Flooding

Flooding could affect many households and businesses in Suffolk and can cause danger to life as well as serious damage to property. The risk of flooding in the county is likely to increase in the future due to changes in the climate and increases in surfaces impermeable to water.

On this page:

Types of Flooding  

Surface Water Flooding

This type of flooding is caused because the volume of water falling or flowing onto hard surfaces overwhelms existing drainage systems. This type of flooding risk are usually short lived and associated with heavy downpours of rain, thunder storms etc. Often there is limited advance notice of this type of this localised flooding. However weather forecasts from the Met Office can give a good generalised indication of the possibility flood risk.

Small watercourses (such as streams and ditches) and highway drainage systems can usually cope with certain frequencies of storm and rainfall intensity. Flooding can be caused by the sheer volume of water or indicate a blockage or maintenance problem with the system. Any flooding of this type should be reported to Suffolk County Council so that the causes of the flooding can be investigated with and dealt with as appropriate. 

If you own land or property next to a river, stream or ditch you are a ‘riparian landowner’ and we recommend you read 'Living on the Edge' which tells you of your rights and responsibilities. 

Coastal (Tidal) and River (Fluvial) Flooding

Coastal flooding is caused by high tides and surges plus inclement weather causing the sea to overtop or breach sea defences and inundate the surrounding areas. During periods of heavy rain rivers will overtop their and fill the natural floodplain, causing flooding of surrounding land and roads. This may affect property and infrastructure located within the floodplain.

Both of these events are usually forecast in advance and you can obtain warning of the impending risks from the Environment Agency and Met Office web sites.

Environment Agency's interactive maps showing flood risks, coastal erosion, flood and coastal schemes, etc. Click on the topic of interest then locate and zoom into the area of interest.

Who to contact about flooding  

In an emergency especially if there is danger to life as a result of flooding you should not hesitate to ring 999. Using 999 to call the Fire and Rescue Service is only suitable for circumstances where there is a very real and immediate risk to life. Fire appliances will not usually attend flooded properties unless there is a significant risk to the occupants. In situations where property is flooded or under threat of flood:

  • Isolate all electrics if safe to do so.
  • If you have elderly or vulnerable neighbours or relatives you should contact them and ensure they are safe and know what to do if their properties become flooded.
  • Consider moving possessions upstairs if possible.
  • Do not try to drive through standing water, the water may damage your car and there may be obstructions underneath that you cannot see.
  • If you anticipate the flood water may reach a dangerous level, secure your property and make your way to a place of safety
  • Avoid any unnecessary long journeys as local roads may also be flooded.
  • For further information and guidance listen to local radio

Environment Agency Floodline: 0845 988 1188 for flood information and flood warnings.

For general enquires about river or sea flooding:
contact the Environment Agency on 03708 506 506

To report flooding from sewers and water pipes:
contact Anglian Water on 0800 771 881 (24 hours)

Flooding on the highway:
Any incidents on major trunk roads (A14, A11 and A12 south of Ipswich and north of Lowestoft) should be directed to the Highways Agency Information Line: 0300 123 5000

For any other roads in Suffolk ring 0345 606 6171 (office hours) or 01473 433444 (out of hours).

Non urgent reports of minor flooding or blocked drains or gullies can be reported online via Suffolk County Council. 

Flood Warnings  

When flooding is likely, the Environment Agency issues flood alerts and warnings through the media; they are broadcast on TV and local radio. You can register with the Environment Agency to receive a free flood warnings by phone, text or email.. You can also view flood warnings in force on the Environment Agency website or get advice and information via Floodline on 0845 9881188.

However, the Environment Agency flood warning system only relates to the risk from sea and river flooding, not to surface water flooding. Local weather forecasts and the Met Office provide severe weather warnings which indicate the surface water flooding is possible.

Know your Flood Risk gives guidance and advice to prepare for a flood and understand the risks.

Flood Risk Management Strategy  

Suffolk's Flood Risk Management Strategy is an important new tool to help everyone understand and manage flood risk within our county. The strategy summarises the information available on the risk of flooding in Suffolk and ways to manage that risk.

The activities identified in this strategy can only manage flood risk. It would not be possible, even if there was unlimited money available, to protect all properties from any flood risk. Instead efforts need to be made by all involved, organisations and householders alike, to reduce flood risk in practical ways. Sometimes this involves focussing not just on decreasing the probability of flooding but also its impact, making sure that properties and households can cope in the event of a serious flood.

Read the Managing Flood Risk in Suffolk - Summary and the Action Plan.

Ipswich Surface Water Management Plan

As part of our work to better understand the risks of surface water flooding and how to deal with them, we have undertaken a detailed study in Ipswich. To view a summary of our findings and to understand what you can do to help us manage flood risk, please see the summary document. You can also view the full technical report.

Suffolk Flood Risk Management Partnership

Useful Information

Suffolk Flood & Coastal News

Find out the latest infomation about flood legislation, policy and local activities