Drivers urged to be flood aware, ahead of wet and windy winter

Rain and windy weather in Sudbury town centre

Rain and windy weather in Sudbury town centre - Credit: Archant

As the nights draw in, the rain comes down and the coats come out, our extended summer is well and truly over.

Yesterday’s wet and windy morning was a sign of things to come, as the weekend is set to bring more rain, damp and fog.

Drizzle is not the only thing this weekend brings. Christmas lights are being switched on in towns all over the region, which means winter must not be too far in the distance.

Weather experts have predicted a dry Saturday until dusk and then a wet, windy and misty Sunday, with temperatures averaging 11C (51.8F) over the weekend.

In light of yesterday’s downpour, the Environment Agency and the AA are urging drivers to be flood aware.

Darron Burness, head of the AA’s flood rescue team, said: “During last winter, which was the wettest on record, we alone attended around 4,400 flood-related call-outs but many were completely avoidable.”

A joint survey by the two organisations reveals that more than 60% of UK drivers – 20 million in total – would still risk an accident by driving through flood water.

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The largest number of rescues from flood water on a single day in the last five years was Christmas Eve 2013 – with 642 rescues, according to the survey.

East Anglia’s electricity network, UK Power Networks is now preparing for the cold months ahead by launching a helpline for customers to call in the event of a power cut.

Following the chaos of last year’s storms, the network has also introduced a free Priority Services Register for vulnerable customers.

It entitles them to extra help such as updates or home visits to create security and peace of mind for people who need it most across the region this winter.

Pat Brooks, UK Power Networks head of network operations in the eastern region, said: “Communication with customers is a top priority, and we want to ensure everyone in East Anglia knows who can help them get the lights on quickly.”

The company has also trained an extra 900 call handlers to help improve customer response during periods of adverse weather.

The British Red Cross, one of the company’s charity partners, is supporting this winter pledge with volunteers on hand to visit vulnerable customers who experience more complex power cuts.

Since the electricity company pioneered the partnership in 2008, volunteers have helped more than 16,000 people across the UK.

Jocille Patterson, emergency planning and response co-ordinator for Cambridgeshire, Norfolk and Suffolk for the Red Cross, said its teams would be ready to bring practical help and emotional support to those who needed it.

In the event of a power cut, contact UK Power Networks free from a landline on 0800 316 3105 or 0333 323 2105 from a mobile.