The Environment Agency and a committee representing leading property insurance providers have responded to the recent crisis by producing a booklet explaining where not to buy a house.
A government spokesman proudly explained that the handy laminated guide is being published for the ungifted who cannot read Ordinance Survey maps nor interpret indicators such as blue wiggly lines, tufty 'marsh' symbols, and those brown things called contours. The booklet mitigates the risk of insurance 'postcode lottery', with clues for the literate provided in the names of conurbations.
Places to avoid include any names containing the words: mud, marsh, pool(e), puddle, soak(e), ford and flood. Other indicators of risk include the prefixes 'Lower', 'Under' and 'New'.
Those living in towns such as Mudeford ('Mud-y-Ford') will face prohibitive insurance policies with exclusions of 'everything'. Upon ringing insurers, residents will be directed to telephone options that have soothing recordings of whale song and waterfalls for at least 20 minutes, before clicking over to more provocative tracks, such as Richard Marx 'Hazard', and the Beatles 'Yellow Submarine'.
Insurance providers are claiming the moral high ground and stating that it is entirely fair to withold insurance in certain cases. Harold Simms, an assessor of non-payment explained 'Policy holders will be told in future to 'suck it up'. While we do have enormous sympathy for all the people whose properties have been affected, we are as devastated at they are that the government let houses be built in silly places.'
Verity Snippety-Hoag, of Fulflood in Winchester, waved her kayak paddle angrily in the face of a BBC weather reporter in a dingy. 'Bloody apalling', she ranted, 'Tamsin's pony hasn't been able to leave the paddock all week and some bastard has stolen the snorkel off the Range Rover exhaust', and now they are saying we aren't insured'.
Local councils and property developers have reacted more cautiously to the guidelines, suggesting that they might be made to look silly or a bit dodgy. 'With 20:20 hindsight it is easy to say that water runs downhill and collects in dips. But no-one told us'.