Thousands of Burnley residents are living in homes at ‘high risk’ of flash flooding, experts have warned.
More than 1,500 residential properties and businesses are in flood danger zones across the borough, according to Environment Agency figures.
Almost 1,100 homes and businesses around the River Calder in Burnley are on the high risk list and a further 42 properties neighbouring the River Brun.
Large areas in neighbourhoods like Fulledge, Brunshaw and in Burnley town centre are among those under threat of flooding.
Padiham has 240 properties, including 58 businesses, which fall into the very high risk category because they are situated along the River Calder which runs right through the town centre. A further 207 are considered at high risk in the Greenbrook area, according to the agency.
Fears are that heavy rainfall could trigger widespread and devastating flash flooding across the borough similar to those seen in East Lancashire towns like Darwen and Todmorden last year.
Eric Bond, an environmental advisor for Groundworks Pennine Lancashire, said: “Flash floods can happen so quickly – and it happens all year round.
“If you go back to the very serious floods we have had in recent years like in Cockermouth you can see the level of disruption.
“A burglary will cost on average £1,000 but a flood can cause something like £28,000 worth of damage.”
Work has already started in Padiham to prepare residents and business owners for flash flooding with the Environment Agency funding Groundworks Pennine Lancashire’s county-wide flood risk management programme.
The town hall and library were hit when the River Calder flooded on January 21st, 2008.
But officials are now working with community groups, residents and businesses to bolster their early warning systems and flood defence action plans in the event of serious flooding.
Property owners in flood risk zones are urged to keep sandbag stores, alter air bricks and even install flood gates which can keep out around a metre of flood water.
Residents are advised to have flood action plans to protect their property when flash floods strike.
Businesses can get bespoke flood plans from GWPL officials which include monitoring early warning systems, storing sandbags and educating and preparing staff with a flood plan.
Residents and businesses can sign up to early warning systems like Floodline and up-to-the-minute weather information is available from the Met Office.
Community river stewardship schemes can help spot blockages and other issues early which could lead to flooding.
Mr Bond said: “Communities need a flood plan so vulnerable, elderly or young people are looked after.
“People need a flood plan for their property. There are very cheap bits of kit you can get to stop water coming over the threshold. There may be funding for homeowners to implement measures.”
Any wanting information about GWPL flood help contact 01254 265163 or info@SWELancashire.co.uk.