Created: 05 June 2020
Andrew has provided the below update regarding the flooding in Snaith and Cowick.
Andrew said, "As referenced earlier in the week, I have copied below further information I have received from the Environment Agency on the Snaith and Cowick flooding issue. "
Managing flood risk on the lower River Aire
The Environment Agency has remained operational throughout the restrictions we all face during the Coronavirus emergency and we have adapted how we work in line with government guidance to ensure we can continue to focus on our critical activities. Please be assured that these activities include the recovery from the flooding on the lower River Aire in February and our ability to respond effectively in the event of a major flood or pollution incident. We continue to work with the emergency services, local authorities and other partners, including the Local Resilience Forums and are regulating the waste industry and other industrial activities.
We cannot operate completely as normal however, as some activities are simply not possible at the moment and we regret that the Coronavirus restrictions have unavoidably limited our ability to communicate with the communities that suffered flooding this winter. We are extremely disappointed and frustrated that we have not been able to meet you to hear your concerns and experiences at first hand and to discuss our work following the flood.
We hope you will find the following update helpful and we are keen to hear what other questions and ideas you may have. What happened during the floods in February on the lower River Aire?
The flooding on the lower River Aire at the end of February followed an autumn and winter of exceptional rainfall that had fully saturated the ground and kept river levels high for prolonged periods. Initial information suggests it was the wettest February on record for Yorkshire, the River Aire catchment receiving 367% of the average monthly rainfall.
River levels responded very quickly and the volume of water in the river was such that our extensive washlands filled to capacity and overtopped, to an extent that we have not experienced in recent times. Washlands are areas of land adjacent to rivers that are designed to store water when the river levels are high. The Environment Agency worked with its partners to minimise the impact of the flooding through the operation of its existing and temporary flood defences and the use of mobile pumps.
Despite these efforts, over 100 properties were flooded and many more affected in the communities of Hirst Courtney, Snaith and East Cowick. Recovering from flooding is always hard and the Coronavirus emergency has added to this greatly.
What have we done so far?
Following the February flooding we have:
• inspected and maintained our flood defences and identified more than 40 locations on the lower River Aire that require approximately £10 million of repair work due to the damage caused during last autumn and winter.
• made temporary repairs to those defences requiring the most urgent attention, including the washland reservoir embankments known as Poor Bank and Pickhill Bank between Heck, Gowdall and Snaith washlands;
• cleared debris along the Lower River Aire over the last month, working with contractors and the Internal Drainage Board;
• begun grass cutting of banks, starting downstream and working upstream to enable inspection of their condition;
• communicated with local MPs and councillors and worked closely with Local Authorities and other professional partners;
• investigated non-traditional means of communication and engagement for use during the Coronavirus restrictions;
What work is being planned?
We have already been given some funding towards the £10 million of identified repair work and have submitted a bid to government for the rest which will allow us to return the defences to their pre-flood condition and standard of protection.
We are carrying out a full internal review to understand the causes and extent of the flooding, including how the washlands worked, our flood warnings and the effectiveness of our pumping operation once the washlands overtopped. We are working with the local authorities to carry out their own investigations and reviews into the floods.
Looking to the future, although options to further reduce flood risk are limited by the tidal influence from the River Ouse, we will be working with our partners and local communities to explore what may be possible. We have already planned investments for the next six years along the lower River Aire to improve and replace some of our existing flood defences, at a total projected cost of £36 million. These plans are all subject to approvals and will require partnership funding to deliver.
What you can do to manage flood risk and where to find information
While it is impossible to completely flood-proof a property, there are a lot of things you can do to prepare and reduce the damage flooding can cause. Here are some useful resources:
You can check your risk of flooding from rivers, surface water and reservoirs online at www.gov.uk/check-flood-risk
You can also sign up for flood warnings at www.gov.uk/sign-up-for-flood-warnings if your property is at risk of flooding. This is a free service and you’ll be alerted by phone, email or text when flooding is expected from rivers, the sea or groundwater. You can also register, update your details or cancel your account by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188.
You can find useful information about ‘Flood Warnings – know what to do?’ at www.floodwarning-information.service.gov.uk/plan-aheadfor-flooding
Create a checklist of things to do and to protect your family, such as turning off the electricity and gas to prevent a fire can be found at www.gov.uk/government/publications/personalflood-plan
More information on how to protect your property can be found on the National Flood Forum website at https://nationalfloodforum.org.uk/aboutflooding/reducing-your-risk/property-protectionadvisor