Bid to tackle flooding woes

Faster ways of identifying freak storms are being investigated to lessen the impact of floods such as those that devastated Yarmouth last month.

Faster ways of identifying freak storms are being investigated to lessen the impact of floods such as those that devastated Yarmouth last month.

The need to trigger an emergency response more quickly emerged from a meeting of every agency involved in that incident, including Anglian Water, Norfolk police, Norfolk fire service, the Environment Agency and Yarmouth Borough Council.

Tuesday's meeting at the town hall heard that the torrential rain was a once-in-a-100-year event, with 4in falling in just six hours.

The country's sewerage system is built to deal with a one-in-a-30 year return, so nowhere in Britain could have coped.

Anglian Water's figures show that 130 properties throughout the borough were flooded internally, with 400 experiencing external flooding.

Council leader Barry Coleman said: “We saw from what the agencies told us that, on the day, the situation was handled well but there are always lessons to be learned.

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“We know that all the agencies need to liaise more to give out a united message, which will help the public and the media to keep up-to-date with what is happening and where to go for help.

“We are also looking at ways technology can be used to help give more warning if a similar situation should occur. The weather forecasts didn't, and probably couldn't, predict the severity of the rain.

“But we have learned from Anglian Water that although it is not possible to monitor the amount flowing through its sewerage system, the company can obtain readings from its pumping stations that could indicate that a heavier than usual call is being made on them.”

He said the fire service had compiled a list based on calls received that pinpointed the areas worst affected - this would be used as a database for all agencies to help in future incidents.

He said: “We know that there is a civil emergency plan at county and national level. A public meeting of the Yarmouth Civil Contingency Working Group on October 13 will look at the plan and discuss how it can be modified for local use.”