The management of major flood emergencies: taking positive action: accepting that there is an increased level of risk from flooding, what then is the emergency services community doing to meet the need? The Chief Fire Officers Association has commissioned a project in 2005 to develop a standardised response to such disasters.(Special Services)

IN 1953 A MAJOR STORM to the north of the British Isles coincided with a number of other environmental conditions to cause a sea surge event that resulted in the death of 307 people along the east coast of the country and over 2,000 in mainland Europe.

Although early warning systems are now much improved, the current population density and distribution has changed considerably since 1953 with hundreds of thousands of people now living in the known flood risk areas.

It is inevitable that surge events equal to or exceeding the 1953 disaster will occur again. Equally inevitable, is that the UK will face a repeat of major flood events occurring inland due to significant rainfall. Examples include the floods impacting much of North Wales and Central England on Good Friday 1998 and recent events in Bostcastle and Carlisle.

Far from being an alarmist assessment of flood risk in the UK, it is of course entirely possible that future events could be of an even greater magnitude than previous ones, or that both a coastal and inland event could occur simultaneously. Currently some 1.8m homes and 185,000 businesses are at risk of flooding in England and Wales. The asset value sitting in the floodplains is estimated at 200 billion [pounds sterling], and both coastal and inland flood events have the potential for humanitarian and financial disaster.

In the fire and rescue world the likelihood element of any risk assessment is the most difficult and often the most controversial issue to quantify. Scientific predictions for flood frequency and significance are no different, with differences of opinion over whether we are experiencing changes in climatic events, or simply seeing a natural cycle. …

Log in to your account to read this article – and millions more.