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

 

Canalside Flood Assistance Centre Meeting

The Canalside Flood Assistance Centre will take place tomorrow, Wednesday 7 May at the Canalside Conference Centre in Bridgwater.

Running from 5.30pm until 8pm the meetings are a chance for people who have been affected by the flooding to meet, talk and access a variety of agencies that can offer advice covering everything from insurance and grants to emotional support. All the relevant agencies involved in flood recovery are represented. Advice and assistance will be available from 5.30pm, with agencies available to answer any questions from 6pm.

Environment Agency flood surgeries

The Environment Agency is holding more flood surgeries in the coming weeks, as well as the session in East Lyng today (6 May).

The drop-in events are an opportunity for residents to discuss the recent flooding event, recovery, dredging and future resilience with the agency and relevant partners.

The details are as follows:

  • Tuesday, 6 May, 4-7pm: Small Hall, North Petherton Community Centre.

Covering Northmoor Green, Moorland and West Yeo.

  • Thursday, 8 May, 4-7pm: St Peter’s Church Hall, North Newton.

Covering Fordgate including Little Moor, Petherton Park and Huntworth.

  • Tuesday, 13 May, 4-7pm: St Peter’s Church Hall, North Newton.

Covering North Newton including Northmoor Corner, Chadmead, Tuckerton, Bankland

  • Thursday, 15 May, 3.30-6.30pm: St Martin’s Church Hall, Kingsbury Episcopi

Covering Thorney including Newtown

  • Tuesday 27 May, 4-7pm: Aller Village Hall, High Street.

Covering Aller including Aller Drove, Combe and Pathe

  • Thursday 29 May, 4-7pm: Willows and Wetlands Centre, Stoke St. Gregory.

Covering Stathe including Oath, Wick and West Sedgemoor Area

Please note, if you attend one of these events you are invited to complete a short online survey which you can find through the following link. The survey is confidential and will help us make sure that these events are as useful as possible. http://feedback1.environmentagency.uk.com/s3/Feedback-survey

 

Dredging update

The Environment Agency continues to dredge on the northern bank of the River Parrett and have now started dredging on the opposite bank. It has now dredged over 355m of the River Parrett and removed around 6,500m3 of silt.

Over the next couple of weeks, dredging will continue downstream on both banks of the River Parrett and the agency will be setting up its main compound at Gillards in Burrowbridge.

A blog at https://environmentagency.blog.gov.uk/ is being used to share personal stories about the work.

 

General Advice and Support

 

This advice and information is for people returning to flood affected homes and areas. More detailed information is available direct from the contacts at the end of this leaflet.

 

Your Safety and Health

General advice

  • Don’t turn on gas or electrics until they have been checked by a qualified technician.
  • Ensure good ventilation if using portable indoor heating appliances to dry out indoor spaces. Don’t use petrol or diesel generators indoors – exhaust gases can kill.
  • Contact friends and family for support. Feeling tired, anxious and having problems sleeping is normal after being flooded.

Food and water

  • Phone your water company or local council to ask if your water is safe to drink/wash in.
  • Drink boiled or bottled water until you have thoroughly washed and flushed all taps – 15 minutes for kitchen tap, 2 minutes for all others.
  • Contact Wessex Water (0845 6004600) if you are concerned about the taste of your water, think pipe work has been damaged or are concerned your supply may be contaminated by oil.
  • Don’t eat food that has touched floodwater.
  • Wash your hands regularly in clean warm water with soap or hand gel.

Mould

It doesn’t present any health problems to most people, but prolonged exposure may aggravate asthma and eye/nose irritation. Speak to your GP if you have concerns.

Heating, dehumidifiers and good ventilation can help dry out your home and control mould. Small areas of mould can be removed easily with solutions from hardware stores.

Health FAQs

For more information about flood-related topics, such as preparing food safely, washing and drinking water safely, visit www.hpa.org.uk.

You can also call 111 or your GP for advice in the normal way. In a medical emergency you should still dial 999.

Pets
The risk of disease to pets and livestock from floodwater is low. Minimise it by:
• Stopping your pets from going into any areas affected by sewage spill.
• Cleaning-up any obvious contamination and take hygiene precautions.
• Seek the advice of your vet as soon as possible if pets show any signs of ill health.

