This week Dartford has been placed on flood alert by the Environment Agency. This follows the severe flooding we are seeing in some parts of the West Country. Our River Darent has swollen and the Dartford Marshes can only take so much water. The good news is that water levels are not at the moment expected to rise to a critical point but those living in flood risk areas need to monitor the changing situation.
Dartford has had its fair share of flooding in the past. Its proximity to the Thames, and the fact that the town centre is actually below sea level, have only served to increase flood risks. The 1766 floods were so bad- with the town submerged under a foot of water- that in 1795 Holy Trinity Church decided to apply a clay seal to the front door to keep future flood water out. You can still see markings on the inner church wall that document how high flood waters have reached in the church over the years.
Many readers will remember the infamous 1968 floods in Dartford which literally swamped the town and so this alert needs to be taken seriously. If you do live in a flood-risk area, Kent Police have provided some helpful tips for preparing your home. These include using plywood, sandbags and metal sheeting to cover doors and windows, and knowing your utility supplier names and numbers (and where to find each meter in your home!). Having a copy of your home insurance certificate handy is also worth remembering. A flood alert is the lowest of the Environment Agency’s levels of risk behind ‘flood warning’ and ‘severe flood warning’.