April 24 2014 Latest news:
Sunday, December 8, 2013
A councillor has called for a group to be set up to keep Wisbech’s residents better informed of environmental incidents after the town narrowly escaped being flooded last night.
Hundreds of people gathered around Freedom Bridge and the Boathouse as the Nene came within inches of breaching the flood defences.
Fenland District Councillor Virginia Bucknor praised the response of the Environmental Agency staff, police and fire service to the flooding threat.
But she says she received numerous calls from concerned residents who did not know whether to move furniture or flee their homes.
This prompted Cllr Bucknor and her husband Michael to go door to door in Osborne Road and the Park Homes to keep residents informed about the precarious situation.
She said: “There was a lot of Environmental Agency staff, fire service and police doing a good job and the gates held.
“However, if the water had gone just a little higher there would have been people running to escape the water meeting the almost standstill traffic on the roads around.
“The Environmental Agency had telephoned people in the flood risk areas but people then had to rely on TV and radio and of course there was nothing about Wisbech. The Environmental Agency website also became jammed.”
Cllr Bucknor, in a letter to Council Leader Alan Melton, has proposed the formation of a group in Wisbech which would send out flooding updates, so residents would not have to rely on potentially unreliable information.
She said: “There were quite a lot of people on Facebook writing quite scary pieces not possibly realising what effect this could have.
“So we need a central place where people can get information quickly and reliably.
“The Facebook site Wisbech Oh Dear was very active because people were crying out for information so they could take action if necessary.
“We could easily set up a Facebook site called Wisbech Flood Information which would only be used when needed.
“It would not need to be big or cumbersome because we don’t know when a flood will next strike. It might be 10 years or two weeks.
“It would require a 24/7 rota and it would need to be based somewhere safe in Wisbech, not at Fenland Hall.”
Ahead of the storm, Fenland District Council issued a flood warning.
The Environment Agency closed the Wisbech flood gates yesterday afternoon and Cambridgeshire County Council’s Highways department sand bagged the gullies and manhole covers within the Quay area to prevent water coming up through the drains.
Fenland District Council is liaising closely with the Environment Agency and Cambridgeshire County Council to monitor the situation.
Any residents worried about flooding in their area should call Floodline on 0845 988 1188 or visit the Environment Agency’s website, www.environment-agency.gov.uk, or Fenland District Council’s website, www.fenland.gov.uk
Detailed advice on flooding can be found on Fenland District Council’s website at www.fenland.gov.uk/article/3979/
Cllr Melton said Mrs Bucknor had raise an important issue which would be considered.