Updated – We should plan for an emergency before we have it – that means Ludlow residents must be the first response in flood protection

Update – 10 January 2016

Viv Parry and I had a site meeting on Saturday. We agreed to look at getting a lock up bunker made in the style of the Ludlow in Bloom boxes with perhaps some trellis at the back. We’ll have a look at the feasibility of this. If it looks a viable idea, we’ll talk to all the residents on Lower Corve Street before doing anything.

We have also met with highways officers. We have made it clear that we don’t people to drive to Craven Arms to get sandbags. People should not have to leave their homes when there is a risk of flood and in a flood event it might not be safe to drive 20 miles.

We have also been looking at longer term issues. I’ve asked Shropshire Council’s flood officer if he’ll come to a public meeting in Ludlow to brief people on how best to protect their homes and to advertise the free property flood assessment provided by Shropshire Council. I hope he will also brief us on the Slow the Flow project being run in conjunction with Shropshire Wildlife Trust. This scheme aims to hold back water upstream and the project is currently working in the catchment of the Sefton Brook, a tributary of the Teme, and the Battlefield Drain.

Main article – 4 January 2016

It has been a terrible and torrid time in northern areas of our country. Storm after storm has poured unprecedented levels of rain on saturated landscapes. Homes and dreams have been wrecked by the floodwaters.

Here in South Shropshire we have had not had flooding problems in recent weeks. But that doesn’t mean we should lower our vigilance.

Everyone in Ludlow remembers the floods of 2007. The old Burway Bridge was swept away by a raging Corve. A house close to the river collapsed.

The new Burway Bridge doesn’t obstruct the water as much and moves the torrent downstream faster. That’s good for Ludlow but maybe not so good if you live towards Tenbury.

Over the weekend, water levels rose on the Corve. David and others on lower Corve Street kept me in touch with developments. There are important lessons to learn from their experiences.

The Environmental Agency hotline still tells people they can pick up sandbags from the Coder Road depot. That depot was shut down and sold off by Shropshire Council last year.

The highways team at Shropshire Council are providing updated information to the Environmental Agency on the closure of Coder Road. Because that information might take a while to get through, the team has dropped off a supply of sandbags outside the former depot.

coder_road_sandbagsSandbags outside the former Coder Road depot

Environmental Agency advisers seem to be focused on the Teme. The Teme is a fast rising river. We need to keep an eye on it. But it is the Corve that has caused most problems in recent years. It can be an angry torrent by the time it gets to Ludlow where the river channel narrows.

Corve_sunday_lunchThe Corve, Sunday lunchtime

Shropshire Council’s highways team are to planning to talk to the Environmental Agency to ensure that it fully understands our local concerns and priorities.

On Saturday, residents on Corve Street got in direct contact with Shropshire Council to request sandbags. They were asked to go to the Craven Arms depot to pick them up. That’s just wrong.

There was no danger over the weekend from flooding. But residents should never be asked to drive a 20-mile round trip to pick up sandbags when there is the remotest possibility of a flood. Their priority should be protect their own home. Should there be a heightened risk of flood, no resident must ever be asked to drive on roads that might become awash with water.

One quarter of households in this town don’t own a vehicle.

Viv Parry worked hard to sort everything out on Saturday and to get sandbags delivered to lower Corve Street.

sandbags_corve_stretCorve Street sandbags

I think it is daft to store sandbags in Craven Arms and then have to scramble to get them delivered to Ludlow. We know that lower Corve Street is prone to flooding. So why not put a permanent sandbag supply there? I have suggested that we put a wooden shed on the triangle of land between St Mary’s Lane and lower Corve Street. The community and our councils will hold keys. When the waters rise, local residents can deploy sandbags without having to take up Shropshire Council resources. And they certainly won’t have to drive to Craven Arms.

We need take this approach because resources and staffing levels in Shropshire Council are going to become scarcer as the financial cuts bite even harder. In a major flood event 2007-style, the highways team will be severely overstretched. It makes sense to involve local communities in flood protection. It makes sense to store sandbags locally.

There was no great expectation for flooding in Ludlow over last weekend. But residents were absolutely right to ask that sandbags were deployed. It wouldn’t have taken a big shift in the weather patterns to drop more rain upstream of Ludlow.

This small event has provided a very useful insight on how ill-prepared we are for emergencies in Ludlow.

We need to improve information. But most of all, we need to put residents in a first response position. People who live in Ludlow should decide on when to deploy sandbags, not overstretched officials that have to cover a wide area.

This means we need to store sandbags locally in Ludlow. It also means that we need to empower residents to be the first responders whenever water levels rise.

This strikes me as common sense. Let’s plan for an emergency before we have it.

Corve guage 3

5 thoughts on “Updated – We should plan for an emergency before we have it – that means Ludlow residents must be the first response in flood protection

  1. This is a very serious and worrying issue, in which ,as sadly seems so often to be the case, if it wasn’t for the efforts of our own county councillors, Shropshire Council would ignore Ludlow. I am however, tempted to suggest to the developers of the Bromfield Meadow housing development, that they might add as a selling point in their information for prospective buyers:

    “Relax in the comfort of your living room, in your scuba outfit, and feed the fish as they swim through.”

  2. “Plan? what do you mean have a plan for an emergency well thought out, tested and documented”

    Now there’s a novel British idea, I seem to remember a few years ago a certain PM who at the scene of catastrophic floods promised £400 million for flood defences and made the comment about being prepared the next time.

    Now with the floods in the north we find out that when the dust had settled he quietly withdrew the promised funding…now where have I seen broken promises before?

    I commend this idea from Andy, he has foresight and I really hope this idea gets put into a proposal and actioned. The loss from a lack of preparedness is enormous.

  3. “The wise man should be prepared for everything that does not lie within his control.”
    Pythagoras

  4. It is a good point that Andy makes about those of us who couldn’t cope with the weight of sandbags. It sounds like me to a T. With an ageing population, many living alone, the outcome would probably be more clients for A&E.

    The inflatable bags sound a brilliant idea. Perhaps we can interest the Council in at least investigating the implications.

    Brilliant, Andy.

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