Saturday, 26 April 2014

Week 4 - Milestone Ministerial Recovery Meeting

Repairs planned for 2014

Newlyn Harbour Wall Cornwall

Erosion at Hemsby

Somerset Levels

Flood Defences repaired by March 2014

Follow me on Twitter @SallySudworth
After the Easter break the team went back into full drive to process the last of the local authority submissions. At the Flood & Coastal Risk Business Board I talked through the emerging picture prior to completing the report for submission to the Ministerial Recovery Group. The good news: we have spent the
maximum allocated for us in the last financial year with an out-turn of £31m. The big question now? Is the
allocated money for repairs of £135m for this year going to be enough? Defra and the Cabinet were keen to understand the latest picture. At present we have over £100m projects ready to go and many of the repairs are already underway. Start up meetings have been held across the country by our framework contractors so they are now busy planning their work. Military flood defence inspections. As you know these were completed in record time and we now have approximately 1300 flood defences identified for further engineering assessments. These also need to be completed in record time to complete the final picture. Proof reading the factual accounts of the storms that hit the UK left me reeling. From the coastal surge of early December, to further storms over Christmas, yet again around New Year, and then round after round of weather systems travelling through January and February. It was a gruelling read and not surprising that we now have the largest ever recovery programme underway. Some people are still flooded from continued groundwater. “all time record wind speed for the North Atlantic jet stream” “lowest barometric pressure recorded at Stornaway since 1886” “the wettest Winter on record ever recorded” “unprecedented series of low pressure systems” “ a record maximum significant wave height of 7.92m was observed on the 15th February in Poole Bay” Personal highlight of the week. This was attending the last Regional Flood & Coastal Committee meeting as Flood Exec for the North West. We discussed the recent Spring Floods Conference where the community of professionals engaged in delivery flood defence were enthusiastic and committed. And the future investment programme was agreed to continue to protect people and their livelihoods from flooding. #bestjobintheworld

Sunday, 20 April 2014

Week Three

Flood Defence repairs
Follow me on Twitter on @SallySudworth The deadline for returns from Local Authorities was the 17th April and we are set up to assess the information straight after the Easter break. We are keen to establish the extent of the work that is required and we are really up against the clock. A key part of the review is to understand the learning that can be captured and considered, to improve our standard of service. This is a normal and vital part of our incident management service where we carry out hot debriefs for instant feedback and improvements, as well as holding fuller more extensive debriefings. Some of the emerging themes for the recovery work include looking at how we manage our people and equipment more effectively across the UK as well as improving our communications between the various key meetings (GOLD and COBRA) to ensure that we are consistent in how we convey the very latest data and updates (which can be very challenging when weather conditions are extreme). I will be reporting to the Flood and Coastal Risk Directors of the Environment Agency on the 22nd in order to give them a progress report and the big focus next week will be on the preparation required for Ministerial Recovery Group (MRG) which is on the 24th (this is chaired by Eric Pickles). I attended a meeting with Defra in order to prepare where we discussed the extent of the work and the latest submissions. A key milestone we achieved in week three was the successful appointment of our framework contractors to undertake the programme of repair work to our flood defences. My colleagues in the National Capital Programme Management Service (ncpms) and Procurement worked hard to bring this about in record time! The contracts are design and build so they are now very busy working with our colleagues in our Area teams and with Local Authorities to scope out the work. My personal highlight of the week was looking forward to a long weekend over Easter, in particular to the chocolate fest, having given up chocolate for Lent! Media statement: Many of the flood risk assets that were damaged in the extreme weather since December are already being repaired by the Environment Agency – with repairs to over 350 defences already completed, restoring protection to over 115,000 homes. A further 650 assets have repairs planned or underway, to restore protection to a further 180,000 properties. Environment Agency flood asset inspectors and over 200 members of the armed forces have this month completed an assessment of over 150,000 flood risk management assets across the country. Following the extraordinary combination of severe weather and flooding since early December 2013, the Environment Agency called in assistance from military personnel to help in visually inspecting and recording the condition of England’s flood assets. Dr Paul Leinster, Environment Agency Chief Executive, said: “Many of the flood risk management assets damaged in the extreme weather since December have already been repaired, restoring protection, and peace of mind, to many communities across the country. But there is still much more to do, and thanks to the completed inspections we now have a full picture of the condition of all the flood risk management assets across the country. We have prioritised the most urgent repairs.” Priority repairs have been completed in Weymouth, where sea defences were washed away by stormy seas during January and February, at Greatham Creek in Teeside, where flood waters ripped a fifty metre breach in the sea defence embankment, and at beaches right along the Lincolnshire coast, dune systems are being repaired to restore protection to over 20,000 properties. In Kent, the Denge frontage near Camber was severely affected by the storms. Throughout the winter, Environment Agency staff carried out emergency works to shore up the defences and reduce the risk of flooding to thousands of homes across Romney Marsh. In total more than 40,000 tonnes of shingle was returned along this stretch of the coastline. Further along the Kent coastline sea defences at Hythe Ranges were breached. The Environment Agency has worked closely with the Ministry of Defence and contractors to stabilise the beach and repair the damage. This work has reduced the risk of flooding to 68 mobile homes, 21 residential properties and the A259.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Photos for Week Two

