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

Look after yourself
An information leaflet, ‘Look after yourself – information to help’ has been developed for Somerset residents affected by the floods. The leaflet explores how people might feel in the days and months after flooding and provides information about how to get appropriate help. It will be available from the Flood Assistance Centre at Bridgwater YMCA and will be distributed to rest centres and by agencies visiting communities affected by the floods.

Oath / Wick – refuse collection
Working with local people and other agencies, Somerset Waste Partnership expects to make weekly collections of refuse from Oath and Wick. A central collection point has been established at LakeHouse on the Wick side of Oath, with refuse collected inside the floods on Monday, transported through the floods, and bins returned on Tuesday.

Pumps and Monks Leaze Clyse
The Dutch pumps continue to operate the same as yesterday, six running around all high tides at Dunball and one running as the water dictates at Huntworth.

Today, the Environment Agency is assessing the possibility of opening Monks Leaze Clyse over the weekend to move water through from the River Parrett into the Sowy and Kings Sedgemoor Drain system and out at Dunball. Subject to the weather, this is most likely to happen on Sunday. If this goes ahead, the clyse will only be opened a very small amount and there will be people on the ground downstream, to closely monitor how the levels respond.

Council Tax, benefits and business rates
Officers from Taunton Deane Borough Council (TDBC) will be at the Flood Help Centre in Burrowbridge, based in the old school, from 10am-4pm on Monday February 24 and Tuesday February 25 to offer advice on Council Tax relief, benefits advice and information on business rates. The officers will only be able to respond on behalf of TDBC but will be able to signpost people to other district councils if necessary.

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.

Guidance on how to recover from flooding
Public Health England has added another document to their flooding guidance catalogue, aimed at helping public health professionals in the recovery phase after flooding. The document, ‘Guidance on recovery from flooding: essential information for frontline responders’, is now available at http://www.hpa.org.uk/Topics/EmergencyResponse/ExtremeWeatherEventsAndNaturalDisasters/EffectsOfFlooding/.

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. 

Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) refuse collections:
Moorland / Fordgate – Working with local people and other agencies, SWP hopes to make weekly collections of refuse from Moorland and Fordgate. A central collection point has been established at Henry House, with refuse collected inside the floods on Wednesday, transported through the floods, and bins returned on Thursday.

Burrowbridge – Due to the impact of flooding on road access, SWP has split collections from Burrowbridge and, working with local people and other agencies, informed all residents. For some accessible properties, the collections remain on Wednesday as before; for others, the collection day has been changed to Thursday. Recycling will be collected this week, refuse and recycling next week (w/c 24/2). Subject to any further flooding or road closures, collections will continue on this schedule until the situation improves. Anyone in Burrowbridge who needs more information about their collection should contact the Parish Council or Taunton Deane Borough Council.

Muchelney – Working with local people and the Red Cross, SWP expects to make weekly collections of refuse from the corner of Silver Street, Muchelney, at 2pm on Thursday, subject to any further flooding or road closures. Anyone in Muchelney and Thorney who needs more information about the collection should contact the parish chair, Alastair Mullineux, or village agent, Carolyn Roche. 

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 200 people. For further information please phone (01278) 435423.
  • Flooding Assistance Centre is open from Saturday 22 February at Bridgwater YMCA. The centre will offer a range of services and advice for people affected by, or who are likely to be, affected by flooding. Open Tuesdays and Thursdays, from 2pm until 8pm, and Saturdays, from 10am until 4pm.
  • Somerset County Council (SCC) is now working alongside the Flooding on the Levels Action Group (FLAG) from a new base at the old BurrowbridgeSchool. The centre will be run by council staff and FLAG volunteers seven days a week offering support to the local community. Flood affected residents can pop in between 9am to 5pm to request help, services (fuel, animal feed etc). 

Getting around
You can view a map of the roads affected by flooding in the Somerset Levels and Moors online on the Somerset Council’s newsroom at http://somersetnewsroom.com (see the latest information section). You can also find all the latest information on SCC services, which have been affected by flooding or bad weather, and copies of the Community Updates. 

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 Westfield Church in West Street, Bridgwater (TA6 7EU). Details available from Sedgemoor District Council on 0845 4082540 or from the police number 101.
Donations
Donations have been pouring into the old Somerfield distribution centre at HuntworthBusinessPark, near Junction 24 in Bridgwater for the victims of the flooding. If you’ve been affected and need supplies, the centre has a variety of items that may be useful to you – from food and toiletries, to clothes and bedding. It’s open seven days a week, from 10am until 3pm. Please bring ID with you just so that we can confirm your address.

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. 

Helpline
For independent advice on all aspects of flooding for home owners and advice on Insurance issues, phone the National Flood Forum Helpline on (01299) 403055 or visit www.floodforum.org.uk

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
  • 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: 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: 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. 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.police.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.