Community Update – Somerset Levels Flooding

For the latest version of this update, visit www.somersetnewsroom.com

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

Environment Agency (EA) update
The Huntworth Pumps and pipe work will be removed today and tomorrow. The road ramp was taken down overnight.

We have all pumps operating elsewhere and water levels continue to drop.

Highways
The A361 between East Lyng and Burrowbridge will soon be clear of water and much work is now underway to clear it of mud, trees and other debris and carry out the necessary checks to ensure that it is safe to use. We understand that people will be keen to use the road but please be patient as it’s essential that we do the necessary safety checks – road closures will stay in place until that is done. We are hopeful that the road may be open to traffic by the end of the week.

Sandbags
Highways and Council staff have been working with the Environment Agency to remove sandbags. If you are trying to remove sandbags from your own property and can move them to somewhere safe at the edge of the highway, we should be able to use JCBs and lorries to remove them for you.

Taunton to Bridgwater railway reopens
Trains are moving again between Bridgwater and Taunton after the 2 mile signaling system in the area was destroyed by the prolonged exposure to flood water and extensive work will be needed.
A manual signalling measure is now in place to enable a limited number of trains to be ‘talked past’ Bridgwater, whilst engineers continue their efforts in designing a long-term solution.

Free pest control
Sedgemoor District Council, Taunton Deane Borough Council and South Somerset District Council are now offering a free rat survey and treatment service to flood-affected residents.

To request this service please contact:
Sedgemoor Direct on 0845 408 2540 or local rate 01278 435435.
Taunton Deane Borough Council on 01823 356337.
South Somerset District Council on 01935 462462.

General advice and support

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.

Clear-out assistance

Residents who need help removing flood-damaged items from their homes should first check with their insurance company in case items need to be retained or recorded. If disposal of items is approved by their insurer, they should make arrangements through them to have the items removed.

If you then require further assistance, please contact your District Council, listing what needs to be removed or what other help you need in the clear up. These requests will then be collated by Somerset Waste Partnership and, if appropriate, shared with FLAG, whose volunteers will contact you and may be able to help remove waste for disposal, fridges, freezers, and other electrical items for recycling, and clear up other flood-related debris.

Health advice

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/.

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.

Advice about mould

Buildings that have been wet for prolonged periods may have experienced mould growth or may do so in the coming weeks. The key to controlling mould is to control the moisture levels.

After flooding:

  • You may notice mould growing on damp walls – this will stop growing as your home dries out.
  • Heating, dehumidifiers and good ventilation can help dry out your home.
  • Small areas of mould can be removed easily with proprietary mould removal solutions available in hardware stores. If the mould persists or is extensive you may need to contact a specialist cleaner. It is important to choose a specialist experienced cleaner who is aware of and follows current guidance.

As we are constantly exposed to mould and fungal spores, as part of normal everyday life, most people will not encounter any health problems. However, for people with asthma and eye/nose irritation there is some medical evidence linking prolonged exposure to high levels of mould aggravating these conditions. If you believe that you have extensive fungal growth in your property and that your health might be affected, you should consult your GP.

Electrics and carbon monoxide

People starting to return to their homes after flooding are reminded to take care and stay safe and particularly be aware of the dangers of carbon monoxide and possible electrocution.

  • It is dangerous to operate any electrical devices or machinery in wet conditions, such as flooded properties.
  • 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
  • After being flooded, remember not to turn on gas or electrics until they have been checked by a qualified technician.

Drinking water systems

The following advice is for people returning to homes once flood levels have dropped, to ensure that water systems are clean and fit for use.

There has been no disruption to the public water supply in the flooded areas but it is possible that pipe work on individual properties has been damaged or contaminated.  Wessex Water is carrying out routine monitoring of the water supply in the area and will follow up where there has been damage to pipe work.

Checklist:

  • No water – if no water runs from your kitchen tap, please contact Wessex Water urgently.
  • Cleaning and flushing- the majority of systems can be used once the following actions have been taken. Until then you should drink only bottled or boiled water.
    • Clean all taps using water (preferably hot if it is available) and detergent and then disinfect using an antibacterial surface cleaner. One bottle of Dettol antibacterial surface cleanser is available per affected household from Help HQ at the old Burrowbridge school or from the Donations centre at the old Somerfield distribution centre on HuntworthBusinessPark in Bridgwater. Follow the manufacturer’s advice on the bottle, ensuring a minimum contact time of 30 seconds to enable disinfection to take place.
    • The kitchen tap should be flushed at a moderate rate for 15 minutes.
    • All other taps and showers in and around the house should be flushed for 2 minutes.
    • If your property has been flooded and you need to flush your taps and you are on a meter you will automatically receive the Wessex Water flushing allowance.
    • You should only do prolonged flushing when the flooded water has gone from your home and you are sure water can drain away in your drainage system as normal.
  • Pipe work – if you are concerned that there has been damage to pipe work please contact Wessex Water.
  • Oil spill – if there is a possibility that your water supply has been contaminated by oil please contact Wessex Water.
  • Taste- if you are concerned about the taste of your water, run your tap for a further 15 minutes, if the taste persists contact Wessex Water and tell them you have already run your tap for 30 minutes.
  • Taps immersed in flood water- if your kitchen tap has been immersed in flood water, please contact your Environmental Health Department for advice. If you use a private water supply, please contact Environmental Health for advice.

