TEST Valley villages must have their own emergency action plans to deal with flooding.
That’s the message from Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service’s community safety officer, Paul Francis, after the wettest winter on record.
He was speaking at a special meeting of the Test Valley Partnership, held on Saturday for councillors, representatives of the Environment Agency and Hampshire Fire and Rescue.
The meeting took place in King’s Somborne, one of the Test Valley villages worst hit by February’s flooding, which mades roads impassable for weeks and inundated homes.
Mr Francis said it was “vital that villages such as King’s Somborne” develop their own resilience.
“Many communities can easily become cut off during incidents like this winter’s flooding. When there is a high demand on our services, as there was during the floods. We have to prioritise our resources and aren’t always able to respond to every single call,” he warned.
“A community emergency plan will help provide responders such as us with key information in order to prioritise those most at need.”
King’s Somborne Parish Council’s emergency flood watch co-ordinator, John Werrett, said the village already had an emergency plan in place.
“We had flood agents in a few streets keeping an eye on the situation. Three of us liaised with agencies and residents of the village,” said Mr Werret.
“We took measures to try to put out information for people so that they knew where to go for help,” he said.
This included posting information on the village website about the availability of sandbags and whether tap water was safe to drink.
He said that a list of emergency contacts was sent to Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service, TVBC and Southern Water, along with the locations of flooded homes and overflowing sewers.
However, the parish councillor agreed that a detailed database was needed of flood contacts and vulnerable people which must be updated regularly.
Cross Stores owner, Michelle Qassim, said some people in the village still hadn’t returned to their homes since the flooding.
“Anything that will help is good news. I gather it might be Christmas before some families can move back into their homes.”
She said there were simple measures that could help prevent future flooding problems.
“The stream in the village is full of growth and needs dredging. It would help is that was cleared out,” she asaid.
TVBC leader, Ian Carr, who chaired Saturday’s meeting, said: “I was keen to get all our councillors and emergency response teams together following the flooding to discuss what went on, what could have been done differently and how we could work with residents to put in place plans to respond to major incidents.
“Some of our parishes coped particularly well during the flooding because they already had these plans in place, so I wanted to see how these might be adopted more widely.”