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.

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