Joining forces to tackle flooding threat

EMERGENCY services are joining forces for a flooding exercise.

Cleveland Fire Brigade are hosting the exercise, developed by the Cleveland Emergency Planning Unit, where public, voluntary and private sector agencies will come together to demonstrate how flood plans will work to ensure public safety.

The exercise will take place at the brigade’s headquarters in Queens Meadow, Hartlepool, tomorrow from 9.30am to 3.30pm.

The scenario will include the preparation and response to flooding from severe weather, rivers and the sea.

It is being undertaken as part of a national drive named Exercise Watermark to test emergency response against surface water, river and reservoir failure, or tidal flooding.

Stuart Marshall, principal emergency planning officer at Cleveland Emergency Planning Unit, said: “The scenario has been developed to test how the public will be warned, what preparations will be put in place by agencies prior to flooding, how the different agencies will respond whilst ensuring actions are coordinated and recovery once the water levels drop.

“After the exercise we will address any identified areas of weakness to further improve our plans and procedures.”

Phil Lancaster, director of community protection at Cleveland Fire Brigade, said: “Climate change predictions have shown us that flooding is likely to become more frequent and so it is vital that we are prepared as possible.

“With 23,000 homes and businesses at high risk of river and coastal flooding in the North-East, it is essential for us to be part of Exercise Watermark to ensure the plans in place are robust and that all agencies work well together to help reduce the impact a major flooding incident could have on our local communities.”

Chief Inspector Mick Williams, of Hartlepool Police, said: “We have seen in other areas of the country how flooding can devastate lives for a great length of time.

“By taking part in this exercise, we can ensure that we are adequately prepared to serve members of the public should anything similar happen in our area.”