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The Dragon Says: Flood Review? Here Is Our 10-Point Plan

Published on: 9 Jan, 2014
Updated on: 9 Jan, 2014

The Dragon Says: Flood Review? Here Is Our 10-Point Plan

Dragon Says 470So Guildford Borough Council (GBC) is to review its flood management. Whether it was because of the call from The Dragon in previous opinion pieces who knows? But we were, the first to say so.

Of course, it was the obvious thing to do. But things that seem obviously right are not always done and the council should be commended for clearly stating its intention so quickly.

And of course, the councillors are right to say we should wait until the current flooding risk is past. We have more unsettled weather to come and further episodes might reveal other weaknesses.

flood alertGBC is also doing the right thing by scrutinising the review in meetings open to the public. Maybe some of those who suffered in the floods will want to go and give their views. They should be given that opportunity by a council that espouses openness and wishes to promote more engagement with local democracy.

But, as some councillors have pointed out, we should also remember that many parts of the relief operation did go well due to the hard work and dedication of many council officers and staff. They deserve the town’s and the whole borough’s thanks.

Many affected residents were evacuated quickly and accommodated in rest centres, set up speedily. Sand bags were filled and distributed by a team working well into the evening on Christmas Eve – the one evening of the year, probably above all, when most of us would prefer not to work.

Some have commented that flooding is inevitable from time to time. It is. Others that it was an Act of God. Perhaps. But neither should mean we simply shrug our shoulders and give up. Improvements can be made and new, or existing, technologies, methods of communication, equipment and materials utilised.

Opinion Logo 2So, of course, it is right and proper to concentrate on the areas of systems that did not work well and think of new ideas. Here are our top 10 suggestions, based on what was observed:

  1. Use megaphones and tannoys to alert people in the town, especially those who might have parked in flooding car parks and homeowners in the high risk streets, to return to their cars or homes and take precautionary action.
  2. Make sure that emergency numbers are distributed to all emergency/advice services and local media and residents’ associations so that the different numbers that should be called for various types of assistance is well known. All parties should be expected to help with publicity.
  3. Issue regular press releases and have a properly communicated, on call or on duty, press office roster.
  4. With the Environment Agency, consider local improvements to the flood alert/warning system. Fully utilise advice from those who are most familiar with the river e.g. local boatmen and the NT lengthsmen. Accept that if alerts are to be given sooner not all will materialise into significant flooding.
  5. Lobby Parliament (presuming this would require legislative change) for changes to building regulations for buildings in flood-affected areas so that as  buildings are constructed, or existing buildings refurbished, they are made as flood resistant as possible and have electrical circuits set at higher levels and isolated between floors.
  6. While it must be accepted that flooding will occur from time to time, consider the possibility of further flood prevention engineering measures.
  7. Consider some civic recognition for those who gave exceptional service to assist those who suffered in the floods or to lesson the impact of the flooding.
  8. Install a webcam to allow web casting of the river at Millmead. This would allow everyone to see the current river level and react accordingly.
  9. Encourage the formulation of flood plans or check-lists, based on experience, so that, even at household level, residents know what to do when as soon as an alert is given. Copies should be lodged with the council and given to new occupants as they move into affected premises.
  10. Re-issue flood advice letters, in line with advice currently on the GBC website, to each high risk address, annually in the autumn, reminding occupants of the advisability of drawing up flood plans for their premises.

What is your view? Did you suffer in the foods? Do you have other suggestions or a comment on ours? Please use the ‘Leave a Reply’ feature below to have your say.

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Responses to The Dragon Says: Flood Review? Here Is Our 10-Point Plan

  1. Martin Elliott Reply

    January 9, 2014 at 8:31 pm

    I’m sorry, but where is the review and analysis to show that these remedial measures are the ten most important changes required, rather than a list brainstormed down the pub.

    Did you actually review the existing Emergency Plan (November 2013) and Strategic Review Flood for Guildford and their application to this years flooding and Planning decisions, and recent local flooding in 1968, 2000, 2005, 2006.

    • Martin Giles Reply

      January 10, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      This was an opinion piece based on our close observations of what actually happened. (Sadly, no time in the pub involved. If only.)

      The ten points are suggestions, which we stand by, to be considered in the council’s review which is the proper place for the level of analysis and research you mention. But I can tell you that some of them, if not all, have already been well received by some at Guildford Borough Council.

  2. Brian Holt Reply

    January 11, 2014 at 12:20 pm

    A quick way of letting everyone know about a flood warning would be a siren. The whole town would hear it, and it would give people plenty of time to move Cars, furniture etc.

    It would only take one person a few minutes to give the warning, and the ideal place for it would be at the council offices in Millmead, by the river and in the town.

    This would save the time of many people going around giving flood warnings.

  3. Sean Jenkinson Reply

    January 11, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    Maybe the answer is that if there is a real chance of certain car parks flooding at any point just close them and stop people parking there in the first place. I would rather spend more time looking for a parking place rather than have my car flooded.

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