Helping communities to be flood resilient

Armstrong Cottages at Rothbury during the 2008 floods.
Armstrong Cottages at Rothbury during the 2008 floods.

A team of flood engagement officers have worked with more than 60 schools and 700 business during their first year in post to help communities be more resilient to flooding in the North East, including Northumberland.

The Environment Agency appointed the new team to increase awareness of flood risk and help people be prepared for flooding.

The £280,000 a year project, which started last summer, includes four new engagement officers spread across Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Durham and Darlington, and Cleveland.

Funded by the Northumbria Regional Flood and Coastal Committee for four years, the officers are working alongside partner organisations to help support communities.

In their first year they have worked closely with communities at risk of flooding to help them recruit flood wardens and develop community flood plans and have focused on ensuring businesses are resilient to protect the impact of floods on the economy.

In Northumberland, Colin Hall has been working with many communities, including in Powburn, where he is working to establish a flood warning group.

The community engagement officers are working on behalf of the Environment Agency and local authority partners.

As well as supporting residents and businesses, working alongside schools has played a key role in helping future generations understand their risk.

The team hosted a region-wide flood warden logo competition, which led to a new blue jacket uniform for flood wardens across the North East so they were recognisable to emergency services and the community.

Phil Taylor, Environment Agency Flood Resilience Team Leader in the North East, said: “It’s been a really successful first year for the Flood Engagement Officers and they are now well known within their communities. This is a foundation they will build on going forward.”

To find out more about your local flood risk and sign up to the Flood Warning Service, visit www.gov.uk/check-flood-risk