«Case study, survey, diary and interview research on FCRM volunteering Report – SC120013/R3 We are the Environment Agency. We protect and improve ...»
The Environment Agency FRO took part in the research by Langridge Countryside Consulting (2009) on how to involve communities thorough volunteering. Following interviews with Environment Agency staff and case studies in the Environment Agency Anglian Region, recommendations were made to the Environment Agency on how to develop volunteering within the organisation.
LCC collects evidence on the production of emergency community plans. With the ‘Safe Haven’ project, the council is considering how to best evaluate and test whether the project has been effective.
Summary Flooding is high on the agenda in Lincolnshire with recent incidents and the large tidal surge and storms in December 2013.
The LFWS involves the Environment Agency in partnership working particularly with LCC, so although this case study is supposed to be about ‘direct management’ by Environment Agency, it does include other organisations rather than just the Environment Agency.
The Environment Agency Anglian Region is active in terms of the use of flood wardens.
However, there was some concern about how to involve more people in becoming flood wardens, with apathy being seen as a barrier to engagement. There was some confusion about the role of a flood warden and what it involved, and also concern that the flood warning system was not easy for all to understand.
The Environment Agency has worked with consultants on a number of projects to create a manual and toolkit for flood wardens.
There is a sense of frustration that not as much is being made of the flood warden resource due to capacity issues and staff reductions in organisations such as the Environment Agency and local authorities.
4.8.2 Cornwall Community Flood Forum and Local Community Flood Groups This case study is used as an illustration of the Environment Agency ‘working in partnership’ through the Cornwall Community Flood Forum (CCFF) and of communities acting ‘for themselves’ via local community flood groups Background context Cornwall has a very strong cultural identity. The county consists of moorland and a large coastal area, and has one of the mildest and sunniest climates in the UK. The importance of the Cornish landscape is illustrated by its six national character areas (Natural England 2014). Tourism contributes strongly to its economy, though Cornwall is one of the poorer areas of the UK.
Cornwall suffers from fluvial, pluvial and coastal flooding, and has a number of rapid response catchments. Flooding in Boscastle (a rapid response catchment) in 2004 was severe and made the national news. It led to six houses and 100 cars being washed away and 75 people being rescued by helicopter (Cornwall Community Flood Forum website). Widespread flooding occurred throughout Cornwall in November 2010 (Figure 4.26). The flooding affected areas such as Lostwithiel, St Blazey, Megavissey, Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering Tregrehan and others. The area received much attention after the 2010 flooding including a visit from the Prime Minister, the Prince of Wales and representatives of the Cabinet Office Four months after the flooding in 2010, two flood recovery groups were created to oversee recovery from the flooding in response to requests from the communities affected. These two groups fed information through to a strategic steering group which included the Environment Agency, South West Water and Cornwall Council. During this period significant improvements were made to flood infrastructure in parts of Cornwall.
It was thought that the two recovery groups should not be disbanded and a new association called the Cornwall Community Flood Forum was set up from them in 2011.
CCFF is led by a partnership brought about by the concerns of communities to support
communities, businesses and households that are at risk from flooding. Its aims are to:
• support communities in becoming better prepared
• raise flood awareness within Cornwall
• promote a partnership approach to flood risk management and community engagement CCFF contributes to the aims that came out of the Pitt Review of the 2007 floods concerning greater responsibility for communities and partnership working in flood risk management.
Figure 4.27 Photographs of flooding in 2010 Source: Presentation by C.
Richards on floods in mid-Cornwall 46 Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering Who gets involved in CCFF?
CCFF is an association of flood risk management authorities, businesses, community groups, and town and parish councils as well as individuals. Its first annual conference was held in October 2012 and the second in October 2013. The management board is made up of representatives of Cornwall Council, town councils, the Environment Agency, community flood groups, South West Water, Volunteer Cornwall, Climate Vision and the Eden Project. Any town and parish council, business, community or individual in Cornwall can become a CCFF member – membership is free. At present 47 town and parish councils are members, which is about a quarter of all town and parish councils in Cornwall.
CCFF has attracted funding of £238,000 from Defra through a Flood Resilience Community Pathfinder 3 project. This funding is administered via Cornwall Council which employs a project manager to organise projects to help communities and businesses that are at risk from flooding. The project manager does not sit on the management board but keeps it informed about the Pathfinder project. CCFF also successfully bid for £9,750 of Lottery funding from Awards For All England and has received a total of £6,600 as donations from South West Water, UK Flood Barriers and Cornwall Council.
The Cornwall Community Resilience Network (CCRN) supports communities in being better prepared for an emergency incident. It was set up by a partnership of CCFF and Cornwall Council. The CCRN and CCFF websites are hosted by Cornwall Council.
Much of the information and text on these websites was written by a CCFF volunteer who is the treasurer of its management board, and chair of the Par and St Blazey Community Flood Group.
Who gets involved in the local community flood groups?
The research team spoke to eight flood wardens in the Par and St Blazey (PSB) Community Flood Group, Lostwithiel Flood Watch Group, Mevagissey Flood Watch Group and Tregrehan Flood Group; four of the interviewees were chairs of these groups.
The chair of Lostwithiel Flood Watch Group, who is also a trustee of the National Flood Forum, got involved after the 2010 floods. As he was already a member of Lostwithiel Town Council, he was ‘pushed up to the top of the pile’ and was happy to contribute after experiencing flooding first hand. He outlined that things happened quickly after the flood. The Environment Agency got in touch about developing a flood plan and was able to gain some grant-aided funding for flood resilience measures such as flood doors. In order to get the funding, the community had to develop a flood plan, which put pressure on them to do so.
