Community update – Somerset Levels Flooding

Thursday 13th February 2014
Produced on behalf of the multiple agencies supporting those affected by the floods.

For latest weather forecasts, visit the Met Office
For flood warnings, visit Environment Agency or call (0345 988 1188).

Latest news

You said – we did
At the public meeting in Huntworth yesterday evening, you told us you were having problems getting through to our 101 number or being called back quickly enough. We’ve listened and have today created new ways that people who need help can get in touch.

We’ve set up a dedicated email address called floodinginsomerset@avonandsomerset.co.uk and we’ve created a form on our police website, both of which can be used to tell us your requirements. These will go directly to our 24-hour communications staff at Silver control in Taunton, where the floods effort is being co-ordinated, and will be monitored and acted upon.

You also said you were worried about security of properties that have been evacuated. We already have a robust patrol plan in place, with officers working across the area day and night, checking on homes and being alert to any possible suspicious people and vehicles. We’ve reviewed that patrol plan and will ensure we always have the right number of officers on the ground in the right place and right time.

Changes to Transport Arrangements
The Devon & Somerset Fire and Rescue Service is reducing their transport operating hours, due to a lack of demand for their service between 5am to 6am and between 11pm to midnight. The following information has been updated to reflect this change:

Muchelney
A Unimog vehicle continues to serve the community provided by the Fire and Rescue Service, operating from 6am to 11pm.

The west route, serving the Drayton area and beyond continues to be supported by a BV206 – All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) and Wessex 4×4, continuing to operate from 5am to 12pm. The County Council boat is serving the north towards Langport, running extended hours of 8am to 4.30pm.

Huntworth to Moorland
An ATV is transporting people and supplies along this route. There is no timetable as this is a shuttle service responding to local requests, running 5am to 12pm.

Oath
The County Council is looking at ways of providing a transport link to Oath. We are expecting the arrival of a third BV206 vehicle tomorrow which we hope to start using from this Saturday. In the mean time we are working with Wessex4x4 to asses the feasibility of providing a temporary service by means of Unimog. We are in communication with the community with a view to tailoring the service to the demand. We will keep you updated as we progress.

Weekly Information Surgeries starting today
Weekly Information Surgeries have been organised so residents can talk one-to-one to representatives from the organisations providing help and support during the flood. They will take place at the Canalside Conference Centre, Marsh Lane, Bridgwater, the first being held today at 2pm. After that they will take place on Wednesdays between 6-8pm and sessions have been booked for 19 and 26 Feb, 5 and 12 March. More will be added if needed. For further information please call 01278 435423.

Fuel charges
There has been some uncertainty about whether requests for fuel would have to be paid for at the point of delivery, free of charge or later. The local authority has arranged the delivery of fuel to those residents that need it. Please note that whatever fuel you have (logs, coal, oil etc) this is not free, a record is being kept of who gets what fuel delivered but not asking for payment on delivery. We will bill later, but we can assure residents that the charges will not exceed their normal cost for delivered fuel. No one will be worse off, and there will be no premiums added to the price you pay, the cost of which will be covered by your District Council.

You should arrange fuel deliveries with either your usual supplier or with Darch Oils (07970 400945). The British Red Cross can help deliver fuel when supplies cannot reach the delivery points only.

Grants Available
Grants at a flat rate of £250 are available to alleviate the immediate financial hardship experienced by people whose homes are flooded or who were evacuated from their homes due to flooding. Also, grants of between £150 and £1000 may be awarded to households directly and indirectly affected by the floods. For more information, contact Somerset Community Foundation on 01749 344949 or download the application form from the Somerset Community Foundation.

District Council services
Your District Council can help those who may be made temporarily homeless and once the initial stage of this major incident has passed, they (alongside Somerset County Council and other agencies) will be helping communities recover. Other services District Councils can help you with include council tax reduction and housing benefits, business rate relief, and environmental health services – including guidance on dealing with septic tanks during this difficult time.

Health FAQs
A list of useful FAQs covering a range of flood related health topics such as preparing food safely, washing and drinking water safely can be found on the Public Health England site.

General advice and support

Making a donation or looking for help?
If you are in the flood affected area and think we can provide you with any supplies or practical help, please get in touch. We will try and match you up with the support and supplies at our disposal.

