There are a number of agencies and authorities that have different responsibilities. The degree to which they deploy their resources will depend on the scale and impact of the flood, but this section gives an overview of who does what.

Local Authorities

If a flood happens, all local authorities are ‘category one responders’ under the Civil Contingencies Act. This means they must have plans in place to respond to emergencies and control or reduce the impact of an emergency.

The Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales

The Environment Agency and Natural Resources Wales are responsible for building, maintaining and operating flood defences and for issuing flood warnings in England and Wales respectively.


The police co-ordinate the emergency services during a major flood and help with evacuation of people from their homes where necessary.

Fire and Rescue Services

The fire and rescue service is primarily responsible for saving life. They may also pump out floodwater (contact your local service to ask about this as there may be a charge for the service).

Local Authorities

Local authorities give local advice about the incident and what to do. They set up rest centres for people evacuated from their homes and arrange temporary shelters or accommodation for people who have nowhere else to go.

Local Authorities

Local authorities also deal with road closures and disruption to local services.  They may investigate disruption caused by overflowing drains and sewers, and some provide sandbags (see below) and other emergency supplies.


National Flood Forum

The National Flood Forum can also be drafted in to offer emotional and practical support to people during the immediate aftermath of the flood and help them move forward with the recovery process.


Your council will have a policy on the deployment of sandbags in your area. Some will have a service that provides them, some won’t, whilst others will be discretionary.
If they do provide them, they may deliver them to the area or you may have to collect them from a depot. There may also be a limited supply.
It’s worth finding out what your council’s policy is so that you can plan what you might need to put in place.
Consider buying alternative sandbags that you can keep on your property. It will mean that they are immediately there when you need them.