Community update – Somerset Levels Flooding

16 February 2014

For latest weather forecasts, visit the Met Office http://www.metoffice.gov.uk
For flood warnings, visit http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk or call (0345 988 1188).

***Latest news***

Power supply

Taking the decision to evacuate your home when it’s flooded is understandably hard. But personal safety is paramount.

If your home is flooded – without power supplies or working toilets – then that’s the time to go, and you can be assured there’s help available to ensure you can leave safely, find accommodation and even return to pick up prized possessions.

Police, working with other emergency services, local authorities and volunteers in Somerset, will not supply private homes with generators as the dangers they pose far outweigh any benefit.

If you decide to acquire one privately, that is a personal decision but all involved in the response to the severe floods in Somerset are urging caution.

Generators used in confined spaces can cause dangerous level of carbon monoxide – dubbed the “silent killer” – to build up. The gas does not smell and is hard to detect – and is lethal.

The advice is: please don’t use petrol or diesel generators or similar fuel-driven equipment indoors, be it for heating, pumping or generating electricity.

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.

If you do decide to evacuate your home, a rest centre has been established by Sedgemoor District Council, at Westfield Church in West Street, Bridgwater (TA6 7EU). Details available from Sedgemoor District Council on 0845 4082540 or from the police number 101.

Increase to the operation of Monks Leaze Clyse

The Environment Agency has been letting people know about the possible opening of Monks Leaze Clyse early next week as part of the enhanced pumping strategy to move water off the Somerset Levels. We can now confirm that this is more likely to happen later in the week to allow further checks to take place.

Warning on fuel tanks affected by flooding

A warning has been issued about the potential risks of fuel tanks, used for domestic heating at homes affected by flooding, becoming damaged or transported by floodwater. There is a risk that deep floodwater could lift fuel tanks away from fittings and present a danger to the public or the environment. In the event of tanks containing Liquid Petroleum Gas (LPG) becoming damaged, and coming in contact with an ignition source, there is a risk of an extremely serious explosion. Should tanks containing heating oil become compromised, there is a risk that oil could be released and pollute the environment. If anyone living in an area affected by flooding has any concerns, they should call the emergency services on 101. In the event of an emergency, call 999.

Take care when the waters recede

Residents affected by floodwater are being reminded of the risks associated with clearing up after the waters have receded. The agencies supporting those affected by flooding on the Somerset Levels are warning of the dangers of carbon monoxide and possible electrocution. Never use outdoor petrol or diesel generators indoors, even in the event of a power cut, as the exhaust fumes may contain carbon monoxide which can kill in a confined space such as a home. Also, after being flooded, remember not to turn on gas or electrics until they have been checked by a qualified technician.

Even low-levels of carbon monoxide poison can cause lasting damage to your health. The symptoms are similar to the ‘flu’ and can include:

• nausea
• dizziness
• tiredness
• headaches
• stomach pains
• chest pains

Devon & Somerset Fire & Rescue Service encourage members of the community affected by the flood waters to contact their insurance companies who can support them after the flood waters recede.

***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, email generalenquiries@somerset.gov.uk
• The Police on 101 – If it’s not an emergency they will pass you to the County Council
• Sedgemoor District Council – 0845 408 2540, local rate 01278 435435

Sandbags

To request sandbags please contact Sedgemoor, Taunton Deane or South Somerset district councils using the contact details at the end of this update.

Welfare, benefits and Environmental Health information
This is provided for residents and businesses by district councils. They can give you help and advice around, temporarily homelessness, Council Tax reduction, housing benefits, business rates relief and Environmental Health services – such as dealing with septic tanks during this difficult time. Please use the contact details at the end of this update.

Transport Arrangements

Muchelney
A Unimog vehicle is serving the community provided by the Fire and Rescue Service, operating 6am to 11pm.
The west route, serving the Drayton area and beyond, is supported by a BV206 All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) 5am to 12pm. The County Council boat is serving the north towards Langport, running 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, 5am to 12pm.

Oath
A third All-Terrain vehicle has arrived in Somerset and will be running in Oath between 5am 12pm. We will be working with the community to tailor the service to their needs.

