Flood victims asked to assess risk
The memory of the 2012 to 2014 floods on the Somerset Levels will not be easily forgotten. As a result of the lack of coordination in the response of various authorities to the floods, the Somerset Rivers Authority (SRA) was created. Four years later it still has no established source of funds and has to take the begging bowl round local councils each year. As regular readers will know this is largely the fault of Sir Christopher Chope an MP who regularly calls “object£” to David Warburton MP’s Bill that would sort out the funding.
The SRA may not be perfect but it has organised the sort of drainage works in the Somerset levels that the Environment Agency failed to do. Now with a regular scheme of dredging and flood protection measures being put in place, they are organising a survey of those villages they deemed were worst hit in the flooding. They would like the opinion of those living in the villages that were impacted by the floods on how they now perceive the potential flood risk to them and their local communities.
The survey in the form of a questionnaire will be delivered to over 1200 homes in ten villages over the next week asking four key questions:
- how people feel about the potential of flooding re-occurring,
- how well their community is able to respond to flooding
- if the work undertaken by the authorities has reduced the risk of flooding in the future
- have home owners been able to access affordable flood insurance?.
The outcome of the questionnaire will inform the decisions and future priorities of the SRA. The areas being consulted are: Athelney, Burrowbridge, East Lyng, Fordgate, Moorland, Muchelney, Oath, Thorney, West Yeo and Westonzoyland.
But what of the economic impact? This was felt very deeply by some of the 10 communities that will be getting the questionnaire. But it appears to be completely by-passed by the questions in the questionnaire. And we should also bear in mind the fact that some people could not go to work, some businesses were destroyed, but the owners and employees of the businesses did not necessarily live in the 10 communities.
Which leads on to another point. There is no doubt the ten named villages suffered the worst impacts of the flooding. But they were not alone. The flood waters cut roads, isolated some communities and did a lot of economic damage to others. The SRA do not seem to appreciate that other towns and villages suffered too, even if they were not always underwater. And they too should have a say in what happens next.
It is quite hard to understand why Langport has been left out of the survey. The town at the centre of the flood area may have not suffered the same flooding as other villages around suffered directly but the whole of the Westover Business Park was underwater, much of the land around the town was completely underwater and there were moments when the status of the bridge was touch and go. Other villages such as Hambridge and Long Sutton may not have been underwater, but with roads cut and massive detours necessary, they too suffered economically.
It is unclear why a survey of 1,200 households could not have been one of 2,400 households.
However on the positive side of things, the survey is available to complete online too. Although it does not prohibit people from outside the 10 communities from completing the forms (there is an “other” box) it does seem designed to discourage you.
Wherever on the Levels you live, if you were impacted fill in the online survey and make the points that the SRA want to hear about, but use the “other info” type boxes to tell them about the impacts they seem to have forgotten.
You can complete the survey online at www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/floodrisksomerset
The deadline for responses to the SRA is 21st December this year. It is not specified what time of day so best assume close of play standard office hours – which would be 5pm.