Looking through the list of “searched for queries” on this Blog, it is apparent that the welfare and safety of Canvey Islanders is a topic of interest.
It is often brought to my notice that it appears that in the event of an emergency CI residents are unaware of how they should proceed.
There are two main hazards facing the residents of Canvey Island, the hazardous industries represented by the two COMAH sites and flood risk.
Canvey Island has a population of 37,479, previous comment on numbers can be viewed here.
Despite this it appears Castle Point Borough Council has yet to compile a “People at Risk” register.
Canvey is defended from flooding from the Thames estuary by sea defences and residents are reassured these are among the best in the UK and are adequate for the “medium” term. I have been told by people, even councillors, that Canvey will never flood.
Despite this, there remains a possibility of a failure of these defences, a breach, also an increased risk of over-topping as indicated by the 2010 Castle Point Flood Risk Assessment published by Scott Wilson.
Complacency and ill preparation, is an issue.
In the event of an emergency Castle Point Borough Council (CPBC) recognise the improbabilities of a successful evacuation by road.
Certain parts of the access / egress road network are themselves areas liable to flooding and the current level of urbanisation of Canvey Island means that the movement of so many vehicles off the Island would create gridlock.
The emergency policy of CPBC, in case you are unaware, is in the event of an emergency, “go in and stay in.”
Clearly an inadequate policy, but in the circumstances the best they have been able to come up with!
There may have been an opportunity during the 2011 Census to have obtained some local demographics that would provide valuable information during an emergency.
The opportunity was missed to produce a list of vulnerable residents.
The continuing planning applications to replace dwellings with more densely developed new builds, adds to the population at risk. Not only that, but it means those existing residents in need of assistance, should an emergency occur, are less likely to receive the care and assistance they require, simply by the extra population calling upon the limited resources available!
There appears to be a move towards developing more flats on Canvey. Ground floor accommodation is being allowed to increase the numbers housed, under the comfort that there should be provided a refuge area on the upper floors for use during a flood event.
All well and good provided residents are fit and able to reach these refuges in an emergency.
All well and good providing adequate alternative accommodation for the long term re-housing of residents is readily available following flood damage to homes and furnishings!
New developments of flats are adding to the existing properties that must be considered unsuitable in a flood event namely bungalows and caravans!
Information on the number of flood-unsuitable dwellings is unknown, or at least kept secret by CPBC.
Using out of date and unsubstantiated, but reasonable figures, let us consider what sort of number of residents may be considered vulnerable simply through where they are housed.
In 2001 there were 15,490 residential properties on Canvey Island, of which 91% were houses and 9% flats.
45% of flats, 630, were ground floor properties.
30% were bungalows, 4,229 properties.
According to the 2011 Census there was what sounds a highly dubious 1009 caravans recorded in the Borough. We assume all on Canvey Island.
I have no explanation or figure recorded specifically to include or exclude the type of dwelling found at Kings Camp, so no allowance has been made in the “rough” equation made here.
The numbers of ground floor / single storey dwelling for the purpose of this exercise, totals 5,868.
Using a figure of 2 persons per dwelling we could be looking at 11,736 residents in need of a far better emergency plan than “go in and stay in!”
Besides this are a number of people perhaps elderly, disabled or with health issues who would be in need of assistance during an emergency.
Quite clearly up to date accurate figures should be accumulated.
Quite clearly residents should be made aware of how to most effectively act as a community in an emergency.
Quite clearly a list of the most vulnerable residents should be recorded.
Only once these details are known can an effective emergency plan be devised. Until this is achieved is it acceptable that Canvey Island should accept more development?
More development that would add to the existing problems which remain un-addressed.
Something to be pondered over whilst Councillors reflect on the new Local Plan perhaps.
Any Councillor or officer with more accurate figures wishing to make the information available to the public, can do this via the comments facility.
Information supplied by Floodsite and ONS