses secure, maintaining tiles on your roof and having somewhere to put – or means to secure – garden furniture can all reduce the risk of damage from high winds.

Similarly, there are repairs that can be made after flooding which make your property more flood resilient in the future. Measures such as raising electrical flooring, tiling instead of carpeting and using waterproof paint all cost the same or little more than like for like repairs, but can save a lot of money in the event of a future flood.

Larger resilience measures such as fitting non-return valves, flood doors or tanking or pump systems will cost more, but since 2017 NFU Mutual has helped customers with these larger flood resilient repairs. As part of the scheme, customers who suffer flood damage to their buildings above £10,000 receive a contribution from NFU Mutual to implement repairs which will protect the property from future flooding.

Jon concluded:

“Unfortunately, we expect flooding to become more common as extreme weather becomes more common, and with the average cost of a home flood coming in at over £25,000, it is definitely worth fortifying your home against flooding if you do happen to be caught up in it this time. Many other insurers also now offer flood resilient repairs under the Government-backed Build Back Better scheme, so ask your loss adjuster or insurer about not just restoring your property, but fortifying it against future floods.”

NFU Mutual’s storm resilience guide

  • Make sure all doors and windows can be securely closed.
  • Prepare for power cuts: Have torches and batteries to hand and make sure any generators are ready to use if required. If you are using candles, make sure you use them safely and extinguish when leaving the room, and make sure nothing hangs over the candles.
  • Inspect your property and make repairs to things like loose fence panels or gates.
  • Make sure gutters are not leaking and are clear of leaves and other debris.
  • Have a space to put loose outdoor furniture like garden chairs and trampolines. If you do not have an indoor space in which to put them, ensure you have a means of tying down or otherwise securing the furniture.
  • Safely check that tiles, slates and roofing sheets are in place, securing any that are not.
  • Inspect trees on your property, removing loose or overhanging branches which may cause damage to your or others’ property in a storm.
  • Repair or unblock any faulty drains.
  • If you have a garage, clear a space for your vehicle in the event of a storm. If you do not have a garage, plan where you can park vehicle during a storm – this should be away from any walls, fences or branches which could fall and damage the vehicle.
  • Protect and lag water pipes in vulnerable areas and know where the water supply is so that you can turn it off in the event of burst pipes.
  • Stay alert for Met Office weather warnings in your area.
  • Have your insurer’s emergency helpline number available.

Additional advice for business owners

  • In addition to the above, business owners can:
  • Ensure you have emergency contact details for employees to maintain contact during an extreme weather event.
  • If you have company vehicles, make sure these are parked away from walls, fences or branches which could damage the vehicles.
  • Make sure outdoor signage or displays can be secured or brought inside.
  • Ensure you have adequate signage warning customers of things like wet floors that may be more common during extreme weather.
  • Prepare an emergency evacuation route in the event of unexpectedly severe weather.
  • Ensure central heating will come on during freezing weather to avoid frozen pipes, and consider procuring sandbags to protect your business in the event of a flood.
  • Make sure you have a way of communicating closures with customers.
  • Consider transport routes to the business and whether traveling will be safe and practical.

While driving

  • Drive slowly and steadily and leave larger gaps between vehicles. Wet conditions can increase stopping distances by ten times.
  • In windy weather, leave plenty of room when passing other road users, particularly vulnerable road users like walkers, cyclists and motorcyclists.
  • Avoid braking suddenly, slowing down gently before corners and junctions.
  • Accelerate slowly, keeping revs low.
  • Take care coming up to junctions where road markings may be less visible.

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