North West Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (RFCC), members heard that the extraordinarily high rainfall experienced recently in the North West could have caused ten times more damage had it not been for recent investment in flood protection.
However, the continued unsettled weather and changing rainfall patterns could still put major urban areas in the region at risk.
The Committee was told that more than 400 properties had been flooded during June’s events, but that 4,000 had been protected. The main properties affected were at Darwen, Croston and Crawshawbooth.
The Environment Agency and its partners are now investigating to see if any measures can help to reduce flood risk in these areas in the future.
Defences recently constructed by the Environment Agency protected 3,000 homes from flooding. These included Carlisle, Wigan, Keswick. Cockermouth, Nelson, Barrowford and Rochdale. Work that has been carried out to recondition culverts to maintain their capacity is estimated to have protected another 1,000 properties.
Day-to-day maintenance, which keeps culverts and river grids cleared, will have protected thousands more properties.
RFCC Chair Derek Antrobus said: “Our hearts go out to those whose lives have been disrupted by floods. We work to reduce risks precisely because we know the terrible impact it can have on people’s lives.
“But it is clear that recent investments in the North West and the regular maintenance work by Environment Agency and its partners protected very many more properties. During the floods they worked hard to protect people and to restore some normality after the event.
“There is no room for complacency. The flooding in Newcastle should be a major lesson for the urban areas in the North West. Our Victorian drainage systems cannot cope with the volume of rainfall in these big storms.
“Changing weather patterns mean that heavy rainfall is likely to occur more often and local authorities need to make sure they take their new duties seriously to manage risk from this type of flooding.”
To find out more about flood risk and register for flood warnings members of the public can call the Environment Agency’s Floodline number on 0845 988 1188. You can also find out how you can take action to prepare for flooding by visiting the Environment Agency website at www.environment-agency.gov.uk/floodnorthwest
The Regional Flood & Coastal Committee meets quarterly and is open to members of the public and media to attend. If you are interested in finding out more about the committee, please contact Rachel Harmer on 01925 542462.
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For more information about flooding visit; http://www.environmentagency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/31666.aspx
What should I do when it floods?
In the event of a flood it is important to focus on the safety of you and your family.
If it is about to flood, DO THESE THINGS NOW:
• Tune into your local radio station on a battery or wind-up radio.
• Switch off your electricity / gas supplies.
• If you have a flood plan, put it into action.
• Move important items to safety
If there's time, fit any flood protection products you might have such as:
• Flood boards
• Airbrick covers
• Sandbags or alternative barriers
• Toilet bungs (only needed for downstairs toilets)
• Any other flood product
You should be prepared to act quickly and get yourself to safety. Put the safety of people first and listen to advice from the Police and the Emergency Services. Remember that their concern is for your safety.
Stay alert to localised flooding
Also known as 'surface water flooding'. This usually happens where drainage systems are unable to cope with heavy spells of rainfall. We cannot give you a direct warning for this type of flooding.
Instead we forecast where it might be a problem in certain counties and put a daily flood risk forecast on our website. You can also find out about the possibility of 'surface water' flooding in your area by checking local weather forecasts.
Floodwater is dangerous
• Six inches of fast flowing water can knock you over.
• Two feet of water will float your car.
• Flooding can cause manhole covers to come off, leaving hidden dangers.
• Don’t walk or drive through flood water.
• Don’t let children play in flood water.
• Don’t walk on sea defences or riverbanks.
• When water levels are high be aware that bridges may be dangerous to walk or drive over.
• Culverts are dangerous when flooded.
• Look out for other hazards such as fallen power lines and trees.
• Wash your hands thoroughly if you touch floodwater as it may be contaminated.