Flexible Flood Defence Blocks: What they are and why they’re great!

Flexible Flood Defence blocks are a flexible and speedy flood defence.  The can be deployed quickly and easily and importantly, they are re-usable.

The Flexible Flood Defence Blocks are currently being used by The Hebden Bridge Flood volunteers who have said” In the past, we would have had to fill and carry many sandbags over a greater period of time and we would not have been able to save as many homes from damage”

You can read more Flexible Flood Blocks general information & technical specification :

  • What are Flexible Flood Blocks?
  • What are the benefits?
  • How Hebden Bridge Flood Volunteers use the blocks?
  • Technical specification.

You can read the more about the Hebden Bridge Flood Volunteers – how they tackled Storm Angus  

If you have any questions about the Flexible Flood Defence Blocks then please call us on 0208 442 0872 or email us on info@ukflooddefencealliance.com

Not all York businesses aware of their eligibility for £5000 Flood Resilience Grants. Act now as the deadline is the 31st May

We have been talking to residents and businesses in York that were affected by the terrible floods in December 2015.  What has surprised us is that a number of people, particularly local businesses, simply don’t know about the £5000 flood grant that is still available to them.

The government allocated funding so that each house or business affected by the floods can have flood protection and resilience products fitted to protect them from future flooding.

The deadline for applications is 31st May 2017 so time is running out and people should act now.


What will it provide?

Flood protection means products that help to keep flood water out of your property.  For example, fitting flood doors, flood barriers and SMART airbricks.

Flood resilience means making changes to help your property recover quickly if it is flooded again.  For example, raising electrical sockets from floor to waist level, changing the flooring to something that dries quickly or moving the boiler out of the danger zone.

Mary Dhonau (Queen of Floods) has an informative video on explaining the difference between flood protection and resilience and what measures are available.

You can watch it on YouTube  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wk_galVAsqE


Mary Dhonau explains flood resilience and flood resistance measures


What should people do now?

Homeowners and business owners must act now to take advantage of the £5000 grant.  They can apply online or download an application form at http://www.york.gov.uk/form/floodgrant.  Alternatively, they can contact the council and have an application form posted to them.

The property will need to be surveyed and the surveyor will produce a report giving recommendations for protecting the property.  We have been working with a local surveyor LHL (01904 690699 or nathan.hughes@lhlgroup.co.uk) but there will be other local surveyors who can also do this.

The surveyor’s report should then be submitted to the council with quotations from two companies who could complete the flood protection and resilience work.

The council will assess each application and they aim to approve the application within 5 days.

Householders and business owners then have a period of time to get the work completed and signed off.


Do people not know about the scheme or are they worried about what is involved?

We have spoken to local people (homeowners and local business owners) who don’t know that the Flood Grant scheme is available to them and that the deadline for applications is 31st May 2017.

There might also be people who think it is all going to be “a lot of trouble” and therefore they won’t bother.  Yes, there are some forms to be completed and some organising to get your survey and quotes from companies organised.  However, this needs to be balanced against the impact and trouble involved when flooding happens again.

The UK Flood Defence Alliance has brought together in one place a wide range of high quality, kite-marked flood protection products from a range of manufacturers.  This makes it easy for people to get the right products for their property.  Homeowners and businesses deal with one contact who will make sure that everything goes smoothly from ordering to installing.

For further information please call 0208 442 0872 or email info@ukfda.com.  Alternatively, you can visit our website on www.ukflooddefencealliance.com



Hebden Bridge Flood Warden presents case study at Carlisle Flood Expo

Andrew Entwistle is the Flood Warden at Hebden Bridge.  The steep hills of The Calder Valley cause fast running water and flash flooding.

