Britons told to prepare ’emergency grab bags’ as three million homes issued flood warnings

The UK was hit with heavy rains and storms yesterday as the heatwave finally came to a close. Families braced themselves for travel chaos and power cuts as forecasters warned of flash floods. The heatwave has seen an increased risk of flood warnings across the nation due to the condition it has left fields and farmland in.

Local authorities have been urging people to prepare an emergency bag of essential items in case their homes are damaged by deluges.

Environment Agency estimates suggest that more than three million households in England are vulnerable to surface water flooding, with another 300,000 in Wales and Scotland also at risk.

The Met Office has issued a yellow thunderstorm alert for Wednesday across the south of England.

Forecasters have warned that the downpours could cause deep flood water, posing a danger to life.

Flood warnings have been issued for parts of west London near the Thames, including Richmond, Chiswick and Putney.

Patrick Goulbourne, the London Fire Brigade’s Assistant Commissioner, said: “It is really important that Londoners – particularly those living in basement properties – are prepared and know what to do should a flood occur.

“Pay attention to weather alerts and prepare a flood kit or grab bag. People can use sandbags to limit the water flow and move belongings to a higher level.”

A “grab bag” should contain essential documents and belongings, including mobile phones, chargers, emergency cash, and medication, according to the National Flood Forum.

READ MORE: Cornwall has experiences flooding and thunderstorms

For parents with young children, it should also include nappies, a favourite toy, clothing, wipes, milk and baby food.

But despite the welcomed rain, experts have warned that the drought is far from over as the country will need weeks of rainfall to replenish supplies.

Last month was the driest July since 1976 and, with temperatures reaching 36C over the weekend in some areas, a drought has been declared up and down the country.

Christine Colvin, from the Rivers Trust NGO, warned there is a risk that people will not take the drought seriously in the coming days.

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She told MailOnline: “We want people to keep this rainfall event in context and as part of the bigger picture. The bigger picture is that we’ve actually still had an incredibly dry year as well as a dry summer and it’s going to take sustained rainfall to replenish our supplies. Just because it rains, it doesn’t mean the drought is over.”

Last month, temperatures reached 40.3C in some areas, breaking the national record.

Hosepipe bans are currently in place in several parts of the country in an attempt to battle the drought and restore supplies.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan said: “I have written to tens of thousands of Londoners who live in homes that could be affected by flash flooding. My message to Londoners is to please contact Floodline, go to your local authority’s website to see what you can do to reduce the chances of you being flooded and also to minimise the consequences on you.”

Referencing flash floods last July – when two months’ worth of rain fell in two hours – he added: “We learned a lot from last year [when] people’s homes, businesses and public transport were flooded.”

In Cornwall yesterday, motorists were left stranded as they battled their way through flooded roads.