Hampshire Now - your County Council magazine

Floods: counting the cost of keeping people, property and highways safe

Monday, 07 April 2014

Sixty eight and a half million pounds - that's the estimated potential cost to Hampshire County Council of its response and recovery operation in the aftermath of this winter's flooding.

The impact of the most significant rainfall for 250 years and the scale of the measures taken to protect life and property are in a report to be discussed by the Council's Cabinet on 14 April 2014.

The longer term capital costs of remedial work to damaged highways, at more than 300 locations and flood and coastal defence works, to avoid future flooding in badly affected areas, is estimated to be about £63M. The cost of the emergency response including sandbagging, tree clearing and clean-up costs, adds up to a further £5million.

The multi-agency response, overseen by the Local Resilience Forum in Hampshire, has been praised by Government for the way agencies worked together and for the outcomes that were achieved in very difficult circumstances. A major part of the County Council's contribution was keeping highways safe and open. This included:

  • 100 council staff and 200 contractors on deployment around the clock, putting in place preventative and mitigation measures
  • 354 weeks, or 13,127 hours of highways' staff's time spend on responding to and dealing with the aftermath
  • 1,000 fallen trees removed from roads
  • 22,000 reports and requests for help from the public over the two months, more than three times the average.
  • 160 tonnes of crushed concrete used to build a temporary elevated road at Andover Road, Winchester in just 72 hours
  • 80 investigations into floods, with engineering advice, temporary schemes and water diversions and advice to property owners and businesses to protect their homes and possessions
  • 33 detailed bids for funding to the Environment Agency's Regional Flood and Coastal Committee for future flood risk management researched and prepared
  • Over 70,000 sandbags deployed on highways across the county

The detailed report from the Director of Economy, Transport and Environment and the Head of Finance, outlines the huge multi-agency efforts in a number of areas that suffered the worst of the flooding and the emerging financial consequences. Very different scenarios existed, requiring different types of response - from a violent coastal storm in Milford on Sea, to high groundwater levels flooding properties, overwhelming the sewers in Basingstoke and Test Valley, to river flooding threatening properties in Winchester, Romsey and Fordingbridge.

Work with district councils to evacuate properties and set up rest centres, checks on vulnerable residents by social services and the distribution of Public Health advice around issues such as contaminated water are highlighted. The report also refers to the recycling or disposal of a high volume of wood panels, fencing and other storm damaged materials and the work to help people dispose of their sandbags.

It is anticipated that the Council will be making a Bellwin claim to the Government for between £3.5million to £4.5million, for the cost of the emergency response. An £11.5million grant for highways works has been received from Government, which is about a third of the estimated cost of repairs to damaged highways.

Council Leader Roy Perry said the Council would continue its representations to Government for more money. He said: "Getting £11.5million is a really helpful first- step from Government and we'll be bidding for more resources, bearing in mind we estimate that another £25million, or more, is needed to fix damaged roads alone.

"We are committed to continuing to fund an enhanced maintenance programme to improve the resilience of our 5,000 miles of roads, which, together with resources we are planning to spend in the recent budget, is testimony to the importance we attach to investing in Hampshire.

"I am conscious also that a lot of businesses in Hampshire have suffered and we have been exploring what help there is available in that respect, as well as for individual householders. We will certainly be making that advice available.

"I have already had a face-to-face meeting with Brandon Lewis the Local Government Minister and we are planning a further meeting with Minister Dan Rogerson, also at the Department of Communities and Local Government - to press Hampshire's case.

"Additionally, we've had a very positive and useful meeting of the Hampshire Partnership attended by District Leaders, Fire and Rescue, Police and the Army - where we discussed lessons learned so far. Hampshire Fire and Rescue is leading the de-brief to capture those learning points to inform future flood mitigation measures and emergency responses. We also await Government's announcement on its long-term plans for future flood investment.

"What's difficult to capture, in monetary terms, is the amount of effort put in by frontline staff from all agencies and those who went above and beyond their roles to respond to the emergencies. In recognition of those efforts, the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire Dame Mary Fagan and I, will be hosting an event after Easter. We also intend to find an appropriate way to express the county's thanks to the volunteers who were the 'saints and saviours' of flooding within Hampshire and played a tremendous part in supporting their neighbours."

« News Calendar