Cleaning up

Insurance

  • Call your insurance company as soon as possible and follow their advice.
  • Take photographs before you start cleaning. Ask your insurer before discarding items that can’t be cleaned (e.g. mattresses and carpets).
  • Check with your insurance company before removing flood-damaged items from your home in case they need to be retained or recorded.
  • Your insurance should arrange or pay for removal of all flood-damaged items (e.g. with skips); do not dispose of them in your kerbside refuse bin.

Practical tips

  • Wear rubber boots, gloves and masks to clean up. Wash clothes used for cleaning separately.
  • Clean all hard surfaces (e.g. walls, floors) with hot water and detergent.
  • Wash your hands thoroughly after each clean-up session. Keep open cuts or wounds clean and covered with plasters to prevent them from being exposed to flood water.
  • Heating, dehumidifiers and good ventilation can help dry out your home.
  • Wash soft items (e.g. clothing, bedding, soft toys) on a 60cwash with detergent.

Clear-out assistance

If, after speaking to your insurance company you need further help, contact your district council. If appropriate volunteers may help you clear up and remove waste.

Refuse and recycling collections

All waste collections in flood-affected areas are back to usual on their usual days. For details, visit the Somerset Waste Partnership (SWP) website www.somersetwaste.gov.uk.

Waste removal services

If you are arranging waste removal, whether funded yourself or by insurers, please avoid rogue clear-up and removal services that will fly-tip your waste. Ask to see a ‘waste carrier licence’ or call 03708 506 506 to check.

Businesses affected by floods needing waste removed should check with their insurers first and use commercial waste services.

And as an additional channel for refuse and recycling, Bridgwater Saltlands Recycling Centre (and the centres at Frome, Minehead, Taunton, Yeovil) will be open seven days a week, including Sundays, 8am-4pm.

Asbestos

You must assess the likelihood of asbestos being in your property before carrying out refurbishment work. For insured properties, the loss adjuster and any subsequent builder can make arrangements for an assessment to be made if necessary.

For uninsured properties, Somerset County Council’s Asbestos Team (01823 355195) can make a visual assessment and advise.

For details of where and how to dispose of asbestos, visit the SWP website. Asbestos and products that are likely to contain it, such as storage heaters, require special handling. Seven recycling centres can accept this waste, but must be called in advance. SWP also offers a paid-for asbestos collection service.

Nothing that could be asbestos or may contain it should be placed in refuse bins, or skips without checking in advance with the skip provider.

 

Financial and other support

 

Welfare, benefits and Environmental Health information

District councils can give you help and advice around:

  • Temporarily homelessness, housing benefits, and business rates relief.
  • Council Tax reduction for the time your property is uninhabited because of flooding.
  • Environmental Health services, such as dealing with septic tanks.

Grants

A grant of £250 is available to alleviate the immediate financial hardship for people with flooded homes or who have been evacuated due to flooding. Grants of £150 – £1,000 may also be awarded to households directly and indirectly affected by the floods. Contact Somerset Community Foundation on (01749) 344949 or download the application form from www.somersetcf.org.uk

Repair and Renew grants

Grants of up to £5,000 are available for home owners and businesses directly affected by the floods to use to help reduce the risk of flooding of their properties in the future.

The Government-funded Repair and Renew Grant scheme can be used towards the cost of work over and above repairs that would normally be covered by insurance.

Affected residents need to apply to their local district council:

Sedgemoor Planning

Sedgemoor District Council has a designated planning officer who can help with enquiries about planning permission for mobile homes in gardens of flood affected properties. It has also put in place a simple notification process, which avoids the needs for affected residents to make more complex planning applications. Call (01278) 435288 or email colin.arnold@sedgemoor.gov.uk

Donations
Donations, from food and toiletries, to clothes and bedding, are being kept in the old Somerfield distribution centre at Huntworth Business Park, near Junction 24 in Bridgwater. It’s open on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from 10am until 3pm if you’ve been affected and need supplies. Please bring ID with you just so that we can confirm your address.

