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

Transport

Oath to Wick/Langport – the flood waters have receded enough for the 4×4 vehicles to stop today (19.3.14).

Muchelney to Langport – 4×4 vehicles, operated by the County Council’s highway contractor, Skanska, are likely to stop operating tomorrow (20.3.14).

Help and advice from Sedgemoor District Council at Moorland

A representative from Sedgemoor District Council will be on site, based in a portakabin outside Moorland Village Hall, between 10am and 4pm to help provide advice and support to Sedgemoor residents. Over the weekend, councillors will be on shift between 10am and 4pm.

Staff and members will be a point of contact for residents for SDC issues and questions and signposting residents in the right direction.  If they cannot answer immediately, they will take details and respond accordingly.

Flooding Assistance Centre (FAC)

Starting this week, the FAC will be open at the Canalside Conference Centre in Bridgwater from 4.00 pm to 8.00pm on Wednesday. This is to make it easier for people attending the weekly public meeting to access the information and advice services. The Flooding Assistance Centre offers a range of services and advice for people affected by, or who are likely to be, affected by flooding.  If there is a demand, the Centre will open on Saturdays from mid April.

Asbestos advice

It is possible, due to their age, that some flooded properties may contain building materials that contain asbestos. There is a duty under the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006 for an assessment to be made as to the likelihood of asbestos being in any premise built prior to the year 2000 before carrying out any refurbishment works.

For those properties who are insured, the loss adjuster and any subsequent surveyor/builder will be in a position to make a arrangements for an assessment to be made if they deem it necessary.

For those properties that are not insured, Somerset County Council’s Asbestos Team will be available on request to attend the properties to make a Visual assessment on the presence of any asbestos containing materials. Advice will be given on how to proceed if asbestos materials are identified. Please contact Sharon Larkman to make arrangements for an assessment on 01823 355195 or 07919540853.

General advice and support

 

 Take care as the waters recede

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

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

If you are moving back into your property please keep your District Council updated. 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 published a document called ‘Guidance on recovery from flooding: essential information for frontline responders’, which is 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 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.

Mould is unlikely to pose any health risks, however, for people with asthma and eye/nose irritation there is some evidence that links prolonged exposure to high levels of mould can aggravate 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 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

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:

  • 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.

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.

SWP Flood Waste Advice

Household waste collection

From this week, Somerset Waste Partnership is resuming all waste collections to all flood areas with both recycling and refuse pick-ups this week and next week on usual days.

Muchelney and Thorney – Tuesday

Burrowbridge – Wednesday

Moorland and Fordgate – Thursday

More details below can be found at:

http://www.somersetwaste.gov.uk/2014/03/waste-collections-resume-in-flood-areas/

More advice of floods and waste can be found at:

http://www.somersetwaste.gov.uk/collections/bad-weather/

Sandbags
Any clean sandbags can be stored for future use. If you have sandbags that have been in floodwater, public health advice is that you should dispose of them.

You must wear gloves when handling sandbags, and wash them thoroughly afterwards. Residents are asked to move sandbags to a safe point outside their property for pick-up. Please be patient as this may take a few days. Do not add sand or sandbags to your kerbside refuse bin.

If you have an individual skip for flood-damaged items, sandbags can be added to that. They can also be taken to your nearest recycling centre (contact staff on arrival), or – in Moorland only – by official volunteers to the temporary clear-up centre.

Sandbags on public land, alongside watercourses or put into position by the Environment Agency should not be moved.

What about used sandbags on roads and footways?
Somerset County Council’s Highways Team, in conjunction with the Environment Agency, will remove sand bags from the roads and footways.

Dead animals

What do I do if I find an animal carcass on my property?

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

If on a farm you should seek advice on correct disposal from the Animal Health and Veterinary Laboratories Agency (AHVLA). Please see also the Environment Agency guidance Flood advice for the agricultural sector under ‘Advice for the Farming community’.

How do I safely dispose of food waste?

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, or 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 in handling food, but extra care is needed with food for recycling or disposal that has come into contact with flood water, including washing hands thoroughly.

How do I deal with hazardous materials in flood-affected properties?

Removing some materials from flood-affected properties will need special care. Alert insurers, waste removal services or volunteers about hazardous materials. These may be taken to any recycling centre (contact staff on arrival): antifreeze, batteries, DIY and garden chemicals, engine oil and other vehicle fluids for brakes, steering etc, gas bottles, low energy light bulbs and fluorescent tubes, paint, vehicle tyres. Gas bottles and vehicle tyres incur charges. Only some recycling centres take asbestos or plasterboard; for asbestos, ring the recycling centre in advance to check there is space and follow bagging instructions. Contact the police to dispose of ammunition or explosives. Contact your district council for a clinical waste collection, including sharps or needles.

