The Environment Agency has outlined an extensive repair programme worth around £10 million in Cumbria as it builds on 100 days of vital flood recovery work following record-breaking wet weather in December.
More than 3,000 flood defences have been inspected and around 100 repair projects identified across the county as part of the programme of work due to be completed by the autumn this year.
Sunday 13 March marks 100 days since Cumbria experienced the highest amount of rainfall ever recorded in a 24-hour period, with more than 341mm measured at Honister. Storms and heavy rain throughout December led to it becoming the wettest month on record, with 14 rivers across the north recording their highest ever flows.
Around 6,300 homes, businesses and farms were flooded as a result of the extreme weather. Recovery work led by the Environment Agency over the past 100 days has seen teams working around the clock to assess and repair damage to flood defences in time for next winter. Work so far has included repairs at Appleby and the removal of 30,000 tonnes of gravel washed downstream in Kendal, Keswick and Glenridding.
Work is also underway to identify what more can be done to reduce the risk of flooding in future. Flood Support Officers have visited more than 100 communities to provide advice and hear from those affected. The Environment Agency continues to hold a series of flood forums alongside Cumbria County Council so that local communities can help to shape future plans.
The Environment Agency has also added 1,600 properties to its free flood warning service. Next week, 1,600 homes in Cumbria will receive a message to their landline or mobile to notify them that they have been added to the service. This follows ongoing work to survey 80 locations in Cumbria, review river models and update flood maps to identify areas at potential risk of flooding.
Kath Tanner, Flood Recovery Manager at the Environment Agency, said:
This winter’s flooding has had a devastating effect on people in Cumbria and the Environment Agency is doing everything possible to restore protection to communities with a repair programme underway worth around £10 million.
As well as carrying out emergency repairs, inspecting defences and clearing thousands of tonnes of gravel from rivers, we have also been visiting communities to hear from those people affected. We want to tap into local knowledge and give local people a chance to shape our plans for the future to ensure we have the best possible plans in place to reduce the risk of flooding.
The Cumbrian Floods Partnership, set up in December, will review flood defences in the county focusing initially on the rivers Derwent, Kent and Eden. It will also examine upstream actions which can be taken to reduce river flows and strengthen the involvement of local residents and communities in flood defence planning. The partnership, chaired by Floods Minister Rory Stewart, consists of community groups, the Environment Agency and local authorities. They will publish an action plan later this year.
Minister Rory Stewart said:
There has been the most moving and impressive response across Cumbria to the floods, right from communities to volunteers, the emergency services and local authorities.
I’m particularly pleased that we have been able to secure serious government commitments towards the repairs of our roads and bridges, and to provide grants to houses, businesses and farms - both to recover and to be more resilient in the future.
We are also taking action to better protect the county from flooding in the future through the Cumbria Flood Partnership. This will bring together local authorities, the Environment Agency, land owners and local groups so we can look at Cumbria’s river catchments from source to sea and help to better protect the county.
Alongside the recovery work, the Environment Agency is on track to better protect 44,000 properties across England this year through its continued programme of investment in flood defence schemes. This work is part of a £2.3 billion government investment in more than 1,500 flood defence schemes, reducing flood risk to 300,000 properties by 2021.
People can check their flood risk and register for free flood warnings by visiting our website or calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188.