A year after flooding brought misery to thousands across Oxfordshire, ICE president David Orr paid a visit to the local organisations toiling to ensure they will be ready should our rivers and drains overflow again.
Orr saw for himself the Oxfordshire County Council Fire and Rescue Service training for flood rescue operations. They were using state of the art facilities at HR Wallingford simulating the rapid currents and underwater obstacles faced by fire crews.
Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service emergency response manager Richard Bowley said: "During the July floods of 2007 we had to respond to over 2000 calls, with our fire crews working in very hazardous conditions.
The realistic water training facilities at HR Wallingford mean we will be even better prepared when we have to respond to widespread flooding incidents in the future. The additional funding we have received this year has allowed us to carry out this training and also provide dry suits and flood equipment for our fire fighters to use at future flooding incidents."
ICE president David Orr, witnessing the training first hand, said: "I am delighted to see the imaginative way that the engineers and scientists at HR Wallingford and the Oxfordshire Fire and Rescue Service are working so closely together to prepare for the worst effects of flooding."
Orr’s comments reflected the ICE’s view that the government, companies and the public need to defend and manage flood risks better in future. Over £230bn of assets are sited on floodplains in England and Wales and 2M homes are already at risk from flooding.
Climate change forecasts predict that the UK could soon face a major flooding incident every year on average. ICE believes the UK must ensure it is prepared to deal with this increased level of threat, and that the emergency services have the skills and capacity required to cope with the effects heavy flooding.