Article date: 6 February 2009
A new campaign that empowers people to tackle the worst impacts of flooding launches today. Flood Plan UK will provide information and practical advice to individuals and communities, a forum for flood victims and experts to share experiences and a Community Flood Planning Guide which sets out how to create a community flood plan for your town or village. All this information is provided online at www.floodplanuk.org/.
The project is a timely response to last year's Pitt Review - an independent report for the Government into the floods of 2007. These floods affected 130,000 homes and 35,000 businesses, caused £3 billion worth of damage and resulted in a number of fatalities. Sir Michael Pitt recommended that individuals and communities be better prepared and more self-reliant during emergencies, allowing authorities to focus on those areas and people in greatest need.
Flood Plan UK has been developed by the UK's largest insurer Norwich Union and is supported by the Environment Agency and The National Flood Forum, a charity that supports victims of flooding. It builds upon a pilot project in North Yorkshire in 2008 in which the community of Boroughbridge participated in a flood simulation exercise known as Dry Run. Dry Run was facilitated by independent community engagement specialists, The Environment Council, and resulted in the creation of a community-owned flood plan which harnesses local people and resources to increase the town's flood resilience. Key lessons from this exercise have been incorporated into Flood Plan UK's Community Flood Planning Guide.
Paul Leinster, chief executive, Environment Agency said: "The Environment Agency welcomes this initiative from Norwich Union. Climate change will mean that the number of people at high risk of flooding could rise from 1.5 million to 3.5 million by 2080. The risks and impacts of flooding can be reduced through schemes like Flood Plan UK, as well as by preventing inappropriate housing development in the flood plain and ensuring that properties, when flooded, are rebuilt to resilient standards."
Heather Shepherd from The National Flood Forum said: "Flood Plan UK enables both community led groups and those that manage flood risk to improve communication and be better prepared to withstand the devastating effects of a flood. We will be making our groups aware of the Flood Plan UK resources available to help plan for future flooding."
Thomas Oxley, corporate responsibility manager, Norwich Union said: "Whilst it's not possible to prevent a flood, by working together as a community it's clear that individuals can reduce the financial and psychological trauma of being flooded. Our own research in areas affected by the 2007 floods revealed that 83% of people believe there is nothing that can be done to protect their home from flooding, which is why Flood Plan UK seeks to raise awareness of flooding and the potential to avoid the worst outcomes."
Flood Plan UK aims to engage communities in the flood planning process to supplement existing local authority and emergency services flood plans. It builds upon other initiatives to improve flood resilience including Norwich Union's Flood Resilient Home and Flood Sim.
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About Norwich Union
Norwich Union is one of the UK's biggest life insurers. It is a leading provider of life, pensions and investment products and one of the largest financial adviser (FA) providers. FAs provide over 70% of the company's long-term savings business in the UK.
Norwich Union has strategic alliances with building societies and other leading UK brand names including CIS and The Royal Bank of Scotland Group. Norwich Union's news releases and a selection of images are available from Aviva's internet press centre at www.aviva.com/media
In the summer of 2009 Norwich Union will change its name to Aviva. Aviva is the world's fifth largest insurance group and operates in 27 countries. Aviva is to become the customer brand worldwide, thus enabling the company to compete even more effectively on a global scale for the benefit of customers, staff, business partners and shareholders.
CASE STUDY - Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire
Boroughbridge is a small town in North Yorkshire on the River Ure. Together with the villages of Milby, Langthorpe and Roecliffe the area faces flood alerts every year and suffered severe flooding in 1982 and 1991. The town has a variable flood risk, ranging from low (one in 1,000 years) to significant (one in 75 years.)
On Saturday November 15, leading members of the Boroughbridge community including councillors, fire crews and residents gathered with experts from the Environment Agency, National Flood Forum, Norwich Union and others to pilot an innovative new approach to flood planning. The one-day workshop, called Dry Run, took the community through a flood simulation exercise, to develop a community-owned response. Norwich Union working with independent community engagement specialists, The Environment Council, devised the workshop to help develop best practice guidance for communities to add a greater community dimension to existing flood plans.
The Boroughbridge exercise identified the following key areas to be addressed in order to improve community flood planning:
Responsibilities - there was public uncertainty over who does what in a flood situation and who is in charge
Communication - the community wanted to be much more informed of existing flood plans
Information cascade - local people felt they needed an organised method for distributing information to members of the community, particularly to more vulnerable people
Local knowledge - there is a great deal of local and historical experience that must be shared with professional agencies
Volunteers - local people want to offer voluntary support so they require training and coordination
The participants pledged to take action on these key areas to improve Boroughbridge's flood resilience. The project was endorsed by Anne McIntosh, MP for the Vale of York.