Helping communities be flood resilient

31 Aug 2017

The Environment Agency has appointed a new team of engagement officers to help communities be more resilient to flooding in the North East.

The £280,000 a year project includes four new engagement officers spread across four areas – Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Durham and Darlington, and Cleveland.

Funded by the Northumbria Regional Flood and Coastal Committee (NRFCC) for the next four years, the officers are working alongside partner organisations to help support communities.

It includes helping businesses and residents to understand their risk of flooding and ensuring those in flood risk areas are signed up to receive free flood warnings.

They’re also helping communities prepare themselves for flooding, such as supporting them to develop community flood plans and recruit volunteer Flood Wardens in at risk communities.

The Community Engagement Officers are working on behalf of the Environment Agency and local authority partners.

As well as supporting residents and businesses, working alongside schools will play a key role in helping future generations understand their risk.

Phil Taylor, from the Environment Agency’s Flood Resilience Team in the North East, said: “We’ve seen over the last few years alone just how devastating flooding can be for communities, so it’s positive news that Northumbria RFCC has agreed to fund these dedicated officers to provide direct support to communities.

“In areas where the Environment Agency’s free Flood Warning Service is available the officers will be working to increase sign up to the service.

“They’ll also be helping develop community flood plans that will detail the action each community or business can take to reduce the impact of flooding, and help them return to normal life as soon as possible should a flood happen.

“And working with schools and youth groups means children can be educated about what it means to be flood resilient and ensure the messages delivered through the project have long-term impact in flood risk areas for years to come.”

In Northumberland, Emma Craig is the new Community Engagement Officer. Emma is working on behalf of the Environment Agency and Northumberland County Council to increase flood resilience in areas at risk of flooding.

Over 300 properties were flooded in Storm Desmond in 2015 but there are over 3,000 properties at risk of fluvial flooding in the county. Sign up to receive alerts and warnings in areas where the free Flood Warning Service is available is around 60%.

There are also around 17,000 properties at risk from surface water flooding.

Emma said: “Many communities in Northumberland have created plans and taken action to make themselves more resilient after experiencing significant flooding during Storm Desmond.

“I’ll be continuing to work in the communities which were affected as well as other areas in Northumberland that remain at risk of flooding.”

You can contact Emma at emma.craig@environment-agency.gov.uk or 0208 474 9845.

To find out more about your local flood risk and sign up to the Flood Warning Service visit www.gov.uk/check-flood-risk.