Community update – Somerset Levels Flooding

Produced on behalf of the multiple agencies supporting those affected by the floods.

For latest weather forecasts, visit the Met Office www.metoffice.gov.uk

For flood warnings, visit www.environment-agency.gov.uk or call 0345 988 1188.

Latest news 

Passenger vehicle update 

Oath – the all terrain vehicle transporting residents in and out of Oath has suffered an engine failure and is currently being fixed. In the meantime, the EA’s JCB Fastrac vehicle, which can take passengers, is helping out and will run daily from 7am to 11pm (or until the all terrain vehicle is fixed). Local residents have been informed.

Muchelney – the all terrain vehicle covering the western route to Drayton lost a track yesterday but has now been fixed and returned to service this afternoon. The Fire Service has been running the route to Thorney using two Unimog vehicles – unfortunately one has broken down so the service will continue with the remaining Unimog. The boat service continues to run on the northern route to Langport. Your Village Agent has been informed.

A372 road closure by The Rose and Crown open for business

The A372, from Pibsbury Corner to the Wessex Water Pumping Station, remains flooded and impassable indefinitely. Local properties are continuing to pump water out and any form of traffic through here would not help them. However, at the Rose and Crown, is still open and has had a temporary sign set-up

At the western end of the road open is open as far as the Rose and Crown ‘PH open as usual’. 

Long Load Bridge

The Long Road Bridge was shut following reports that the bridge was moving, so was closed due to concerns for public safety. Once reported we have a duty to inspect it and make sure that the bridge is safe before re-opening it. Since this initial report, a lot more water has passed under the bridge and it is not known what this has done to the bridge itself.

Even if the bridge were to be reopened immediately the road on the Long Sutton side is still impassable due to flood water. It is hoped that by the time the water levels subside, a full inspection can take place, subject to the speed of the water flow. The bridge will reopen as soon as is practically possible as we appreciate this is very inconvenient, but public safety is paramount.

Dunball pumps

Four of the eight pumps helping to evacuate water from the Kings Sedgemoor Drain into the River Parrett, will be operating today on high tides. 

Bridgwater Docks

The water levels in the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal remain stable. The pumps will therefore not be expected to operate at this time. 

Oil tanks in North Moor and Moorland

The Environment Agency has brought in contractors to assess the movement of some domestic fuel oil tanks in Moorland and North Moor. The Environment Agency would really like to talk to you about helping with your tank if your property is in this area. Please contact the Environment Agency on 0800 807060 and ask to be put through to the Bridgwater Incident Room. 

Saltmoor Pump

Royal Engineers are preparing the ground for a pipeline to be laid to make sure that the fuel supply to Saltmoor Pump continues uninterrupted. The pipeline is due to arrive this afternoon and part of the preparation has involved assisting the local residents in re-surfacing the footpath.

Sanitation in Muchelney and Thorney

In South Somerset there are two portaloos and six camping toilets being used by communities. If you have any concerns over sanitation or environmental health related issues, you can call South Somerset District Council any time on (01935) 462462, which is covered 24-hours a day). We are trying to get running water to the portaloos in Thorney for cleaning purposes and Environmental Health Officers will be visiting the site tomorrow to ascertain the location of an external tap.

Public meeting at Huish Episcopi Academy

Public meeting at HuishEpiscopiAcademy was well attended by 150 people. The pumping strategy was explained by Melvin Woods from the Environment Agency. Questions were answered by representatives from South Somerset District Council, Somerset County Council and Environment Agency. Any questions left by members of the public after the meeting will be answered. Notes from the meeting will be available on the South Somerset District Council website shortly. For those who missed Melvin Woods presentation, it can be found on the EA’s website at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qf5KjjmMI3E

40 Commando helping out

40 Commando have been helping residents in the efforts at Chadmead by laying sandbags. 

General advice and support

Evacuating your home

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.

If you are leaving your property and you are connected to a domestic supply of LPG (orange metal gas cylinders) we recommend that you isolate the supply by disconnecting any cylinders in use at your property. 

Take care when the waters recede

After being flooded, remember not to turn on gas or electrics until they have been checked by a qualified technician.

Members of the community affected by the flood waters are advised to contact their insurance companies who can support them after the flood waters recede.

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. 

Sandbags

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

Handling sandbags – general advice

It you are involved in making or emptying sandbags, please make sure you are wearing the appropriate personal protective equipment, including gloves and steel toecap footwear. If the sand is dry, it is advisable to also wear safety glasses.

Can you reuse sandbags?

Technically, sandbags can be re-used if emptied and dried out, but ideally, you should not re-used them unless you absolutely have to. If sandbags have come in contact with flood water they may be contaminated with untreated waste, chemicals, oil and gasoline, which could also contaminate other materials.

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. Please use the contact details at the end of this update. 

Transport Arrangements

Muchelney

Please see latest news for Muchelney transport arrangements.

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

  • 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.
  • 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. 

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 www.hpa.org.uk.

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.

Emergency accommodation

There is a rest centre, established by Sedgemoor District Council, at WestfieldChurch 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.

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: www.sedgemoor.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. Muchelney 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.