Community resilience: helping communities help themselves
Hampshire, along with many other areas of the country, experienced the worst flooding in recent history. The County Council would like to thank communities for their patience and support both during the flooding and throughout the recovery phase.
With the help of other agencies including the Armed Forces and their Reservists, district and borough councils, the Environment Agency, local community groups, Police and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service we were able to keep the highways moving as best we could, and where the waters threatened to cut off transport routes, we worked with our contractors to build temporary elevated roads in Winchester and Litchfield.
We take a look at the aftermath of the floods, examining how communities can help to make themselves more resilient for the future, and looking at what is being done to repair Hampshire’s roads.
Make a plan
The winter rains have long gone but it is never too early to make plans to protect your own home for the future and to see how you can help your community in an emergency.
No one organisation has sole responsibility for all aspects of flooding, that is why our Emergency Planning Unit works closely with district and borough councils, emergency services, health authorities and other statutory agencies to ensure that Hampshire can respond in emergency situations which are beyond the capacity of the emergency services to tackle alone.
However, everyone has a role to play, and while many communities do already help one another in times of need, experience has shown that those who have spent time planning and making preparations for emergencies are better able to cope and recover more quickly.
Our Emergency Planning Unit is here to support your efforts to devise a local action plan, and help your area become more resilient and prepared for out-of-the-ordinary situations like flooding.
The value of planning at community level cannot be under-estimated, something which Steve Protheroe, Chairman of Finchdean and Rowlands Castle Flood Action Group knows only too well.
“Everyone pulled together,” said Steve. The community was affected by flooding in the winter of 2012/13 and knew the importance of having a plan in place. With the support of our Emergency Planning Unit they reviewed their plan, made some changes, set up an email alert system and mapped possible vulnerable points.
“If you haven’t got an action group in place then get one,” said Steve. “It makes such a difference. As local people you know the problems in your area and you are best placed to understand and anticipate them, and how best to solve them.”
During the flooding this winter, the community was called into action doing anything from washing towels and making cups of tea, to organising more specialist help from builders, electricians and carpenters. “We tried where possible to be as self-sufficient as we could, only contacting agencies such as East Hampshire District Council or the County Council if there was a real problem. We realised there were many areas affected by the folds and some much worse then we were.
“Having a plan in place made it easier for those agencies to support us. We had just one point of contact for them which helped them coordinate their support and response to us. Everyone rose to the challenge really well. We had superb support from the Police, East Hampshire District Council and the County Council’s Emergency Planning Unit and Highways Team. We were always on their radar which gave us confidence to deal with things ourselves.”
What can your community do?
- Identify local risks, resources and vulnerable groups
- Initiate a crisis management group to provide a point of contact and determine priorities and represent the community
- Use local resources to help in the response, by providing support to emergency services
- Help those who are vulnerable by providing care, support, information or practical help
- Maintain communications within the community, and with your district or borough council
- Manage the response of community and other voluntary organisations
- Assist with community recovery
- Stockpile sandbags or know where to get them
- Encourage landowners to keep ditches and waterways clear.
Information about becoming a Reservist, and the range of activities and projects the Armed Forces and Reservists support, in both the UK and abroad
Repairing Hampshire’s roads
In the aftermath of the wettest winter on record, we are undertaking a massive programme of repair to the worst of the damage on Hampshire’s highways.
The sustained wet weather, plus the impact of flooded roads, underwater for long periods of time, has meant that the planned maintenance programme for the year has needed to be reprioritised.
The full extent of the damage to Hampshire’s 5,280 miles of road caused by the winter weather, only became known once all the waters had subsided. We have tackled the worst flood affected areas first, concentrating our repair efforts on emergency defects and safety work.
You may have seen the ‘Pothole Buster’ signs on Hampshire roads, as 80 ‘gangs’ of workers – 60% more than usual – have been tackling emergency repairs, deploying extra equipment which has been brought in, such as jetpatcher machines, to make effective and speedy repairs to potholes on our roads.
In addition to day-to-day maintenance, there are locations where extensive planned structural maintenance repair work is needed, for example in areas particularly damaged. There are also sites where drainage improvements are needed to avoid future flooding of the road.
The repair bill is likely to be around £36 million, and this may rise to take account of damage to river bridges and structures. The cost does not include flood alleviation schemes which are needed in some areas.
Hampshire has initially been allocated £11.5 million by the Government to repair structural damage to roads. However, with our repair bill likely to rise further, it will be a challenge to get our roads back to the condition they were in before the flooding. Keeping Hampshire moving remains one of our priorities.