31 Mar
2015

HBFAG Annual Report

Annual Report 2014/15

Our group was formed in response to the floods locally in June 2012. We formed a small committee and liaised with the Council and other bodies to look at ways that we could be effective in the community in case of further floods.

It was decided that establishing several flood stores and producing a Flood Plan would be the most helpful and relevant action we could take. This would also involve the recruitment of flood wardens and volunteers.

Flood Stores

We identified and obtained funding for 4 sites in Hebden Bridge for flood stores. Two have been installed to date. One has been installed at the back of Hebden Bridge Picture House and the other by ATC (near Woodland View). We will shortly have another container placed at Murts Garage, once a legal agreement has been received. Permissions have been sought and obtained for these installations.

We will be purchasing equipment to be placed in the stores, to be utilised in the event of flooding. The details of contents will be included in the Flood Plan. The stores will contain flood warning signs (to be placed in roads in the event of a flood risk). These are being produced.

It is envisaged that each flood store should have its own local group to manage it and that the flood plan for the area it covers. The bigger stores will be used to keep equipment for shared use.

Flood Plan

A flood plan has been produced for Hebden Bridge, with the assistance of the Environmental Agency and Calderdale Council. It has been put together through consultation with HBFAG (with major input by the Secretary, John Ludlam – for which we are very grateful). The flood plan will be reviewed annuallys, either each February or after a flood event preceding this date. We will check and revise phone numbers and any of the material.

We have a Flood Line quick dial number (in case of flood warnings) and have identified key locations that are more vulnerable to flooding. Maps have been produced to support these areas. We have identified response ‘triggers’ in case of flood – to help elicit the appropriate response and action that should be taken regarding opening flood stores, use of cones in the road (to alert traffic), use of sandbags, checking drains are clear. We have identified the roles and responsibilities of flood wardens and volunteers (and this information has been shared with them).

The Flood Plan outlines the respective roles and responsibilities of various organisations  - e.g. local authorities, HBFAG – in the event of a flood.

Our aim for the flood plan and flood stores is to reduce damage and speed recovery in case of flood. We want to work within the local community and engage them in helping people or properties affected by flooding.

Flood Wardens and Volunteers

We will be holding an induction meeting for volunteers when the stores’ content has been completed. We are recruiting flood wardens and volunteers on an ongoing basis. Flood wardens are supported by the Environmental Agency and will be advised by the Agency in case of flood. We have increased numbers gradually but are still looking for more people to be involved. They are not required to attend meetings.

We have established 4 flood store areas in the town, with volunteers designated for each store. We are considering meeting up with the volunteers for each area on a regular basis once these stores are fully equipped, to discuss any issues and share ideas. We will advise them to meet on a regular basis (e.g. quarterly) as a flood warden group to check store supplies and capability in the event of a flood.

We maintain and advise at all times that wardens and volunteers do not put themselves or others at risk. NB although volunteers’ duties will include placing flood warning signs in the road, they do not have the authority to stop traffic.

Flood Test

We held a couple of flood drills (the last was held in October 2014).These identified possible hazards and potential problems in the event of a real flood. The exercise indicated that self-inflating bags were not appropriate and were ineffectual; bags filled with sand would be much more effective.

Workshops/Outreach

We have worked with Calderdale Council to organise workshops designed to encourage the public to have greater awareness of the nature and risk of flooding – e.g. a small market stall was installed in the town square; this showed flood maps of the area and provided information about flood action projects in the area (e.g. flood defence projects being developed by the Environmental Agency).

A member of the committee has joined The Source; we are also involved with Calder Future River Stewardship and Treeresponsibility; and the currently piloted website Eye on Calderdale will hold information about HBFAG. We are forging closer links with Mytholmroyd Flood Action Group and are now part-affiliated with them (sharing ideas and holding joint meetings), although we will maintain separate stores and volunteers in our respective areas.

Progress

Looking at our progress to date, we can identify our main achievements as

A)Producing a full, concise and useful Flood Plan

B)Planning, identifying suitable locations for, and purchasing flood stores – together with appropriate content.

C)Liaising with Calderdale Council and other statutory bodies, voluntary organisations and other local flood groups (Mytholmroyd and Todmorden); and building up good relations with them, and sharing ideas relating to flood preparation and response.

D)Continuing to maintain a core group, holding regular monthly meetings, and inviting various statutory and voluntary agencies to join with us to share ideas.

E)Liaising with the local residents and offering information and advice where relevant and helping the community forge useful links and support.

Future

We would envisage a future where flood wardens and volunteers would self-manage – holding regular group meetings for their flood store locality  – once the flood stores are operational.

We are considering meeting as a committee less frequently – perhaps on a quarterly basis (rather than monthly), whilst still maintaining links and involvement in local events.

We are looking at ways of offering refreshments in the event of flooding in the area. We are checking out the suitability of local churches, Todmorden food bank, etc.

We are in the process of setting up insurance for the stores and personnel. The premium is high, but as insurance is essential we are going ahead with this.

We aim to continue publicising HBFAG, in order to recruit volunteers and to expand awareness of flood risk and the importance of prevention, response and minimization of flood damage,

As two members have been involved since the group’s inception, they would be happy to stand down, and allow others to take on their roles. We are looking at the appointment of new members to be Secretary and Chair.