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- Heavy rainfall expected this weekend
- January has already broken rainfall records
- Military remain on standby to deal with floods
FIRST details of the Government backed high level plan to help prevent and manage potential future flooding of the Somerset Levels has been revealed.
Environment Secretary Owen Paterson asked for a 20 year “action plan” to be on his desk within six weeks during a visit to Somerset’s flooded communities earlier this week.
Urgent meetings including Local Authorities, Local Agencies and Defra have now resulted in the broad areas that will be addressed by the plan.
Areas covered include:
• Dredging and rivers management
• A potential sluice or barrage on the River Parrett.
• The management of the entire river catchment, from rain falling on hills through to drainage and water storage systems
• Resilience of infrastructure including road, rail and sewage systems
• Community and business adaptation and resilience
• Funding the plan
John Osman, Leader of Somerset County Council. said: "I am delighted that the County Council along with all key people in the District Councils, partner agencies and Defra have come together so quickly and that there is already significant progress.
"We will be building on the work and experience gained over many years and the task is to pull all this together in a form that has been requested; but we are confident of meeting the Minister’s deadline.
"I would also like to stress that a key part of the plan is to talk to the people who really know and understand the Levels and Moors – the farmers, the residents and the communities who live there.”
AVON and Somerset Chief Constable Nick Gargan today assured communities affected by the Somerset floods that the authorities are fully prepared for whatever the weekend might bring, with further help on standby if needed.
Mr Gargan, visiting the control room at Taunton police station where agencies are working together to mitigate the flooding impact, said: “We understand the concerns of local communities.
"Our priority is to help local people as much as we can. Staff from all the agencies are continuing to work together to do everything they can to mitigate the impact of the flooding.
“We’re paying particular attention to the needs of those forty or so households that are flooded and those that are isolated because of the flooding.
"Together with our partners, we’re constantly reviewing and assessing the needs of those affected communities and responding with support where we need to.
“We thank local charities such as Red Cross who have been invaluable in their support, as well as MoD and other services for their assistance.
“Should the threat become more extreme we have contingencies in place but at this time we have the resources and plans in place to deal with the incoming weather."
Military planners are currently working with Somerset County Council to determine what support the MOD can offer communities affected by floods.
In addition personnel have been surveying the area in order to scope potential requirements. We have a range of capabilities in the Somerset area which stand ready to assist.
THE Environment Agency have issued six severe 'danger to life' flood warnings now in Devon and Cornwall.
There are no severe flood warnings issued for Somerset at this stage, only flood warnings and flood alerts.
West Somerset will be badly hit by high tides tomorrow, road closures planned along the seafront.
DURING his visit, Prince Charles will meet with farmers, members of the emergency services and local authorities, and volunteers who have helped throughout the crisis in Stoke St Gregory before visiting the flood-hit communities of Muchelney and Thorney.
Somerset County Council chairman, David Fothergill, said: “I’m delighted that The Prince of Wales will visit us and take the time to see the full extent of the crisis that has hit our county for the second year in a row.
"I’m sure residents will feel reassured by the visit and will make the Royal Party very welcome.
“I’m sure that, like the council, the Prince will want to thank the many volunteers who have pitched in to help out all those suffering as a result of these floods.”
Somerset County Council and South Somerset District Council said the visit had been planned for months.
A county council spokesman said: "It came after extensive flooding to the county last year and has been planned since May.
"His visit coincides with further even more extensive flooding this winter."
Cllr Mike Best, chairman of South Somerset District Council said: ”This visit is hugely significant given His Royal Highness’s knowledge, understanding and close involvement in farming.
"He will see at first hand the impact of the flooding on the farming community in South Somerset."
HRH The Prince of Wales is coming to Somerset on Tuesday to see for himself the devastation caused by flooding, it has just been announced.
THE Met Office has issued an amber warning for rain in the South-West today.
Yesterday, members of the military arrived in Somerset to offer support, but they remain on standby after it was decided firefighters could deal with the situation for now, having supplied an extra ten pumps to manage floodwater.
Patrick Flaherty, deputy chief executive of Somerset County Council, said: “The military have come in at short notice, worked with our teams to assess what’s needed and what’s required and the fire service has met that need through its national specialist vehicles and trained staff.
“With potential flooding coming up over the weekend and flooding ongoing for weeks ahead, we now have any military help and support very much on call.
“Our communities will be extremely grateful to the fire service for the provision of their specialist vehicles that they have sourced from around the country.”
A FURTHER inch of rain is predicted to fall today across parts of southern England, and the forecast is for more heavy rain in our region over the weekend.