With temperatures dropping, our attention turns to winter and potentially, the risk of more flooding. But how well prepared are our councils for more bad weather? We put this question to every council in our two counties.
All of them came back to us saying they have got a multi-agency flood approach.
A number of them also said that they have held community flood meetings, secured flood funding, and hope to have volunteer flood wardens ready for winter.
Over in Guildford, Lead Member for Environment, Matt Furniss, tells us about a new type of sandbag they are hoping to get: “Sandbags in themselves aren’t actually that effective and we are investigating new technology particularly with them.
“So they’re sandbags without sand, that actually inflate when they come into contact with water, they are proving much more effective.”
He tells us when Guildford Borough Council is hoping to have all of this ready for: “We are hoping to have everything in place by December this year so if there is a repeat which we are hoping there isn’t then everything it prepared.
“Residents can be assured that all of our emergency teams aren’t having much leave over this Christmas just as a precaution.”
Here is a breakdown of what each council in Surrey and Hampshire is doing in preparation for more flooding:
GUILDFORD BOROUGH COUNCIL
- Following the extreme weather of December and January, they formed a Flooding Review Group (FLG) to examine the events and look at their plans for the future.
- The Environment Agency (EA) has spent £1 million on restoring the channel capacity of the River Wey. The works, which took place over the summer, removed trees and cleared areas where sand had built up. The EA is also carrying out a study looking at options to minimise the risk of flooding in the town centre.
- They are going to build a bund which will contain any excess floodwater to protect properties in Ash Green.
- Traffic congestion on 24th December 2013 hampered efforts to get sandbags to areas that required them urgently. Areas are being identified where sandbags can be stored in the town centre – removing the need to transport them in times of emergency.
- Engineers are looking at options for alternatives to sandbags, and we will trial some this winter.
- Improvements to how warnings are given about flooding, with further promotion of the EA’s warning system.
- Launch a new scheme called ‘Flood Lookouts’, involving volunteers who could assist in raising flood awareness at times of flooding and provide information.
MOLE VALLEY DISTRICT COUNCIL
- Mole Valley District Council (MVDC) continues to work with its partner agencies including Surrey County Council (the lead flood authority for Surrey), the Environment Agency, (which is responsible for managing flood risk from main rivers) and Thames Water (which is responsible for public sewers and lateral drains that are not highways drains and sewers) to protect and support our residents in times of flooding, as in 2013/14.
- Mole Valley is already working with local communities to identify locations for the distribution of sandbags in case of flooding.
- The Council is attending and supporting local flood forums throughout Mole Valley, which aim to identify and solve local flood risks such as blocked drains, overgrown vegetation and silted ditches or gullies.
- MVDC offers financial support for those affected by flooding through Council Tax relief. Those residents who were internally flooded during December 2013 to February 2014 were entitled to three months Council Tax relief, which was extended for those who were still unable to return to their homes as a result of flood damage and associated building works after that 3 month period. The relief can be extended for the period the property remains unoccupied due to flood damage, up to a maximum of 12 months.
- In addition, MVDC has promoted the Repair and Renew Grant which is available to anyone whose home was internally damaged by flooding between 1 December 2013 and 31 March 2014. Up to £5,000 can be applied for, for measures that will better protect homes against flooding. Administered by Surrey County Council, the deadline for this grant has been extended to 31 October.
To read the full Eagle Radio News article on how other Councils are preparing for floods click here