ALMOST half of Darwen businesses have been flooded in recent years, a council survey discovered.

But officials were alarmed to find that two-thirds of those damaged by deluges were not taking preventive measures in case of a repeat of 2012 when heavy rain, three times in a few summer weeks, caused extensive damage.

The results came after representatives of ‘Flood Watch’, Blackburn with Darwen borough’s awareness project, spoke to firms in Darwen on how prepared they were for future floods.

Bill Fleck, of Celebration Cakes in Duckworth Street, said: “They came round with information, phone numbers and leaflets about how to protect premises and what to do if there is flooding. We had our cellar flooded last year.

“They advised us on how to put a flood kit together. It was useful and helpful – nice to see the council thinking ahead.” Figures show that businesses are more likely to be flooded than burnt down, with the cost of flood damage four times higher than that from a fire.

In total, 43 per cent of businesses surveyed admitted they had been flooded in recent years, costing some £10,000 in repairs.

But 67 per cent of those flooded admitted to taking no preventive action since because of a ‘low risk perception’.

Flood Watch wants businesses in ‘at risk’ areas to be prepared and have plans in place.

Its officers can help firms develop emergency response plans which include ways to help minimise damage and details on what to do and who to contact in an emergency.

Flood Watch was unveiled earlier this year on the anniversary of the major flash floods after a successful bid for a share of a £5m pot of government cash.

Council regeneration boss Coun Maureen Bateson said: “Floods can have a severe impact on businesses, costing them vital trading hours and thousands of pounds in repairs and damaged stock.

“Flood Watch wants to advise businesses on ways that they can be more prepared to help minimise the often devastating impact that floods can have”.