National Learning & recovery Team Selfie

Flood Defence Repairs Locations

National Learning & Recovery Team by the Thames
Military Inspections

Week Two Meeting the Team

Follow me on Twitter on @SallySudworth Follow me on Twitter on @SallySudworth We publish a map on a weekly basis that shows the location of the asset repairs together with the status (green light for funding secured or amber waiting on approval/further information). It’s great at illustrating how the storms of last winter were exceptional and the scale of the work we need to do. Meeting the team was great as you can see from the photographs – our team ‘selfie’ and another taken next to the Thames. We meet regularly in London but will also be meeting on location to track progress on the ground. There was a great buzz and high level of energy at our team meeting and we talked about ‘wellbeing’ in how we manage our workload. My colleagues have successfully delivered the results of the large scale military inspection exercise which are now quality assured. The next step is to carry out engineering assessment at locations deemed vulnerable in order to scope the work required to return the asset to pre-storm condition. This work will then be rolled up with the packages that we are commissioning with our framework contractors and in addition our local crews (who do this work on a daily basis) will also be busy helping to protect local communities. An interesting feature of this week’s Ministerial Recovery Group meeting was the discussion on the £5k grant for individual householders to install flood resilient measures. I picked up a real sense of urgency from ministers in connection with getting the money to where it is needed as quickly and easily as possible. Householders need to get expert advice of course to ensure that they install the right measures that fit their circumstances ie it’s no good installing a flood door if the flood water is going to come up through the floor. Visit the following website for further advice. You can access the £5k grant via your local authority website. We met with our colleagues from Defra to discuss the allocation of funding to carry out these measures. The local authorities have until 17th April to submit details of the repairs required in their area in order to secure funding for their projects. It’s really encouraging to witness this joint approach to managing flood risk across all our flood risk authorities. My personal highlight of the week was walking into the office early Thursday morning. There was a clear blue sky and London looked spectacular in the early morning sunshine. It was a little quieter as many people are off for the Easter Holidays. I’m looking forward to the long weekend over Easter and am hoping the Easter Bunny will arrive having given up chocolate for Lent!

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Week One London

Follow me on Twitter on @SallySudworth Joining the Learning and Recovery Team in London was exciting. Their work is fast paced and I found myself having to run to jump on board! The task we face is immense. We have over 1000 projects around the country to get underway. The government's expectation is to complete the work before the next Winter period. Anyone who is involved in the delivery of infrastucture projects will know what a challenge this is yet where there's a will there's a way! We have £160m worth of civil engineering to put in place! I'll keep you posted on progress. Witnessing democracy in action was fascinating. Eric Pickles chaired the Ministerial Recovery Group meeting in Westminster and I felt the weight of government scrutiny - no pressure then! One of my personal highlights was walking along the Thames on Tuesday evening. Big Ben is spectacular by night! Next week I am going to ask my team to pause and take stock. They have been in incident mode for many weeks and working at that sort of pace isn't sustainable long term. We'll be planning our approach for the next phase of our work and I'm really looking forward to spending time with them all. There will be further Cabinet office meetings to prepare for and attend as well as working with my colleagues in the National Capital Programme Management Service (ncpms) to secure support from our framework contractors. What am I looking forward to the most in the coming year? Well as a civil engineer who is passionate about her work, I'm looking forward to visiting some of the locations that were savaged by the storms, where we will be carrying out repairs to protect people and communities from further flooding. I'll be posting photographs. Since the storms everyone has an opinion on flooding which is brilliant! I hope to work with the experts in helping to get the facts "out there" so that we can all be better prepared to face the future. I'll update the blog at least once a week but follow me on Twitter for daily updates. With a wing and a prayer and an "army" of people working together we can make this happen!