COUNCIL’S CABINET TO CONSIDER REPORT INTO TIDAL SURGE
Members of East Riding of Yorkshire Council’s Cabinet will be asked to recommend for publication the authority’s Flood Investigation Report into the tidal surge of 5 December 2013 at their meeting on Tuesday 24 June.
The council is the Lead Local Flood Authority as defined by the Flood and Water Management Act (2010) and as such conducted an investigation into the flood incident which involved significant flooding at various locations including Bridlington, Skipsea, Hornsea, Tunstall, Easington, Kilnsea, Paull, Hessle, North Ferriby, Faxfleet, Blacktoft, Yokefleet, Saltmarshe, Skelton, Old Goole, and Reedness.
The water level at the Hull tidal barrier reached a record level, peaking only 400mm below the top of the barrier. In the East Riding, some 300 properties (69 commercial and 231 residential) were directly affected by flooding. An estimated total of 600 acres (or 2432 hectares) of agricultural land also flooded.
The council participated in the multi-agency Gold Command response during the flooding, and set up a Silver Command at County Hall in Beverley to co-ordinate the council’s response. Staff were stationed in vulnerable areas which meant that thousands of sandbags were deployed and roads closed where necessary for safety. The council’s new emergency pumps were also used to remove flood waters, transport provision mobilised, and rest centres were set up in preparation.
The report concludes that the flooding was generally caused by overtopping of defences rather than breaching defences, and that the damage – although extensive- would have been far worse if the existing defences had not been in place or if the tidal surge had coincided more closely with the high tide. It concludes that the overriding cause was the combination of the high spring tide and the storm surge, leading to exceptionally high water levels.
The council’s report, by law, must investigate which risk management authorities have relevant flood risk management functions and whether those authorities exercised those functions in response to flood. This includes an examination of the council’s own performance in responding to the flood situation.
The report concludes that the council and the emergency services performed well during what was an exceptional event. The report also makes several recommendations to improve flood resilience across the East Riding, including:
- The Environment Agency (EA) should consider a thorough review of their Flood Warning procedure and tidal warning and prediction systems to identify possible improvements to the timeliness of warnings
- The EA should be encouraged to progress their review of the Humber Strategy as a matter of urgency. The Council agrees to support the EA in this.
- The EA should launch a publicity campaign to inform the public of the significance of the Flood Warning procedure and the warnings themselves, and the measures which people can take to protect themselves.
- Parish councils in all affected areas should consider preparing or reviewing and updating a Local Emergency Plan.
- All property owners in the affected area should be encouraged to develop a property flood plan to be implemented after any flood warning.
- Property level protection should be considered for vulnerable properties.
Councillor Symon Fraser, portfolio holder for environment, housing and planning, added: “The event on 5 December, which had a massive impact on a significant number of East Riding residents, illustrated how important it is for the Environment Agency and the government to focus on the genuine needs of those communities at risk from forces of nature which are global and increasingly threatening.”
Councillor Chris Matthews, portfolio holder for infrastructure, highways and emergency planning, said:” I am delighted that this report praises the highly successful multi-agency approach adopted in December. Everybody worked together very well indeed, and it was clear that dialogue between the agencies has greatly improved in recent years. I was hugely impressed by the quick and professional response of our superb staff, especially as much of the work was needed overnight”