How To Support Communities That Remain At Risk Of Flooding

Posted on by Carol Holt and Emma Beever

A talk on what can be done in advance of flooding to protect communities

Carol Holt, Flood Risk Manager, National Recovery at Environment Agency and Emma Beever, Water Management Consultant at Royal HaskoningDHV, on what more can be done in advance of a flood to reduce the risk to people and property.

Following the Winter 2013/14 floods the Environment Agency wanted to build on the good practice examples of emergency response seen during that crisis, and has been considering how to embed community scale resilience measures in order to support those communities that remain at risk.

The Environment Agency has established a national capability to put temporary flood defenses in place before and during floods. The ‘Supporting Communities that Remain at Risk’ project has been a great opportunity to prepare plans and equipment for temporary defenses in more communities more of the time. An initial screening of locations nationally identified approximately 60 locations where temporary barriers could be used to provide a temporary defense.

Work to progress ‘Temporary Defense Deployment Plans’ at the highest priority sites started last year. Exercise ‘Obex’ was completed in September 2015 to test the ongoing planning for the use of temporary interventions. Following learning from the exercise and recent flooding as a result of storms Desmond, Eva and Frank, further temporary defense planning is ongoing.

Pre- planning the use of temporary defenses increases their success rate and ensures we can allocate the temporary defenses to locations that are technically suitable and will benefit the most. We are therefore in a better position to reduce risk and improve resilience from floods when and where the warnings come.

We have a larger national stock of temporary defenses than we did in 2012, including temporary barriers and an increased high volume pumping capacity. The temporary flood defenses will reduce the risk of flooding to residential and business communities, minimise risk to life and aid recovery. We have put decision-making protocols in incident rooms to prioritise locations for using the temporary barriers. The use of temporary defenses requires additional capacity during incidents. Therefore we have enabled our framework suppliers to assist us more quickly in incidents, as well as the military. The additional support during flood incidents improves our ability in advance of and during an incident to reduce residual risk, as well as ensuring we are more resilient, providing support in prolonged floods.

From material presented at the recent Flood & Coast 2016 conference where key stakeholders met to tackle the big questions in resilience and response to flooding and coastal erosion. The event was led by the Environment Agency, and drew together local authorities, infrastructure owners, consultancies, contractors, emergency responders, community groups and universities to facilitate the exchange of innovation and best practice across the flood and coastal risk management (FCRM) sector.

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