Protecting Hampshire in the floods - working together to do everything possible
Wednesday 12 February 2014
Hampshire's co-ordinated plans, preparations and around-the-clock emergency responses have been top of the agenda as the county continues to feels the force of the heaviest rain in 200 years, with more to come.
At a top-level briefing on the flooding issues in Hampshire, leading organisations including Police, Fire, Environment Agency and County Council briefed councillors on the collective efforts of partners across the county
Across Hampshire more than 90 communities are currently affected by serious flooding. Over 60 properties are flooded and around 30 roads have had to be closed for safety reasons, and another 100 are 'passable with care'.
Yesterday Leader of Hampshire County Council, Councillor Roy Perry applauded the strong community spirit that has seen hundreds of local volunteers turn out in force to help protect local areas vulnerable to flooding. The importance of such community resilience was one of the key themes to emerge from today's briefing. Hambledon was cited as a very good example of where the community is helped to use their own resources and expertise in order to help themselves, and in a way that complements the response of the emergency services.
Sandbagging, water diversion tactics, assistance with salvage operations, the use of private pumps to protect homes, and key community buildings were highlighted as some of the ways communities were helping themselves to recover more quickly.
Councillor Perry said: "Councillors met the Chief Constable, the Chief Fire Officer, and the Environment Agency to confirm that everything that can be done is being done, and that we are all using our collective resources and expertise in a way that ensures Hampshire residents are protected, and kept as safe as possible.
"Effective partnership working and cooperation is important at any time, but particularly so during times of emergency. No one agency has sole responsibility for all aspects of flooding and this is why we need to work closely together to ensure that resource is carefully managed and prioritised to where it is needed the most."
Significant additional national investment in flood relief schemes as well as landowners' vigilant maintenance of ditches and water courses were also required, said Councillor Séan Woodward, the County Council's Executive Member for Economy, Transport and Environment.
Cllr Woodward is calling on Government for stability in flood defence funding, adding; "we also want assistance towards the cost of repairing infrastructure. The £2 million required for road repairs this winter alone is a huge amount of money when you consider that by the end of this Parliament, we have lost over half our Government funding."
"Adverse weather highlights the fragility of the highways network that we all rely on to transport essential fuel and supplies, get people to work, enable services to stay open and public transport continue, all to keep Hampshire moving, which is a critical aspect of community resilience."
Chief Constable Andy Marsh said: "We would like to thank the communities of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight for working together to look after the vulnerable and elderly during these exceptional circumstances. Safer Neighbourhoods Teams will continue to work with the communities and other public service agencies to provide reassurance and offer any assistance whatsoever. We are all in this together, and by working together we will get through it."
Chief Fire Officer John Bonney said: "We will continue to be there for our community, laying sandbags, providing reassurance and comfort for people .
"We will carry out salvage work for those affected by flood water where necessary. We will put our resources where they will provide most value for people. While there is no statutory duty, of course fire and rescue services will always use their general powers and resources to help prevent and mitigate flood risk."