How Wet can it Get?

How Wet can it Get?

How Wet can it get?

That is the question that the national flood resilience review has been considering since the report that was commissioned in January 2016 after our winter floods was published on the 12th of September. The 145 pages make a lengthy but interesting read, and outlines some the work that has been going on with regard to flood defences so far.

The environment agency has developed an “extreme flood outlines” map, which shows the expected reach of floods that are more extreme than those some of us faced this year. The report explains the science that has been used to set these "storminess trends" limits, which can be used as a planning assumption for extreme circumstances.

Current work involves:

  • Establishment of a national infrastructure resilience council.
  • Temporary flood protection measures for some areas to be in place by Christmas 2016.
  • Road, rail and airport investment in flood resilience.
  • Protection of remote communities to prevent them being cut off by floods.
  • Identification of single points of failure – e.g. bridges that carry power and communications lines.
  • Acquisition of increased number of portable flood barriers.
  • Creation of a national flood response asset register – available via Resilience Direct.
  • Environment agency to conduct a resilience exercise this autumn to test readiness to deploy new barrier assets, along with the cabinet office and civil contingencies secretariat who will exercise their arrangements at the same time.
  • Core City projects – Sheffield will be the first to take part in flood defence project, which if successful will be rolled out to our other major cities.
  • Autumn awareness campaign to be run by the environment agency about flooding.

The report also contains some detailed advice on warning and informing people about flooding and the language to be used in putting the information across.

It seems that much has been done in this area since January with a great deal more set into the future, which can only be good news especially to those that have been flooded in the past.

The review only covers river and coastal flooding measures, it does not cover surface water flooding, which will be separated from this group in the national risk assessment for 2016. This is unfortunate, as surface water flooding has caused its fair share of damage and disruption in the past across large urban areas.

A great many business continuity disruptions continue to be caused by water, either too much and the kit stops working, or none at all and you have to send staff home. I have recently visited a new public sector building that housed its main computer servers in the basement with overhead service pipes running all over the place. Clearly there remains much work to be done, these buildings are in our midst.

This report is a timely reminder about flooding and presents us with the opportunity to carry out a bit of integrated emergency management practice around our vulnerability to water, and a chance to think through our BC response and planning before it gets here.

You will find this process in more detail in the Cabinet Office  Emergency Preparedness Manual. Though an emergency planning tool, I find it very useful for business continuity horizon scanning.

Simply apply the process below to whatever problem you may face in the future:

  • Anticipate - What happens if it floods.
  • Assess – The impact on your operations
  • Prevent – Is there anything you can do to prevent or reduce the risk
  • Protect - If asset or activity is key, protect against disruption – BC plan

The response and recovery phase should be contained in the BC plan.

All in all, we can expect it to be wet this winter, but it’s going to get wetter, so be prepared.