Missed our recent Show presentations on Flood Warning & Evacuation Planning?

Presenting most recently at the Holiday Park Show earlier this month, and at the Flood Expo in October, our Hydrology Practice Leader, Matt Travis, has been sharing his experiences of managing flood risk with particular guidance on how to minimise its impact on an organisation’s ability to meet its CSR and commercial objectives.

The propensity for the UK to be exposed to so-called “freak” climate events, leading to catastrophic flooding and resulting in damage to infrastructure and even casualties, is becoming increasingly evident. Global warming and its impact on climate change will only increase the frequency and intensity of these events as a result.

Coastal infrastructure can be hit especially hard, particularly when the combination of torrential rainfall and storm surges or unusually high tides come together to create a “double whammy” effect.

The UK’s east coast is especially susceptible to this confluence of circumstances, with the disastrous events of both 1953 and 2003 still fresh in many people’s minds; over 2,500 people lost their lives in 1953, as 160,000 acres of eastern England were overcome by severe flooding. Nowadays the Met Office has the technology available to allow detailed, accurate guidance to be given on the severity of any storm event up to 5 days in advance. In 2003, therefore, the Environment Agency was able to issue its warnings early, enabling flood warning and evacuation plans to be put in place, aided by a national communications system that could only have been considered fantasy back in 1953.

Of course, the faith in the accuracy and interpretation of such warnings will inevitably vary from one organisation to the next, in turn impacting directly on the action taken as a consequence. What cannot be argued, however, is the need to follow an agreed set of guidelines and actions on how to respond to a flooding event, in order to ensure human safety, prevent loss of life and limit any damage to infrastructure and natural surroundings.

Enzygo’s Hydrology Practice has substantial experience in preparing Flood Warning & Evacuation Plans for organisations operating across a broad range of industries. The storm events of December 2013 required that the Plans, which we had drawn up just 2 months earlier for our client Park Holidays’ St. Osyph Holiday Park, should be put to the test almost immediately.

St Osyph Holiday Park

St Osyph Holiday Park

The Park’s low lying situation, just 500 metres from the coast at Clacton in the South East, and its exposure to rapid flood water inundation within just 10 to 15 minutes of the sea defences being breached, determines the status of its location as a prime flood warning area.

With only one road providing access to the site, traffic management is essential to enable orderly evacuation, ideally well in advance and, if possible, within daylight hours.

The Park’s Flood Warning & Evacuation Plan details the required actions according to the severity of the four levels of flood warning issued; announcement of a ‘Severe Flood Warning’, for example, constitutes a “definite flooding event”. The Met Office’s 5 day “early warning” forecast provides plenty of time in which the Park staff can be well prepared.

Once the 2 day warning is reached, formalised communication with the guests readies them for a potential evacuation. Responsibility for the safe evacuation of the site is held by site management, upon confirmation received from the company’s Board level management, and support is received as may be required from adjacent regional site staff.

Clear Action Plans for employees have been drawn up in the event of a ‘Flood Alert’ or a ‘Flood Warning’ whilst Warning Notices are issued to guests in the event of either a ‘Flood Warning’ or ‘Severe Flood Warning’.

According to DEFRA, over one quarter of holiday and leisure sites in England and Wales are at flood risk due to their proximity to rivers and the sea. Rather than being a ‘nice to have’ with a tick in the corporate social responsibility box, more forward-thinking leisure businesses see this not only as a must-have in order to protect their customers, staff, suppliers and property, but as an opportunity to extend their trade season and thereby earn incremental revenue.

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