Flooding: Councils playing pivotal role in supporting communities

LGA press release 13 January 2017

Councils are playing a pivotal role in supporting communities – as widespread flooding is expected to hit the nation this weekend.

Severe flood warnings are in place on the eastern coast of England amid fears thousands of homes are at risk, as snow and strong winds hit much of the UK.

The Environment Agency, which says high tides and strong winds could lead to flooding, has issued severe flood warnings.

Evacuations are already under way in Jaywick, Mistley and Mersea , Essex, and Great Yarmouth, Norfolk. Meanwhile, snow, ice and high winds have affected much of the UK, causing travel problems and schools closures in some areas.

Councils have been organising rest centres for possible evacuations; helping to move livestock to higher ground; setting up public information centres and running awareness campaigns to highlight the dangers of flooding, which can wreak havoc across communities in just minutes.

Meanwhile, the LGA's annual Winter Readiness Survey shows that councils are well prepared for the possibility of snow and plummeting temperatures over the weekend with a substantial stock of grit.

Councils have stockpiled 1.2 million tonnes of salt to prepare for winter. About half are at the limit of storage capacity. Gritters will be out treating thousands of miles of roads whenever overnight temperatures drop below zero in the coming days.

The survey also shows more than 80 per cent of councils have placed community grit bins for residents to access salt for pavements and side streets and 75 per cent are using state-of-the-art GPS technology on the gritting fleets.

Social media will also continue to be an important tool for councils communicating with residents with 97 per cent of councils using Twitter accounts to keep people up-to-date with weather forecasts, road conditions and gritting activity.

Cllr Martin Tett, LGA Environment spokesman, said:

"Councils are fully prepared to support their communities with widespread flooding possible this weekend.

"Council teams are ready to be drafted in to help provide a variety of services to ensure we are looking out for the more vulnerable members of our communities this winter, from carrying out emergency household repairs to delivering hot meals and portable heaters.

"But council staff can't be everywhere. They rely on community-spirited residents to look out for each other. Just a quick knock on the door of an elderly neighbour who's perhaps too proud or unable to ask for help can make all the difference. They may just need an extra blanket getting down from the loft or perhaps they didn't get out to collect their medicine this week. It takes no time to check in but could potentially save lives.

"Local authorities will be constantly updating websites with information on weather, gritting routes, road conditions, school closures and bin collections, and many councils also have Twitter feeds and Facebook pages detailing the latest developments."

Case studies

Tendring district Council, Essex

A rest centre has been established by Tendring District Council. The centre will be ready to receive residents evacuating their homes in Jaywick.

North Lincolnshire

North Lincolnshire Council is working with emergency services and has set up a helpline for advice and information. The council has been in touch with local farmers and arranged for livestock to be moved to higher ground.

Grimsby

The council has been offering pre-prepared grab bags for drivers heading out on long gritting runs on the region's roads.

 

13 January 2017

Matthew Cooper

Senior Media Relations Officer

Direct line: 0207 664 3007