Information Points & Public events

• Community Contact Vehicles (mobile police stations) are operating 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 district council services. A home visit will be arranged for people who can’t get to an office. Contact details at the end of this update, including details of other local community offices.
• Sedgemoor District Council has changed the date of its Full Council meeting on 19 February to the new date of 24 February at 2:30pm.
• Somerset County Council’s Full Council meeting is on Wednesday 19 February. A flood update will be discussed as well as the 6 week plan.
• Weekly flooding surgeries are taking place at the Canalside Conference Centre, Marsh Lane, Bridgwater, for the next four Wednesdays, 6-8pm. Residents can talk one-to-one to representatives from the organisations providing help and support during the flood. The first surgery attracted more than 100 people. For further information please call 01278 435423.
• South Somerset District Council is hosting a public meeting at Huish Episcopi Academy on Monday 17 February at 2pm, to help explain the current emergency flood relief works on Somerset Moors and Levels. It will be chaired by the Council Chief Exec and supported by the Environment Agency. It will take place in the Main School Hall and notes from the meeting will be available from South Somerset District Council on the Council website.

Fuel charges
The local authority has arranged the delivery of fuel (logs, coal, oil etc) to residents. A record is being kept of who gets what fuel delivered but payment is not being asked for on delivery. We will bill later, but can assure residents the charges will not exceed the normal cost for delivery.
You should arrange fuel deliveries with your usual supplier or with Darch Oils (07970 400945). The British Red Cross can only help deliver fuel when supplies cannot reach delivery points.

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 £1,000 may be awarded to households directly and indirectly affected by the floods. Contact Somerset Community Foundation on 01749 344949 or download the application form from http://www.somersetcf.org.uk.

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 at http://www.hpa.org.uk.

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 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 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.

Advice around floodwater
Keep out of floodwater wherever possible. Make sure children and pets don’t play in it, and keep cuts covered by plasters. Make sure you wash you hands regularly with warm water and soap, especially before handling food. Wipe down food preparation surfaces and don’t eat food that’s been in contact with flood water. Remember, mains tap water is unaffected and 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.

Keep Safe
• If sandbagging defences alongside rivers, be aware of the risk of fast flowing rivers. This also applies on flooded drives, roads, and pavements, where obstructions could include man-hole covers that may become dislodged.
• A public access defibrillator is in Muchelney’s church hall.
• High profile Police patrols continue and 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. 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.

Half term advice for parents
With children out and about over half-term next week, Public Health England and Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue have issued advice to parents in flooded areas:
• Keep children and the vulnerable out of flood water
• Don’t let children play near flood water
• Avoid walking or driving through flood water if possible
• Don’t walk on sea defences or riverbanks
• Take care or avoid crossing bridges when water levels are high
• Take care crossing culverts as they are dangerous when flooded
• Don’t eat food that has touched floodwater
• Wash your hands regularly in clean warm water with soap or use hand gel
• Sandbags and sandbag “walls” could be an attraction to children and may appear to be quite robust but youngsters should be urged to keep well away from them and certainly not climb or play on them.

***Useful contact numbers***
• Police – 101 for general calls and 999 for emergency calls
• Environment Agency – 0345 9881188 for flood issues
• Sedgemoor District Council:
Telephone: 0845 408 2540 or local rate 01278 435435. Outside of these hours their 24/7 number is 0800 917 6520.
Email: customer.services@sedgemoor.gov.uk
Website: http://www.sedgemoor.gov.uk
• South Somerset District Council:
Telephone: 01935 462462 Monday to Friday (8.45am to 5.15pm) with an out of hours service providing cover for emergencies outside of these times.
Email: info@southsomerset.gov.uk
Website: http://www.southsomerset.gov.uk
• Taunton Deane Borough Council:
Tel: 01823 356356 with an out of hours service for emergencies
Emails: enquiries@tauntondeane.gov.uk
Website: http://www.tauntondeane.gov.uk
• 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
• Emergency accommodation – call Sedgemoor District Council or Police 101 number
• 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
• Village Agents – Community Council for Somerset has Village Agents who can be contacted for advice and support, especially for the vulnerable:
– Alison Hoare: AHoareva@somersetrcc.org.uk 07798 703321. Moorland and surrounding area, Chedzoy, Westonzoyland,, Middlezoy
– Audrey Mansfield: AMansfieldva@somersetrcc.org.uk 07870 577925. Creech St Michael and surrounding area including West Monkton, Ruishton, Lyng, Stoke St Gregory, Burrowbridge, Othery.
– Carolyn Roche: CRocheva@somersetrcc.org.uk 07968 521746. Muchenley area Hamdons, Montacute, Chilithorne Domer, Ash.

If you wish to contact the Village Agent manager sarah@somersetrcc.org.uk 01823 331222

Contacting the police
Don’t forget the Police’s new dedicated email address floodinginsomerset@avonandsomerset.co.uk and the form on the Police website, both of which can be used to tell us your requirements and can be acted on 24-7.
This is in addition to the usual 101 Police number.