Severe weather and strong winds meant the Environment Agency issued 12 severe weather warnings – and many more flood warnings and alerts – mainly for areas in the northwest and northeast of England, in the runup to this weekend. After a long spell of heavy and persistant rainfall on already saturated ground, rivers were swollen and roads started to experience surface flooding. The heavy rain was caused by moist tropical air, brought about by the remains of ex-hurricane Kate, which began its journey in the Bahamas. The Met Office issued an amber warning, meaning the public should be prepared to take action.
Environment Agency Director of Incident Management Craig Woolhouse said: “Heavy rain is falling on already saturated ground causing rivers to rise and bringing a risk of flooding across the northwest. We urge people to check the risk of flooding in their area, sign up for flood warnings and be prepared to take immediate action.”
Part from clearing debris from rivers and screens, the EA made some of their national stock of Geodesign Barriers available in the region. On 14 November, following a request from the EA, troops of Blackpool-based 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment were deployed to help protecting residents and businesses who were at risk from flooding.
The soldiers were tasked to duties in Whalley and Ribchester in Lancashire’s Ribble Valley and in Braystones and Egremont, on the river Ehen near the Lake District, in Cumbria. Some barrier was also deployed in Warwick Bridge, on the river Eden, in Cumbria.
According to the EA, a total of around 600m of Geodesign Barriers were deployed by the EA and 20 military personnel. Approximately 300m of the total barrier length consisted of the EUR125 Steel Barrier, deployed in 3 hours to protect residents in Ribchester. This, according to Station Officer Julian Williams from Lancashire Fire & Rescue Service, Blackburn with Darwen District was on site in Ribchester and later posted this vimeo on twitter:
Lt Col Hamish Cormack, Commanding Officer of the 2nd Battalion The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, said: “We were called, and we answered brilliantly – smashing the expected recall times and getting people out of the door faster than anyone expected. When the call came, people dropped everything and responded – that is what being ready means.”
“It is good to know our effective temporary flood barriers are being put to good use”, says Britt Warg, the UK Manager for Geodesign Barriers Ltd. “We have been promoting a national response approach in terms of ‘all hands on deck’ for many years now. I am very happy to see the EA and other parties involved in the local resilience fora are starting to adapt this – involving the Army and local fire brigades as and when needed. Part from its obvious purpose, to provide vital protection against the flood water for residents, businesses and infrastructure, operations like these give the Army excellent and very real training in coordination and team work.”