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Increased risk of flash flooding in London poses threat to life

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A report by a London Councils taskforce warned that the capital relies on a “Victorian drainage system that was not designed to cope with the city’s current and predicted future populations”.

Flash floods caused chaos and left a trail of destruction across London in July, 2021.

Flood waters poured through the streets and seeped into homes, shops and restaurants in various parts of the capital as it was hit by extreme storms from July 12 to 25.

A month’s worth of rain fell in three hours, with fourteen flood alerts implemented for most of the capital and some neighbouring counties.

The report found that there was insufficient funding to manage the risk, no single organisation in charge of combatting the flooding and a lack of public understanding of the risks posed.

Bob Ward, deputy chair of the London Climate Partnership, told 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.”

He added: “The problem is particularly worrying because we have no idea how many people live in basement properties in London.”

Following the flooding in London last July, an independent review was launched by Thames Water to investigate how the problem can be prevented in future.

The firm’s director of corporate affairs George Mayhew also apologised for the company’s “unacceptable” response to people whose homes were ruined and agreed that it had been implementing “band aids” for years instead of finding a permanent solution to the problems.

Thames Water Retail Director Warren Buckley added: “Ensuring that our network can operate and minimise the risk of future flooding needs to now become the collective new focus for all organisations involved in London’s water network and drainage systems.

“While we can’t prevent every flood from happening, we know that we can do better and we must invest in resources today in order to build greater resilience tomorrow.

“This independent review will be at the heart of driving future improvements at Thames Water, and we hope it will also prove valuable for all authorities with surface water management responsibilities.”

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