Consequently, he and his team have a lot of experience of fighting floods and protecting property.  In this presentation he reflected on:

  • The Calder Valley and why it floods?
  • The history of flooding in The Calder Valley
  • Lessons learnt
  • Coping with Storm Angus
To access the slides from Andrew’s presentation please click this link.   Hebden Bridge Case Study Slides for Flood Expo 30.01.17

Lessons from a Flood Group – CERT(UK) share their experience

In December 2015 Kerryanne Wilde was standing knee deep in flood water and had what she called ‘her light bulb moment’.  She realised that Cumbria would not be able to cope with the devastation caused by Storm Desmond and put messages out on social media.  From here, the Eden Flood Volunteers was born.

Since then, the group and their volunteers supported 3,200 families in the first 10 days following Storm Desmond; received more than £2.2 million of donated goods; have worked more than 97,000 volunteer hours and received awards for their sterling efforts.  Recently, they have changed their name to Community Emergency Response Team (CERT UK) which reflects their new vision and the expanded role of the group.

What lessons have they learnt that are useful for other flood groups? 

1. Be clear on your goal.   

What do you want to achieve?  What is your remit?  Once you are clear, you can plan to achieve it.  An initial plan on A4 paper with headline actions got the Eden Flood volunteers off the ground.


2   Get your team in place – Fill your essential roles quickly

The Eden Flood Volunteers found that the following roles were absolutely key:

  • Head of Admin: to send messages out to team members and get information in
  • Head of Warehouse: to receive, store and dispatch items
  • Transport Manager: co-ordinating deliveries to people in need via the fleet of volunteers in their vehicles.
  • Volunteer Manager: co-ordinating volunteers and their offers of help
  • PR Manager: creating links and sending messages with national and local radio, newspapers and managing social media communication.


3. What you need changes  

Clothes and bedding were critical for the first 48 hours, but after that the needs changed and camping gas stoves, camping gas and slightly surprisingly, male toiletries became key.  As time progressed the needs changed again and again.


4.  Tell people what you need and don’t be afraid to turn things down.

The Eden Flood Volunteers made links with companies and supermarkets on social media.  They found that producing a ‘Daily Top 10 Requirements List’ and publishing it got the information to the people who could help.

They found that being specific with companies about what they needed them to donate was the best way of getting the right items, in the right quantity at the right time.

Equally, they found that it was important to say ‘No’ to some items.  Perhaps the need for that item had passed or the sell-by date was too short.  Saying ‘No thank you’ meant that they were not disposing of out of date food or clogging up their valuable warehouse space with items that weren’t a priority.


5.  Two types of need

Initially people’s needs are ‘hard’ needs – The need for food, possessions, shelter and housing.  As times goes on the needs become ‘softer’.  Softer doesn’t mean easier, because by then people are experiencing financial difficulties, mental health and anxiety issues and marital difficulties.

The softer needs are difficult.  The group have found that it is critical that people feel ‘listened to’ and this takes time.  Consequently, they have secured the services of a counsellor and forged links with other voluntary organisations so that they can put local residents in contact with the help that they need.


6.  Skills are in short supply 

Kerryanne reflected that solving food shortages was hard but do-able, but solving skills shortages was much harder.  As time progressed and the needs became softer, finding volunteers with good listening skills became key and they have found that ‘listening volunteers’ are in short supply.


7.  Be firm with volunteer organisations 

Good intentions can be a hindrance when the time isn’t right.  It is best to work out when you need a specific skill or type of support and call on it when the time is right.


8.  Don’t be bullied – stand up for your organisation & your goals 

From telling supermarkets and large stores what specific items they needed, turning donations away because they weren’t critical in that moment, to dealing with their local council, the group have had to stand up for themselves, their role and the people they serve.


9.  You can’t communicate enough 

The group communicated via social media to find out where vulnerable people were and what support they needed.  They have communicated with volunteers, with other voluntary organisations, potential donors, large companies about donations and lastly, the council.


10.  Adapt and change 

The Eden Flood Volunteers have realised with time that their original vision and goals were too narrow.  It has become clear that there are other situations where people need their support.

They have expanded their role and changed their name to the Community Emergency Response Team (CERT UK).  The reasons for people being in need might differ, but the support that they need is the same.  In addition to flood victims, CERT now also supports:

  • People who are fleeing domestic violence
  • People who have lost their home and belongings due to fire
  • People with special needs leaving hospital
  • People leaving prison
  • People who are homeless


And another thing ….

