International Spotlight Story: Gloucestershire, United Kingdom

The County of Gloucestershire is located along the River Severn in the South West of England. The county faced immense flooding in 2007 caused by serious rainfall. The ensuing damages reportedly cost £50 million. Since then, Gloucestershire has responded diligently and has developed multiple platforms to inform community members of their flood risk and available solutions.

flood risk map of EnglandA Strategic Flood Risk Assessment was undertaken in the county to show the impact of developing in flood-prone areas. This project comprised of mapping out the flood risk across each of the six districts in Gloucestershire. An interactive map is available to the public on the Gloucestershire County Council’s website; the map identifies 3 different levels of flood risk. Such measures will show homeowners and businesses their flood risk and allow them to plan accordingly. Complementing this map, the UK’s Environment Agency developed an online map that highlights different levels of risk, from “very low” to “high” across England. This allows users to compare their flood risk to other areas in the country. Parts of Gloucestershire are identified as having high risk, especially near the River Severn.

Within the last year, Gloucestershire has worked towards protecting 500 homes from floods by diverting watercourses towards two storage basins that hold up to 23,300m3 of water (Gloucestershire County Council, 2018, Hawes, 2018). Further efforts included adding two earth mounds intended to hold back water from these basins. The project was just completed this October. In addition to this project, the county council offers an online document that advises homeowners on products that protect against flooding, such as air brick covers, water pumps, and flood alarms. This source also offers advice on general household planning such as having loose rugs instead of carpets and purchasing removable appliances. The county council has also prepared a publicly available Flood Guide that shares diverse information on flood preparation and recovery, such as how to prepare a flood plan or how to respond during a flood.

To further involve the community in flood preparedness, Gloucestershire invites its residents to volunteer as flood wardens who’s responsibilities include tasks such as reporting floods, informing residents, and assisting in the coordination of emergency plans. This program adds another layer to the county’s emergency preparations and gives members of the public an opportunity to get involved and build community resilience.

flooded streetGloucestershire’s Local Resilience Forum, a collaboration of numerous agencies such as the Environment Agency, the County Council, and the six district councils, work together to prepare and inform the population on emergencies. Information and links are posted to the Forum’s website: Gloucestershire Prepared (http://glosprepared.co.uk/). This site allows residents to access information  provided by a variety of professionals.

Plenty of flooding information is available to the Gloucestershire public to make positive steps towards flood proofing their homes and contributing to the overall resiliency of Gloucestershire. Efforts from national agencies complement these local initiatives and preparations. The combination of improving structural measures and relaying information to the public shows immense progress for the county and will help to prevent serious damages from occurring in the future.

References:

Environment Agency. (2018, October 25). Long term flood risk map for England. Retrieved October 25, 2018, from https://flood-warning-information.service.gov.uk/long-term-flood-risk/map

Gloucestershire County Council. (2018, February 16). Key progress on scheme to protect vulnerable homes from flooding. Retrieved October 24, 2018, from https://www.gloucestershire.gov.uk/gloucestershire-county-council-news/news-february-2018/key-progress-on-scheme-to-protect-vulnerable-homes-from-flooding/

Hawes, B. (2018, October 31). County homes protected by new £2.78m flood protection scheme | Punchline. Retrieved October 31, 2018, from https://www.punchline-gloucester.com/articles/aanews/county-homes-protected-by-new-flood-protection-scheme

Jenkins, R. (2017, June 27). Work begins to protect vulnerable homes from future flooding. Retrieved October 31, 2018, from https://www.gloucestershirelive.co.uk/news/cheltenham-news/work-begins-protect-vulnerable-homes-140412