Flood resilience training centre launches in Wallingford
Flooding campaigners have welcomed the launch of a centre helping homeowners across the Thames Valley.
The BeFloodReady Centre in Wallingford will offer advice and installation training for homes at risk of flooding.
The centre has been funded by the Department for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs and is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK.
It comes after a Met Office warning that flash flooding could be five times more likely by the end of the century.
Figures from the Environment Agency also revealed more than 120,000 homes are at low or medium risk of flooding across the south of England, while 19,000 are at high risk.
Simon Collings' home on Osney Island in Oxford was badly damaged by flooding in 2007, and again in 2014.
"It's an ever-present threat, so we keep a very close eye obviously. As soon as river levels start to go up, we start tracking what's happening," he said.
Mr Collings is part of the Oxford Flood Alliance, a community group working to reduce flooding in the city.
He and other residents were given flood defence equipment to protect them in the future, but he has welcomed the centre opening.
Mr Collings added: "Recently we've had several episodes of really, really heavy rain over a few hours - places where people have never seen flooding before - and that's particularly where I think some of these property level defences can be really effective."
The BeFloodReady centre includes a flood room, which demonstrates how devices and specialist materials can be used by homeowners to prevent damage.
It's equipment campaigner Mary Donau OBE, who has worked as a flood risk consultant for 20 years, has used to protect her own home.
She said: "My memories were washed away, my babies handprints, play group drawings - I lost the lot."
Ms Donau and her family were displaced for nine months after their home was flooded, and when they were able to return she installed flood resilience equipment.
She is now keen for local authorities, property developers and insurers to use the Wallingford centre to learn more about installing protective flooding equipment into new build properties.
"I would like developers to take on board the fact that if you absolutely have to build on a flood plain, you can invest a little bit more money," Ms Donau added.
"Every house built at flood risk should have equipment installed."
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