Members of Parliament are urging for a reassessment of the failures of the Environment Agency in handling floods in England.
Members of Parliament representing regions in England that were heavily affected by Storm Babet are requesting a reassessment of the shortcomings of the Environment Agency (EA). This comes after reports of certain individuals receiving flood notifications only after their homes were already flooded.
According to Toby Perkins, a member of Parliament for Chesterfield, residents of Tapton Terrace in Derbyshire were notified by the early warning system about flooding only after their homes had already been flooded. This was in response to the death of 83-year-old Maureen Gilbert, who was found dead in flood water at the location mentioned.
Perkins expressed concern that the EA is not adequately equipped to handle the demands of dealing with flooding in the modern age. He acknowledged their efforts, but believes they may not be capable of fulfilling their responsibilities.
The EA representative appeared on television Thursday night reassuring us not to be concerned. A thorough evaluation is necessary and the EA’s capabilities and resources must be strengthened to effectively perform their duties. The significant reduction in funding over the past 13 years cannot be ignored.
According to Perkins, individuals were experiencing feelings of frustration and disappointment regarding the alerts they received. Even a one-hour advance notice could have greatly impacted the severity of the destruction.
During my encounter with a pub owner today, he mentioned, “If I had been given an additional hour of notice, my business may have been able to withstand the current circumstances. However, I fear that I will now suffer significant losses and potentially go bankrupt.”
In Catcliffe, South Yorkshire, approximately 120 residences experienced flooding on Saturday due to the overflow of the River Rother. Sarah Champion, the local Member of Parliament, reported that a volunteer flood warden had alerted the Environmental Agency (EA) about the inundation of nearby flood plains. However, it took six hours for a flood warning to be issued.
According to her, he contacted them around 8:30pm, but many individuals were unaware until the fire department arrived at their residence at four or five in the morning.
Many individuals feel disappointed and believe that their options were limited. If they had been adequately informed, they would have been able to move their vehicles at the very least. The situation has been shocking. The neighborhood has a significant number of council bungalows that were affected by flooding, putting residents at risk of drowning in their own beds.
The lack of preparation by the EA was attributed by the environment secretary, Thérèse Coffey, to the direction of the rain.
During her testimony to the environment, food, and rural affairs committee this week, she explained that the majority of our rain comes from the west. However, in this case, the rain was coming from a different direction and our ability to predict where it would fall accurately was not as strong due to our lack of experience with this type of rain.
The champion stated that the situation was absurd. They explained that rain falls and makes things wet, and it still ends up in the same river. They believe that there was a sense of laziness, thinking they had done enough. This unexpected turn of events completely surprised them.
She requested revised flood analysis nationwide to ensure it accurately predicts flood hazards, and a new rapid notification system to warn people of potential flooding.
She stated that the world and its environment have undergone changes, but the EA has not adjusted their plans to factor that in. She also mentioned that the construction of two new housing estates in Catcliffe has likely worsened the risk of flooding, in addition to the impacts of the climate crisis.
Coffey stated that the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the EA will conduct a swift examination to determine “areas for improvement.”
A representative from the Environment Agency stated: “We are aware of the destructive consequences of flooding and our sympathies go out to those impacted. However, it is false that no alerts were given in Catcliffe. We issued one on Friday morning to caution the community about the potential dangers of Storm Babet.”
“Our teams nationwide worked tirelessly to clear screens, debris, and install defenses, resulting in the protection of over 96,000 properties. We are currently evaluating options for additional support to the Catcliffe community in collaboration with local MPs and the council.”