Contact numbers:

Wessex Water – 0845 600 4 600, quoting “Somerset Levels Flooding”

Sedgemoor District Council Environmental Health – 0845 408 2540

South Somerset Council Environmental Health – 01935 462462

Taunton Deane Council Environmental Health – 01823 356356

Please note this briefing does not take into consideration the state of your foul drainage network (i.e. sewerage drains). Turning on taps and showers for any length of time may cause flooding if the water cannot drain away.

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.

Somerset Waste Partnership flood recovery advice for waste:

Contact your insurer: If you have been flooded, contact your insurance company and follow their advice. They should arrange or pay for removal of all flood-damaged items (such as with skips); do not dispose of them in your kerbside refuse bin.

Waste containers and special collections: When you have returned to your property and it is accessible to our vehicles, please let Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) know if you need replacement waste containers, and if you usually have, or now need, a clinical or assisted collection.

Food: If usual recycling collections are taking place, waste or flood-damaged food from fridges, freezers and cupboards – with packaging removed – can be added to your food waste recycling container for the next collection. If the food waste recycling container is full, recycling collections have not restarted but usual or emergency refuse collections are taking place, food (with or without packaging) may be placed in black sacks – ideally double bagged – and put in your refuse bin, or added to the “cannot be recycled” skip at a recycling centre. All usual care must be taken over handling food, but extra care must be taken in dealing with food for recycling or disposal that has come into contact with flood water, including washing hands carefully.

Dead animals: If you find small dead animals – rabbit, rat, mouse etc – on your property, please double bag them in black sacks and add this to your refuse bin. For larger animals – fox, badger etc – contact the district council.

Sandbags: You should consider storing sandbags by stacking them on your drive or patio, just in case there is further flooding in the future. If you do need to dispose of them do not put sandbags or their contents in your kerbside refuse bin. If you have a skip for flood-damaged items, sandbags can be added to that. They can also be taken to your nearest Recycling Centre. Sandbags on public land, alongside watercourses or put into position by the Environment Agency should not be moved. If sandbags are an immediate significant problem, contact the EA, the district council, or whichever other agency put the sandbags in position.

Waste removal services: Whether funded by yourself or your insurance company, take care to avoid rogue clear-up and removal services that will fly-tip your waste. You have a legal duty of care over your waste, even after it leaves your home. If someone offers to take away waste, ask to see their “waste carrier licence”, and check where your waste will go. You can call 03708 506 506 to find if a business has a licence, or look them up online by searching for “public registers” at www.environment-agency.gov.uk. If you use a removal service, record the name, phone and vehicle registration number.

(This advice is for private householders; businesses must check with insurers or use commercial services to remove waste.)

Transport Arrangements:

Muchelney – Two 4×4 vehicles, operated by the County Council’s highway contractor, Skanska, have taken over from the Unimog vehicles. The transport schedule will remain unchanged until the flood water recedes.

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.

Transport for residents to get flood help

A minibus has been arranged to take people to and from the SCC/FLAG HQ at the old school in Burrowbridge, the Flood Assistance Centre at the YMCA in Bridgwater and Junction 24 Donations Centre in Bridgwater. The minibus will start tomorrow and the timetables will be:

On Tuesdays and Thursdays will be:

Departs 13.30: from Burrowbridge Help HQ to Donation Centre, HuntworthBusinessPark (Somerfield warehouse behind motorway service)

Departs 15.00: from Donation Centre, HuntworthBusinessPark (Somerfield warehouse behind motorway service) to YMCA, Bridgwater

Departs 17:00: from YMCA, Bridgwater to Burrowbridge Help HQ

On Saturdays the timetable will be:

Departs 09:45: from Burrowbridge Help HQ to Donation Centre, HuntworthBusinessPark (Somerfield warehouse behind motorway service)

Departs 11:30: from Donation Centre, HuntworthBusinessPark (Somerfield warehouse behind motorway service) to YMCA, Bridgwater

Departs 14:00: from YMCA, Bridgwater to Burrowbridge Help HQ

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.
  • 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.
  • 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). Advisors from the Taunton CAB will be at the old school in Burrowbridge on Monday and Friday from 10am to 3pm and on Wednesdays from 1pm to 6pm. Laundry facilities and internet access is also available at the old school in Burrowbridge during opening hours.

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.

Advice for pet owners
The risk of disease to pets and livestock from floodwater is considered to be low because of the significant dilution. There has been no evidence of an increased disease risk to pets following floods in recent years.
There are some simple precautions you can take to reduce the risk of disease to your pet:
• Pet owners are advised to prevent their pets from accessing any areas of garden affected by sewage spill.
• Residents should clean-up and safely dispose of any visible gross contamination to eliminate germs and take sensible hygiene precautions to protect themselves.
• If pets show any signs of ill health, owners should seek the advice of their veterinary surgeon as soon as possible.

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.

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.

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.

Advice for parents

As the evening gets lighter children are out and about more, 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.