Communities on the Somerset Levels are this week receiving detailed plans that will help them prepare for and respond to any future flooding.
After months of work by residents – supported by staff working for the Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) and the Environment Agency – Community Resilience Plans are being distributed to every home in Moorland, Fordgate and West Yeo.
Just over 160 plans will be delivered door-to-door by nominated local flood wardens from these communities, which were among the worst affected by the winter floods of 2013/14.
The plans, produced by the local Community Resilience Group, will be put into action if the Environment Agency’s trigger points are reached. Each flood warden has responsibility for supporting a cluster of homes and linking with local authority co-ordinators on the ground. The Moorland village hall will become a communications hub for local residents and agencies responding to an emergency. It now has internet access, a laptop and a store of individualised wet-weather gear and equipment for flood wardens to use.
Cllr John Osman, Chairman of the SRA, said: “A huge amount has been done to reduce the likelihood and duration of any future flooding, but no-one can promise there won’t be flooding in Somerset again. “If we’re going to reduce flood impact it’s imperative that communities are prepared and have plans in place. These plans have been developed by the communities for the communities. They are detailed and practical and make use of local knowledge and I commend everyone who has given their time to develop them.”
Vanessa Leavy, a community engagement specialist with the Environment Agency, who has been working with local people on drawing flood plans, said: “The Environment Agency are confident that the work they have carried out with the SRA to support communities in creating flood plans, will help them prepare and therefore minimise the impacts of flooding if it does occur.”
Each household is receiving an area and household plan. The area plan identifies wardens allocated to clusters of homes and provides their contact details and information about the support they can offer. It includes a map and a laminated sign for people to put in their vehicles to prove they are local residents should they need access at a time of emergency.
Household plans give pointers for preparing for floods, such as moving valuables and planning for what to do with pets or livestock. Home owners are encouraged to develop their own plans with the help of advice and support. Residents can also complete a section detailing their specific needs and circumstances, for example any carer support they receive, so they can be catered for.
A Community Resilience Plan has already been completed and delivered for Burrowbridge and a plan for Chadmead is almost finished. Each plan is different, taking account of local geography, knowledge and need.
Grants are available from the Community and Resilience In Somerset Partnership (CRiSP). They have been used to buy things such as generators, headlamps, lighting, and dry sheds to be used to keep protective clothing, clean up equipment and depth markers.
Anyone wishing to find out more about how to get involved with a Community Resilience Group or set one up can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
IN THE PHOTO: ITV Westcountry reporter David Woodland films Moorland flood wardens Ed Florey and Kate Symonds discussing their local plan, on which they both worked.