The recent rainfall in late August caused serious concerns for households on Canvey Island. The following Cabinet meeting should have given answers to the residents as to what went wrong with the drainage and why they were left to fend for themselves. Only being assisted in the very worse cases by the Emergency Services.
I had hoped to hear specific answers to:-
1. The EA digital alert system (email, text + telephone etc) failed to operate on it’s first “live” event.
Fortunately this was a surface water flooding event rather than from a more critical sea water flood event.
2. The “reported” failure of the EA’s own digital alert system to inform them that one of the pump filters had blocked, leading to claims that a back up computer system should be installed.
Can it be clarified whether this occured or was mis-reported.
3. Is it possible to confirm the validity of the report that the Canvey Island flood water storage facility at Thorney Bay is, or isn’t, sufficient to cope with a future similar rainfall event, regardless of whether the pump situated on site is performing efficiently?
4. There were reports that the Island’s pump filters became blocked with debris causing the pumps to be halted for periods of time whilst operators cleared the blokages.
At Cabinet, Castle Point indicated that the Essex County Council as Lead Flood Authority, having responded to the floods, were asking of the various agencies, including Castle Point Council, involved in responding to the event:-
(1) What was your authorities overall response to flooding on Saturday 24th August (before and during)?
(2) Did your authority exercise any specific flood risk management functions (as listed in Section 4 of the Food and Water Management Act 2010) in response to this incident?
(3) How are the general public advised to get in touch with your authority during an incident?
(4) What is the process/procedure/standard for your authority in recording and responding to flood incidents?
(5) How were any assets under your authority’s ownership/responsibility operating during the incident of 24th August?
(6) How many enquiries did your authority receive in response to this incident?
(7) How many reports of internal property flooding are your authority able to confirm?
(8) Any further information or comments you think would be beneficial to the report
On being questioned the CPBC Chief Executive claimed that the Emergency procedures had worked well and arrangements were made to open the Paddocks and Waterside Farm Sport Centre as places of Refuge should they be required.
However the fact that residents were unaware of this facility calls into question the value and success of the Emergency procedure.
In the event the Pumping and drainage systems failed to cope with the rainfall. There are two points to note, these events whilst considered to be between the 1 in 35 year and 1 in 100 year events, are expected to become more frequent. Secondly in the event of a flood from failure of the sea defences, it is likely that the weather would be equally, or more atrocious, with far more debris likely to block or damage the drainage pumps.
Residents received no official assistance from the Council during the flooding they were left to fend for themselves with only the support of other residents. During these austere times that may be considered fair enough for the less vulnerable, however residents are entitled to feel that access to sand bags and sand should be made available so that they can support themselves.
It is worth remembering that the Borough Council is not some remote Agency, it is an organisation funded by residents and supposedly represented by residents on the residents behalf. In other words the Council is Us and Ours and should be organised and run as such!
Too much emphasis is placed on producing reports. Reports will not prevent crises nor will they support residents suffering damage to property and possibly danger to themselves.
Too often it appears to residents these reports are commissioned in the hope that they will provide evidence to support more development on the Island.
My question is, is it wise to develop more of Canvey’s green space, space that absorbed the excess rainfall leaving the surrounding areas of housing more able to cope with flood water?
In the months following we will learn how responsible our Borough Councillors and Officers are willing to be, when they announce areas of land supposedly suitable for development. Will caution outweigh the political pressures or will little regard be given to the plight of the residents who had water enter their properties?
Castle Point Council Meeting September 2013.
Councillor Sheldon has given notice of the following:
As part of the response to Sir Michael Pitts’ report on the Review of the
Summer Floods of 2007, with effect from 1st April 2014 Essex County
Council as the lead flood authority will become responsible for approving
all future construction work which has surface water implications.
This Council welcomes this measure and in anticipation of the 1st April,
moves that Essex County Council be consulted as the lead flood authority
on all planning application on sites over one hectare on surface water
drainage issues as a quasi-formal consultee.
Note the date of a) the Cabinet meeting, September 2013 and the date of the Pitt Report, 2007!
With well over 50% of Castle Point being in a flood sensitive area only now is due consideration and weight being given to the Pitt Review.