Flood risk areas prepared for emergencies says independent report

England and Wales are now better prepared than ever to respond to major flooding, says an independent report published today.

10,000 people took part in Britain’s biggest ever civil emergency exercise, Exercise Watermark, last March to test the country’s response to floods. The Exercise Watermark report published today shows that emergency services in areas at risk of flooding are well prepared to keep people safe in a major flood. Defra has awarded £2.5 million in grants to improve emergency responses to floods in the last eighteen months.

These are being used to:

  • triple the number of boat rescue teams, by April 2012;
  • provide specialist flood rescue training for emergency responders, including local flood rescue volunteers in flood-risk areas; and
  • provide vital new equipment such as vehicles, outboard motors and diving equipment.

Flooding Minister, Richard Benyon said:

“We are more prepared than ever to protect peoples’ lives, homes and businesses from the devastating effects of floods. Staging Exercise Watermark was a true test of how we react to flooding and keep people safe and, while there are lessons to be learnt, I’m pleased to say, it is a test we all came through.

“The Government has given £2.5 million to councils and emergency services over the last eighteen months to increase the number of expert flood rescue teams and allow them to buy important equipment. As a result, they are more prepared than ever before to keep people safe when the time comes that they need to act.”

Read more on the Defra website…

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Exercise Watermark to test the UK’s flood response capability

The largest flood defence exercise ever held in the UK took part at the start of March. Exercise Watermark involved thousands of people from the emergency services, councils and utility firms. A series of scenarios across England and Wales test the authorities’ ability to co-ordinate.

Exercise Watermark cost £1.8m and involved around 10,000 people, 10 government departments, emergency services, utility companies, and communities. It comes on the back of heavy criticism received in the official review by Sir Michael Pitt on the 2007 floods which devastated parts of Yorkshire, the Midlands, and the West Country. Read more on the Exercise Watermark website…