UK Floods – 2013 to 2014 Winter Floods Caused £1.3 Billion Damage

An official report by the Environment Agency in the UK reveals that the winter floods of 2013 to 2014 caused damage in England and Wales costing around £1.3 billion.

Residential properties, making up 25% of total damages, suffered the greatest proportion of flood damages. As many as 10,465 properties suffered flood damage, with estimated incurred costs of £320 million. Furthermore, an estimated £50 million was spent on temporary accommodation for 7,000 households forced from their homes by the floods. As many as 4,897 businesses also suffered, incurring costs of around £270 million.

But it wasn’t just buildings and property that suffered damage. According to the report, the 2013 to 2014 winter floods caused damage to 5,400 motor vehicles, including boats and caravans, with estimated costs of £37 million.

Damage to roads cost £180 million and railway damage around £110 million. Costs to to air transport, which included flooding and disruption to flights at Gatwick airport, are estimated at £3.2 million. Damage to local authority and government infrastructure costs around £58 million.

2013 to 2014 Winter Floods

Between December 2013 and March 2014, the UK witnessed heavy and prolonged rainfall, including the wettest January on record in parts of the country and around twice the average monthly rainfall in other locations.

The East Coast was also affected by the largest coastal surge since 1953. These events resulted in significant coastal damage and prolonged fluvial and groundwater flooding, particularly in some southern counties and south western areas of England. During these 4 months many properties, crucial transport infrastructure and farmland were flooded.

floods on somerset levels 2014
Flooded fields of the Somerset Levels, February 2014. Photo: Number10gov / Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

About the Report

The report is the result of research commissioned by the Environment Agency’s Evidence Directorate and funded by the joint Flood and Coastal Erosion Risk Management Research and Development Programme.

The project aimed to identify the range of impacts of the floods, and to calculate the resulting financial and economic damages but also calculate damages that were avoided. Over 600 organisations were contacted for information and over 500 data sources were reviewed.

The project used methodologies developed in response to the floods of summer 2007 flood, and also the rapid flood cost calculator devised by the Environment Agency in 2012.

However, the characteristics and impacts of the 2013 to 2014 floods differed in many ways from those of the 2007 floods, prompting an in-depth review. In particular, a better assessment was needed of the impacts resulting from coastal surge and extreme waves that were a feature of the winter floods for many coastal areas. The long duration floods in areas such as the Somerset Levels was also a key feature of the winter 2013 to 2014 floods. Rivers in the area were later dredged as a result of the damage caused by the floods.

See the full report, The costs and impacts of the winter 2013 to 2014 floods, here.