From speaking and working with the CERT UK team over recent months, I would add a note of my own.  They have clear sense of purpose; strong leadership and have created a cohesive team who believe passionately in the work that they are doing.  I would suggest that this has been key to all that they have achieved since the day that Kerryanne stood thigh deep in flood water.


If you would like to contact the CERT UK Team then their contact details are:

CERT (UK) – Community Emergency Response Team UK

Formally known as Eden Flood Volunteers Ltd 

Cumbria’s Noah’s Ark,  Skirsgill Highways Depot,  Penrith,  CUMBRIA,  CA10 2BL

Office: 01768-593190    www.certuk.org.uk      info@certuk.org.uk

Caring, Empathetic, Responsible, Trustworthy



Biba launches flood insurance for businesses

Flood Re provides affordable insurance for home owners in flood risk areas but businesses and rental properties are excluded from the scheme.  The British Insurance Brokers Association (Biba) have launched a new scheme that will include flood cover for many commercial premises and let properties located in areas at risk from flooding.  It is welcome news.  Read more

The advantages of sandbag alternatives

The flood warnings have been posted,  you are at risk of flooding so what do you do to protect your home or business?  You need to protect the entry points and redirect the flow of water where you can.
Traditionally, sandbags have been used in an attempt to do this.  They are only partially effective and the advantages of sandbag alternatives should render the traditional sandbag a thing of the past.  Modern sandbag alternatives are the way forward. This article explains the different types of sandbag alternatives that are available and their advantages over traditional sandbags.


How do sandbag alternatives work?

Some sandbag alternatives are filled with gel. Once laid in position each bag will absorb approximately 20 litres of water and inflate becoming a barrier against flood water. Smaller strips of the sandbag alternative can be used to create a watertight seal around a door and larger strips of the sandbag alternative can be used to direct flood water.
Place them where you need them, wet them to get them to inflate and then they’re ready to protect your property.
Other sandbag alternatives look like flat discs but they fit together to form an effective barrier against flood water wherever you need them. They are excellent for creating a barrier or directing flood water away from vulnerable areas.


Why are they better than traditional sandbags?

There are many advantages to using sandbag alternatives.

  • Speed and ease of use: Sandbag alternatives are light and therefore easy to move into the place where you need them. You move them when they are dry which makes them light and easy to handle. Sandbags ideally need two people to fill a them and it is heavy labour.  Many a back has been put out in the process!  Sandbags will then weigh approximately 30 lbs and will be need to be carried or dragged to where you need them.
  • Storage: Sandbag alternatives can be easily stored. The bag type are stored dry and being light can be easily stacked and don’t take up too much room.  The block type are reusable and can be cleaned off, stacked and stored ready for subsequent use. Traditional sandbags however, are the absolute opposite of this.  Large quantities of sand need to be stored, it’s cumbersome, can be messy and takes up a lot of space.
  • Reuse: some sandbag alternatives can be dried and re-used. Traditional sandbags are extremely heavy because they’re full of wet sand.  If you attempt to dry them it is a slow process and often the actual sandbag splits and the wet sand escapes creating mess.
  • Disposal: If the sandbag alternative has been filled with clean safe water then it does not absorb contaminated flood water and can be disposed of safely into the environment. However, traditional sandbags will absorb the flood water, including any contaminants and therefore must be disposed of safely.  There is a tax of £64/ton on disposal of used sandbags on top of the costs of transporting them.  It can work out to be quite expensive!
  • Environmentally friendly: The sandbag alternatives that we supply are filled with environmentally friendly super absorbent material. This means that when the threat of flooding has passed the bag can be split and the contents safely released into the soil for easy disposal.



Which sandbag alternatives do you recommend?

We supply both types of sandbag alternative – gel filled and flexible blocks, so that you can choose which you would prefer.

