The Environment Agency’s new flood warning siren in the Dunhills Estate, East Leeds, will be sounded this week for the very first time.
The siren has been installed as part of the flood defence work at Wyke Beck, and helps to get the message out quickly to the local community if flooding is expected. The new siren, which sounds like an air raid siren, has been installed to improve the warning service for the local area.
The Environment Agency has eight flood sirens across Yorkshire, in the Upper Calder towns of Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd.
The tests at Wyke Beck will happen on Tuesday 18 September at 2pm and 6pm and will each last for two minutes. Residents and businesses in the area do not need to take any action when they hear the siren at this time. Loudhailer vehicles will be used to alert people in the area to the test, ahead of the siren being sounded.
History of flooding
Environment Agency engagement officer Graham Lindsey said: “The residents of Dunhills have been unfortunate enough to have been flooded three times by Wyke Beck in recent years. Since the flooding in June 2007 we have been working closely with the community and the local flood group to identify ways to tackle this problem, and we have done extensive work in the channel to reduce obstacles and to increase its capacity.
“We have installed the siren so we can warn the whole community very quickly in order to give them as much time as possible to take action.
Graham added: “It is important that we test our siren to check that it is working properly and can be triggered remotely from our incident room in Leeds. Although no action needs to be taken during the test, please remember that if you hear the sirens at any other time, then it is warning you of a flood.
“Make sure you know what to do if you hear it for real. Flood water is dangerous, and can contain sewage and other contaminants. Do not put yourself at risk by walking or driving through fast moving flood water. Have a flood plan to keep you and your family safe, and to protect your property and possessions.”
The Wyke Beck siren has been installed to complement the Environment Agency’s free Floodline Warnings Direct service, which sends an automatic message by landline, mobile telephone, email or fax to those who have signed up, telling them when flooding is imminent and what action to take to protect their home or business.
Environment Agency officers will be speaking to residents in the Dunhills Estate on the day to check they can hear the sirens and know what they are used for. They will also be available to speak to, alongside local flood wardens, immediately after the 6pm test.
Resident and chairman of Dunhills Flood Action Group, David Davenport, said: "We know from experience that this beck can rise very quickly. We need the earliest possible warning to protect ourselves and our properties. We will be involved in the siren test to make sure that it can be heard clearly across the estate and to check if residents have any questions or concerns about it. In a real flood, the Environment Agency will, where possible, liaise with the flood wardens before making the decision to sound the siren."
The flood defence scheme at Wyke Beck has now reduced the risk of flooding to 70 properties on the Dunhills estate area of Halton. Work on the scheme started in July 2010 and has cost £500,000, funded by the Yorkshire Regional Flood and Coastal Committee.
While the main parts of the scheme have finished, officers will be returning in autumn to remove vegetation in the upstream section of the Dunhills estate, which will further reduce the risk of flooding by increasing the amount of water the beck can hold.
Sign up to Floodline Warnings Direct
Householders and businesses can check whether they are eligible for Floodline Warnings Direct. If they are, they can sign up on the spot for the free service, as well as finding out more about preparing themselves for flooding.
To find out if your property is at risk of flooding and eligible for Floodline Warnings Direct, call Floodline on 0845 988 1188 or visit the website.