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Working groups help coordinate flooding response

Published 3 March 2020

After the recent storms Ciara, Dennis and Jorge, the Environment Agency has issued several flood warnings in Wiltshire, indicating an increased risk of both groundwater and river flooding. To ensure people are prepared, they should sign up for Environment Agency river and groundwater flood warnings.

To help reduce the risks associated with flooding, the council has two operational flood working groups, one in the north of the county and one in the south, to mirror the river catchment areas operated by the Environment Agency.

These groups meet bi-monthly in each area and offer a forum for partners, including Wessex Water, Thames Water, Highways England, Network Rail and the Environment Agency, to coordinate a focused and efficient response to surface water issues, run off, drainage and flooding problems, improving resilience and enabling resources and funding to be targeted effectively.

The council also works closely with town and parish councils and volunteer flood wardens in these communities to help mitigate against flooding, create flood plans, and ensure they are ready to respond to flooding if and when it occurs in their parish.

Flood plans are available from town and parish councils, and detail areas of risk and the community's response to any potential flooding in their area. Many flood wardens also have access to a range of flood prevention measures, such as sandbags and pumps.

Cllr Bridget Wayman, Cabinet Member for Highways, Transport and Waste, said: We work closely with partners, including the Environment Agency, through our operational flood working groups to plan and mitigate against the risk of flooding in our communities.

With further heavy rainfall during the remainder of this winter, the Environment Agency may issue further flood alerts across the county, and anyone in a river or groundwater flood risk area should be aware of an increased risk of flooding in Wiltshire this winter.

To prepare, people should know what to do in the event of groundwater or river flooding, sign up for Environment Agency flood alerts, and also speaking to their local flood warden at their town or parish council to find out more about their area's flood plan.

To help its partners in other flood-hit areas of the country, Wiltshire Council has also agreed that some of its contracted Ringway staff and equipment could be dispatched to Worcestershire to help with flood issues in the county.

Cllr Wayman said: We have all seen the images of unprecedented flooding in Worcestershire, and we felt that their need is so great that we would help them in any way we can. In the first instance, we have sent a single gully tanker to help with the clean-up operation, but working in partnership with Ringway, we may send further people and equipment in the next week.

Wiltshire residents can be assured that any equipment or staff we send to Worcestershire to help will not have a detrimental effect on our own response to any flooding incidents throughout the county.

Nick Goddard, Regional Director for Ringway in Wiltshire and Worcestershire, said: This is a great example of cross-county collaboration and mutual aid, demonstrating the resilience of Ringway in its ability to deliver emergency highway services. Working in partnership with Wiltshire Council, we were able to release a number of highly skilled resources, considerably increasing the flood emergency fleet available in Worcestershire. This also meant that we could utilise high capacity operational equipment from Hertfordshire, as well as Wiltshire.  I would like to thank our dedicated teams, who have worked around the clock to keep local communities connected and mobile during these extreme weather events.

Find out more about the council's two operational flood working groups, the north and south groups, including dates and venues of the next meetings.

Find out how to plan ahead for flooding, what to do and the latest flood alerts and warnings.

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Published 3 March 2020