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Pledge to “crack” Walcott’s flooding problems

PUBLISHED: 16:22 25 January 2012

The vulnerable village of Walcott has a history of flooding

The vulnerable village of Walcott has a history of flooding

Archant © 2007

Residents in flood risk areas of north Norfolk are being urged to sign up to severe weather alerts to help protect their communities.

The three levels of flood warnings

Flood alert: Water levels are high, roads and low lying land at risk. Floods not expected to reach homes

Flood warning: Most vulnerable properties expected to flood

Severe flood warning: Whole villages are expected to flood, danger to people’s lives

The call comes as community leaders, volunteers and the government’s environmental body have pledged to work together to “crack” the problems of dealing with a deluge in one of the district’s most vulnerable villages.

Walcott has historically suffered from flooding with the most recent case in November 27 last year, when 16 people were evacuated from their homes after high tides washed into the village.

The incident left some confused as to why they had not been alerted to the rising waters through the Environment Agency’s (EA) automated system, and again raised the question of why the county council’s flood sirens were scrapped in 2009.

But when the floods were discussed at a meeting today the EA stressed its system had worked, and some people had not been informed because they were not signed up to all aspects of the system.

EA official David Kemp explained the conditions on November 27 had reached the “flood alert” stage, which means roads and low lying land are at risk. It is the lowest category sitting under “flood warning” and “severe flood warning”.

Speaking at today’s North Norfolk District Council scrutiny meeting Mr Kemp said: “Flood alerts are quite a common occurrence round the coast, the EA issued about 75 in the last year, but that alert only goes out to people who specifically request it.”

Letters were sent to the 49 “at risk” properties in Walcott after November 27 encouraging them to sign up to alerts, but Mr Kemp stressed the system was available to anyone.

Walcott residents, along with members of the scrutiny committee, asked how the procedure for dealing with flooding could be improved after the confusion of November 27.

Mr Kemp said after the November incident the EA was talking more to members of WEVA - the Walcott Emergency Volunteer Association who made the decision to evacuate last year - and looking at ways of boosting communications, but ultimately there needed to be more joined up working to tackle flooding.

“We’re working quite high up the chain on some of the forecasting measures and looking to give Walcott a flood alert of its own rather than being part of the bigger flood alert group,” he added.

“It’s about everybody working together to improve, I don’t think any one group can solve this on their own.”

Speaking afterwards Jan Deakin, Walcott parish council chairman, said the meeting had aimed to find solutions to keeping residents informed and work would now be done to ensure they were prepared for future floods.

She said: “The EA, the parish council and WEVA are working together now to inform people to the best possible extent of any possible danger.”

● To sign up for flood alerts call 0845 9881188.

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