Whether you want to make a donation or seek help, you can call:

  • Somerset County Council on 0845 345 9166 or email generalenquiries@somerset.gov.uk
  • The Police on 101 – they will pass you to the County Council if it’s not an emergency
  • Sedgemoor District Council (0845 408 2540 or local rate 01278 435435)

Information Points & Public events

  • Community Contact Vehicles (mobile police stations) continue to operate in Burrowbridge and Moorland.
  • South Somerset residents can visit Langport Information Centre, Bow Street, for advice and information. Opening times: Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 9am to 2pm. For help with South Somerset District Council services, a home visit will be arranged for those residents who can’t get to an office. (See South Somerset District Council website for details of our other local community offices.)
  • Sedgemoor District Council’s and Somerset County Council’s Full Council meeting is on Wednesday 19 February. A flood update will be discussed by members as well as the 6 week plan.

Evacuated your property?
If you have decided to evacuate your property, or have moved back in, please keep your District Council updated on your movements wherever possible. This helps keep people safe and protect properties. Contact details for District Councils are at the bottom of this newsletter.

Emergency accommodation
There is a rest centre, established by Sedgemoor District Council, at Westfield Church in West Street, Bridgwater (TA6 7EU). Details are available from Sedgemoor District Council on 0845 4082540 or from the police number 101.

Welfare of domestic and farm animals
If you need to move your animals – whether domestic or farm – as part of a possible flood evacuation, contact the police number 101 for further assistance and information.

Sandbags
You can get sandbags free of charge from your local district councils by calling:

  • Taunton Deane Borough Council 01823 356356
  • Sedgemoor District Council 0845 408 2546 or local rate 01278 435435 (Out of hours 0800 917 6520)
  • South Somerset District Council – 01935 462462 (24 hours)

Keep Safe

  • If sandbagging defences alongside rivers be aware of the risk of fast flowing rivers. These risks also apply on flooded drives, roads, and pavements, where obstructions could include man-hole covers that may become dislodged.
  • Keep out of floodwater wherever possible. Keep children and pets away from playing in it and ensure any cuts are covered by a plaster.
  • Make sure you and your family wash hands regularly with warm water and soap, especially before eating or handling food, wipe down food preparation surfaces and do not eat food that has been in contact with flood water.
  • Mains tap water is unaffected by the floods and is safe to drink as usual.
  • If you need health services, please call 111 or your GP for advice in the normal way. In a medical emergency you should still dial 999 and ask for the ambulance service.
  • A public access defibrillator is in Muchelney’s church hall.
  • Police are continuing high profile patrols to reassure people. Crime figures for the area remain much the same as last year. Remain vigilant and call 101 if you see anything suspicious.
  • Please don’t use petrol or diesel generators or similar fuel-driven equipment indoors, be it for heating, pumping or generating electricity. The exhaust gases contain carbon monoxide, which can kill. You should also ensure good ventilation if using portable indoor heating appliances to dry out indoor spaces. More advice about carbon monoxide poisoning is available on the NHS Choices website (www.nhs.uk). Anyone who is worried about their health can contact NHS 111.

Useful contact numbers

  • Police – 101 for general calls and 999 for emergency calls
  • Flood issues – Environment Agency on 0345 9881188
  • Emergency accommodation – Sedgemoor District Council 0845 4082546 or Police 101 number
  • Sedgemoor District Council contact centre – 0845 408 2540 or local rate 01278 435435. Outside of these hours their 24/7 number is 0800 917 6520.
  • Somerset County Council:
    • Roads and Transport 0845 345 9155
    • Adult Social Care 0845 345 9133
    • Children & Learning 0845 345 9122
    • General Enquiries 0845 345 9166
    • Farming Community Network Local 01934 712128 National 0845 3679990
    • Mindline 01823 276892 Line open: Friday, Saturday, Sunday 8pm-12am
    • Samaritans Taunton branch 01823 288 998 (24hr); Yeovil branch 01935 476455
    • Somerset Carers Network 01749 836 633
    • 24 hour health care advice – 111
  • South Somerset District Council contact centre 01935 462462 Monday to Friday (8.45am to 5.15pm) with an out of hours service providing cover for emergencies outside of these times.
  • Taunton Deane General Enquiries 01823 356356 , enquiries@tauntondeane.gov.uk
  • Community Council for Somerset Village Agents who can be contacted for advice and support, especially for the vulnerable: