Two years on from the December 2015 flooding that hit the North of England is a time where we can look back on the changes that have been made and the challenges that people still face following Storms Desmond, Eva and Frank.
One of the key changes has been the introduction of Flood Re to assist homeowners who have been flooded or those that live in a flood risk area to find affordable flood insurance. More information on Flood Re and how it works can be found here.
There is however a little way to go in providing the same assistance to businesses in flood risk areas. Biba have introduced an insurance scheme for businesses, however it does not provide the same level of assurance to business owners as Flood Re does to homeowners. Through our engagement alone we have found many businesses unable to afford flood insurance due to high premiums and excesses leaving many businesses uninsured and some even forced to move locations out of the flood risk area.
Thanks to the Property Level Resilience Grant, many of those that flooded in December 2015 now have property level flood protection measures in place to help protect them against any future flood events. In 2016 and 2017, Newground have assisted homeowners and businesses to access £1.6 million worth of grant funding in Cumbria and Lancashire. Cumbria Community Foundation’s Flood Recovery Fund was a fantastic resource for many people in Cumbria who needed assistance in getting back on their feet, as well as a £2,000 top up grant for those who had applied for the £5,000 resilience grant, to help further protect those who had flooded in December 2015.
Two years may seem a long time, and there is the assumption that recovery from the flood events was completed a long time ago. In reality the effects of the flooding are still being felt by many. People have been left feeling scared or anxious when it rains and others are struggling with the impacts of being displaced and away from their homes for months or in some cases over a year. Help is available for those who are struggling with the impacts on their health and wellbeing, and some helpful information for those who feel they may benefit can be found here.
It is also important to remember that there have been multiple flood events since December 2015, for example Millom in West Cumbria flooded in September 2017 due to extreme amounts of rainfall causing surface water flooding, with over 300 properties flooding despite never having experienced a flood event before. Localised flood events that are caused by surface water flooding are very difficult to predict and communities may not receive Flood Warnings as they may not be in a flood warning area, highlighting the need for as many communities as possible to be prepared for flooding.
One of the major changes in flood risk management has been the inclusion of Natural Flood Management techniques for a more integrated approach. Cumbria alone has been awarded £2.5 million of funding for Natural Flood Management schemes as part of the £15 million being spent on Natural Flood Management across England. It is hoped that by using a more holistic approach to flood management, as well as the traditional engineered flood defences, we will be able to slow the flow of water though our catchments and reduce flood risk. More information on Natural Flood Management can be found here.
Looking back on the last 2 years there have been some significant changes to the way we deal with flooding and some amazing success stories to celebrate, however there is always more that can be done to manage the risk of flooding not just in the North of England but in the whole of the country.