Pharmacies will take back unused medicines. For hazardous materials advice, call Somerset Direct on 0845 3459188 or check www.somersetwaste.gov.uk/sites/recycling-sites/hazard/ .

How can I get replacement waste containers?

Those returning to previously flooded or flood-bound homes that are now accessible to waste vehicles should tell Somerset Waste Partnership if they need replacement waste containers via their district council.

What about special collections such as clinical waste and assisted collection

Let Somerset Waste Partnership know if you need clinical or assisted collections via your district council.

What can I take to recycling centres?

All recycling centres are operating on their usual schedules, accepting 30 or more materials, including refuse and sandbags (see sandbag advice, above). For more information on recycling centres, including opening hours, materials taken, fees and charges, and how to handle hazardous materials (see hazardous materials advice, above), contact Somerset Direct on 0845 3459188 or check www.somersetwaste.gov.uk/sites .

Where can I go to arrange waste removal services myself?

For skips and other waste services, check business directories, Yellow Pages or their online equivalents. 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 their name, phone and vehicle registration number.

How should businesses deal with their flood waste?

Businesses affected by floods that need to remove waste must check with their insurers first and use commercial waste services.

Information Points

  • Community Contact Vehicles (mobile police stations) are operating in Burrowbridge, Moorland and Fordgate.
  • 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 will be in Moorland, based in a portakabin outside Moorland Village Hall, between 10am to 4pm to help provide advice and support to Sedgemoor residents. Over the weekend, councillors will be on shift between 10am to 4pm. Staff and members will be a point of contact for residents for SDC issues and questions and signposting residents in the right direction.  If they cannot answer immediately, they will take details and respond accordingly.
  • The Flood Assistance Centre (FAC) is being moved from the YMCA in Bridgwater to the Canalside Conference Centre and the opening hours are being changed. Starting this week, the FAC will be open from 4pm to 8pm on Wednesday at the Canalside Conference Centre, Bridgwater. This is to make it easier for people attending the weekly public meeting to access the information and advice services. The Flooding Assistance Centre offers a range of services and advice for people affected by, or who are likely to be, affected by flooding.  If there is a demand, the Centre will open on Saturdays from mid April.
  • Somerset County Council (SCC) is working alongside the Flooding on the Levels Action Group (FLAG) from 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.

Flood Recovery Advice and Information Roadshows

Residents are invited to come along to Flood Recovery Advice and Information Roadshows this week.  The small-scale, multi-agency events are providing advice and information and answering questions for people returning to flood-hit communities. They will also be listening to residents about the sort of support they need.

Thursday, 20 March

  • Chadmead 10.30 to 11.45 Off Middlemoor Drove
  • North Newton 11.50 to 13.00 outside the village hall
  • East Lyng 13.15 to 14.45 the Rose and Crown Car Park

As well as staff from Somerset County Council whose responsibilities include highways, other relevant agencies are due to be represented, such as waste, Public Health, the Environment Agency and the relevant district council.

Over heating hay in barns

If you have any hay stacks or hay stored in barns, please can you make sure you look out for any rises in temperature, signs of smoke or the smell of burning. Where farms or properties are not occupied, due to flooding or flood damage, please can you make regular visits to check.

Where possible, if hay has become wet from flood water, please remove some or all of the hay from the barn to create small stacks that allow ventilation around stacks, which will reduce the heat. Or place wasted or discarded hay in the open away from buildings or other places of risk, should fire occur within the hay. The Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service would like to encourage you to safely dispose of hay, following the advice from waste disposal contractors and not to burn it.

If fire is suspected, please phone 999 with the address, location and information of what is on fire, quantities and whether any other hazards are involved, together with the materials of construction if within a building.

Further safety advice is available at www.dsfire.gov.uk.

Crime prevention advice and help

  • There will continue to be many staff from emergency services, local authorities, charities, such as the Red Cross and volunteers, working in the flood affected areas. Everyone working on the flood relief operation should have some form of ID and local residents are encouraged to ask for ID. If you have concerns about why someone is in the area, contact the police.
  • You can have a Crime Reduction Survey conducted at your property, please contact Sgt Linham or her team to arrange a visit.
  • Register your property on http://www.immobilise.com. The team can also help you with this. Please contact them to arrange a visit.
  • Wherever possible, don’t leave items drying outside your properties when you aren’t there.
  • Always make sure you are locking doors, windows and gates when you are leaving your property.
  • Don’t leave the packaging from new goods outside your house, either take it to the designated refuse areas or where appropriate, have it collected.
  • If you are starting to have work done or undertaking work yourself, don’t leave copper piping, tools, materials or ladders on display. Store them somewhere out of sight if you can.

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.

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.