Crime prevention advice and help

All the agencies and volunteers working in the flood affected area should have ID so please ask to see it if you have any concerns.

Police continue to have a significant presence in the flood-affected area, and you are encouraged to take the usual precautions: register your property on www.immobilise.com don’t leave drying items outside your house when you are not there, always lock doors and windows when leaving your property, don’t leave packaging for new goods outside your home, keep valuable items like copper piping and tools somewhere out of site.

The Police Flood Team are available to conduct Crime Reduction Surveys for people’s properties and can assist with property marking and registration, please contact the team to arrange a visit. Mobile phone numbers, staffed by the Flood Team, have been set up for residents of the evacuated villages to call regarding policing and security, or if they see anything suspicious. These will be in operation 24/7 but will not replace the 999 emergency number. For Burrowbridge call: 07939507200 and for Moorland & Fordgate: 07957432828

Information Points

Information and support is available from various places (details may change in the coming weeks so please try and check before visiting).

  • Fortnightly flood drop-in meetings at the Canalside Conference Centre, from 5.30-8pm where you will find representatives from all the main agencies involved offering advice and practical support.
  • Moorland and Fordgate Community Hub which provides a place for the community to meet and find information. Tea and coffee facilities and bookable meeting rooms are available.
  • Burrowbridge old school building offering support including clean-up equipment, laundry facilities and internet access. Opening times vary, please call 01823 398300 to check.
  • The EA is holding twice weekly drop-in sessions at the Old School Rooms in Burrowbridge on a Tuesdays 3-5pm and Thursdays 9am-11am. Please come along and ask any questions you have about the dredging work. You can also find weekly updates on the EA website www.gov.uk/government/publications/somerset-levels-and-moors-reducing-the-risk-of-flooding
  • Langport Information Centre, Bow Street. Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 9am to 2pm, for help with South Somerset District Council services. Phone 01458 253527.

Village Agents:

Community Council for Somerset has Village Agents offering advice and support:

Useful contact numbers

All flooding enquiries

The starting point for people seeking information about flood related issues is

Somerset County Council’s Somerset Direct number 0845 345 9166, staffed Monday to Friday, 8am to 6pm, and on Saturdays from 9am to 4pm.

Where possible, Somerset Direct will provide the information itself, and where necessary it will sign-post callers to the most appropriate agency or contact number.

Local Volunteer Support – Visit the Flooding on the Levels Action Group – FLAGSomerset – on Facebook or contact via the Burrowbridge information centre on 01823 698300

Police – 101 for general calls and 999 for emergency calls.

e-mail: floodinginsomerset@avonandsomerset.police.uk or use the form on the Police website.


Environment Agency Floodline
– 0345 9881188

Helpline – For independent advice on all aspects of flooding, including insurance issues, phone the National Flood Forum Helpline on (01299) 403055 or visit www.floodforum.org.uk
Local Councils:

  • Sedgemoor District Council:

Tel: 0845 408 2540 or 01278 435435. Outside of office hours: 0800 917 6520.

Email: customer.services@sedgemoor.gov.uk, website: www.sedgemoor.gov.uk

  • South Somerset District Council:

Tel: 01935 462462 with an out of hours service for emergencies.

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.

Email: enquiries@tauntondeane.gov.uk, website: www.tauntondeane.gov.uk

  • Somerset County Council:

Roads and Transport 0845 345 9155

Adult Social Care 0845 345 9133

General Enquiries 0845 345 9166

 

Electricity – Western Power Distribution: 0800 365 900, website: www.westernpower.co.uk

EDF Energy: 0800 056 3264 (8am – 6pm)

 

Gas – Emergency – National Grid: 0800 111 999.

General enquiries – National Grid: 0845 835 1111, website: www.nationalgrid.com/uk

 

National Farmers Union – Email: south.west@nfu.org.uk, website www.nfuonline.co.uk

 

Health and wellbeing

24 hour health care advice – NHS Direct 111

Mindline – 01823 276892 Line open: Friday, Saturday, Sunday 8pm-12am

Samaritans – Taunton 01823 288 998 (24hr); Yeovil 01935 476455

Somerset Carers Network – 01749 836 633