The Hydrosnake: Is a gel filled sandbag alternative and provides a barrier to direct water away from your property.  Use them to protect doors, vents, furniture and equipment.


The Hydrosack: can be moved to where you need it and then inflated with clean water.  They absorb up to 20 litres of water and inflate to create a barrier to protect the entry points to your property from flood water.


Eco Blocks:  provides a flexible yet robust defence against running water.They can be re-used, and will last for years. After use, they can be power-washed and stored, ready to be used again., Flexible Flood Defence Blocks in action
Flexible Flood Defence Blocks in action
The blocks have been used successfully at Hebden Bridge, Cumbria on many occasions  to protect the town centre.  “Once the blocks were in place there was an 80% drop in the water runoff.  The blocks saved the day again!” Andrew Entwistle, Hebden Bridge Flood Warden.


We are the UK Flood Defence Alliance.  We have brought together in one place a selection of  the highest quality flood defence products, from a range of different manufacturers.  This makes it easier for you to find the most suitable products to protect your property. More information can be found on our website  or you can contact us directly on 020 8442 0872 or by emailing info@ukfda.com.  We are always happy to help.

How Hebden Bridge Flood Volunteers tackled Storm Angus

Hebden Bridge

The Calder Valley in West Yorkshire, is a steep sided valley which reacts very quickly to outbreaks of rain.  The hillside roads become de facto rivers as the water run-off from the surrounding fields and woodland cascades down the roads.

Hebden Bridge, in the Calder Valley, is a renowned flooding hotspot.  The water from the hillside hits the main road at speed, over-shoots the drains and then floods the High Street, damaging both residential and retail property at significant financial and emotional cost.

The Flood Volunteers have taken delivery of some ‘Flexible Flood Defence Blocks’ and have used them most successfully.


Flood defence blocks direct flood water into drains

                                                                                                              They have placed them around the drains on the descent roads around Hebden Bridge. They create catchments around the drains, slowing the water and enabling the drains to take the water away, so protecting residential and commercial properties in the town centre.




Storm Angus

During Storm Angus the ‘Flexible Flood Defence Blocks’ were put to good use again.  Various factors were contributing to a potentially dangerous situation: The River Calder was at a really high level; leaves were blocking drains and culverts; and this was in addition to a critical level of water run-off from the hillside.

Flexible Flood Defence Blocks diverting flood water


The Flood Volunteers quickly put the ‘Flexible Flood Defence Blocks’ in place and directed the water run-off into a nearby canal. There was a noticeable and immediate reduction of around 80% of the run-off water reaching the High Street.

“Never before has there been such a marked contrast!” said Andrew Entwistle, Flood Warden, Hebden Bridge.


Later that day property further up the hillside was under threat. Volunteers armed with 40 ‘Flexible Flood Defence Blocks’ were able to direct the flow of water away from the affected residential property.  Due to the speed with which the Volunteers could direct the water only 2 homes suffered some comparatively minor damage out of the potential 20- 25 houses.

“Thank heaven for the ‘Flexible Defence Blocks’.  In the past, we would have had to fill and carry many, many sandbags over a greater period of time and we would not have been able to save as many homes from damage”

A Flexible Flood Defence Block

                                                                                                                Another advantage is that after each use, the Flood Volunteers collect up the ‘Flexible Flood Defence Blocks’, clean them with a power washer and then store them away for the next time they’re needed.  They have been reused many times now and are an invaluable tool to the Hebden Bridge Flood Volunteers.


“I am delighted to pass on the thanks of the townsfolk.  I’d go so far as to say that the blocks saved the day again! Thank you” Andrew Entwistle, Hebden Bridge, Flood Warden.

UK Flood Defence Alliance

We are the UK Flood Defence Alliance.  We offer our customers a comprehensive range of flood products designed to meet their individual needs.  We offer advice on our website https://www.ukflooddefencealliance.com/flood-advice/ or you can contact us directly on 020 8442 0872 or by emailing info@ukfda.com.  We are always happy to help.