The chair Lostwithiel Flood Watch Group described working closely with the PSB Community Flood Group as this community was also developing a flood plan. He had had his house flooded and talked about ‘the adrenalin and shock of what happened, your house has been invaded’. He felt there were two types of people: those who have been flooded and those who have not. The PSB chair agreed with this view, highlighting that those who have been flooded have a vested interest in protecting their property and these people are ‘naturally selected based on where they live, so you get a mix of age, gender, cultural background’. Others volunteer because they want to help out within the community and the PSB chair thought these people tended to be older.
Pathfinder focuses on communities at significant risk of flooding to help them work with key partners including local authorities.
Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering Another flood warden talked about the river coming down through his village and how that was ‘a bit horrific’.
The Plymouth Brethren (a religious group) supported the Tregrehan Flood Group in 2010 by donating sandbags to the village. The Tregrehan Flood Group was established after the 2010 floods; the chair talked about keeping things simple, that is, the group do not have many meetings; they have a short simple five-point flood plan and they communicate mainly via email. They created and sent out a newsletter to the village about their activities and progress.
Flooding on the A390 in 2010 affected the family business (a garage) of the chair of the PSB Community Flood Group. He took the decision to close the garage and allow cars travelling on the road to detour behind it to avoid the worst of the flooding – helping to keep the traffic flowing. After the event members of the council and Environment Agency encouraged him to set up a flood group. The PSB group includes members from the local town and parish councils and reports regularly to both. The chair of the group is extremely proactive and the group has grown considerably. It now has about 80 flood wardens, five of whom are flood warden co-ordinators. The Environment Agency has the contact details for these five people so it can operate a pilot flood alert scheme which is administered by its team at Bodmin, though currently all contact passes through the group’s chair.
The Mevagissey Flood Watch Group was also created after the 2010 floods. The chair described ‘having four foot of water in the house … I was out of the house for seven months. He was approached by the Environment Agency to start a flood group. He worked with the PSB group and then also the Lostwithiel group to develop a flood plan.
He pointed out that, although the plans of the three groups are somewhat similar, the principles and practices are different due to differing circumstances. For Mevagissey, three main factors affect flooding – heavy rainfall, if the tide is in and strong easterly winds. When these factors combine they tend to get flooding. There is also a small group in Mevagissey that acts as a pressure group and which wants the authorities to take more action on flooding; however, this pressure group is separate from the Flood Watch Group. The Mevagissey Flood Watch Group is not connected specifically to the parish council, but it does provide reports for the council and is covered by the parish council’s insurance.
Activities of CCFF The funding obtained from the Big Lottery, the Environment Agency, South West Water, UK Flood Barriers and Cornwall Council after the 2010 flooding was used to develop a community resilience toolkit that provides information to communities on how
• set up a community group
• write a flood plan
• address issues such as risk, liability and insurance for volunteers In late 2013 CCFF, Cornwall Council and the Environment Agency ran seven events across Cornwall on community emergency planning linked to the agenda of community resilience. Flooding was used as an example at these events of a community emergency which is high on the list of emergencies facing the county. Sixty community groups were represented at the seven events.
The Defra Pathfinder started in mid-2013 and will run until the end of March 2015. The Community Network Manager of Cornwall Council and the chair of the PSB Community Flood Group put together the bid that was submitted to Defra. The steering group set 48 Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering up to oversee the Pathfinder project consists of six people, four of whom also sit on the management board of CCFF. The two-year pilot project aims to trial a range of low-cost initiatives to support households, businesses and communities that are at greatest risk of flooding and help them to become better prepared and more resilient. There are eight work packages – three are county wide and five cover on specific communities (Table 4.2). Responsibility for delivery of Pathfinder rests with Cornwall Council, though CCFF is an important partner in their implementation.
Activities of flood wardens in local community flood groups Lostwithiel Flood Watch Group The chair talked about raising awareness in his community following the 2010 floods.
He knows what being flooded is like and ‘the stress and trauma is great’ and said that ‘during rain there is a twitchiness in the area’. However, he also said that people forget about it and the reason that it is still high in people’s minds is that there have been a number of flooding incidents in the area since 2010.
The chair took part in the production of a DVD, ‘Preparing for a Flood: the Lostwithiel Story’, whose purpose was to get useful messages across. The DVD has been shown 50 Case study and survey research on FCRM volunteering to other communities and the CCFF. Its creation was one of the products for the rapid response catchments and it is now available on ‘You Tube’ 4.
Lostwithiel’s community flood plan is currently being updated following consultation with CCFF and use of the community toolkit. All the flood warden chairs talked about the flood plans as being ‘live’ documents that need to be reviewed at least once a year.
Par and St Blazey Community Flood Group The chair carried out a survey of the 55 households and businesses affected by the 2010 flood in his area to understand how they had been impacted and what support they needed. This helped him to build relationships with ‘local people and gave the community one point of contact’.
The PSB group (specifically the chair) are active in communicating via newspapers, community magazines, presentations to the town and parish councils, the group’s Facebook page 5 and by email. The main aims of this communication are to update the local community and reassure them that action is being taken.
The group has developed a comprehensive flood plan which has been endorsed by Cornwall Council and the Environment Agency.
The group also made a leaflet drop to 600 households, though this resulted in only one phone call enquiring about getting involved as a flood warden.
The group has hosted the South West Regional Flood and Coastal Committee at the local football club. The chair of the Environment Agency, Lord Chris Smith, as well as the Cabinet Office Civil Contingencies Secretariat, has also visited the group.
The PSB chair wrote a presentation for South West Water on the impact of the floods.