Press release

St Thomas Emergency Flood Plan to be put to the test

Two exercises will test the emergency flood plan for the St Thomas area of Exeter.

Dave Hubbard, left, and Mike Walling of the St Thomas Community Emergency Group
Dave Hubbard, left, and Mike Walling of the St Thomas Community Emergency Group

Dates and details have been set to test the emergency flood plan in place for St Thomas in Exeter.

The first test, a tabletop exercise, will take place at Danes Castle Fire Station on 12 April, between 7pm and 9.30pm. It will be hosted by Devon Fire and Rescue Service and will include members of the St Thomas Community Emergency Group working alongside the Environment Agency and blue light services.

The purpose of the exercise is to test the plan in response to a flood event in St Thomas based on a real-time scenario.

In May, the second exercise will see the community group, blue light services, the Environment Agency and RNLI inshore rescue team to play out and test the flood scenario in ‘real life’ by deploying equipment and personnel to where they will be needed in the event of a flood.

Mike Walling, the St Thomas Community Emergency Group chairman, said:

It’s vital that we test our plans to check that they are viable. It’s also important that emergency service personnel and community volunteers are well briefed and tested in a real life situation.

Dave Hubbard, from the St Thomas Community Emergency Group, said:

We are delighted to put our plans to the test with the help of the Environment Agency and rescue services. The learning from both exercises will feed into preparation for a real event.

The group recently called for new members to come forward and join. To join the group, email dc.flood@environment-agency.gov.uk quoting St Thomas Community Emergency Group, or call and ask for Devon and Cornwall Flood Resilience Team on 03708 506 506.

Follow us on Twitter @EnvagencySW.

Note to Editors:

Exeter St Thomas is one of 52 communities in the South West at a very high risk of flash flooding.

How can I prepare for flooding?

View the Environment Agency’s flood map to check if your home or businesses is at risk of flooding. Learn how to protect your home, family and possessions, using the 3 steps to safety:

  1. be aware - you are likely to have little or no warning - never risk your life and
  2. do not walk or drive through flood water
  3. get to safety - understand where to go if you get caught in a flash flood

Step 1 - be aware

People generally underestimate the risk to their safety. Flash flooding happens very suddenly:

  • it may flood before emergency services arrive
  • rivers may flood to heights above defences
  • watch for signs that a river or stream is about to flood. It may be fast flowing. Its water may be discoloured and contain debris
  • listen for weather warnings on the radio and TV

Step 2 - never risk your life

Most injuries and deaths caused during a flash flood happen when people try to cross a watercourse on foot or in a vehicle. Never underestimate the danger of water:

  • it only takes 15cm (6 inches) of fast flowing water to knock over an adult
  • there may be hidden dangers in the water including rubble, vegetation and exposed drains
  • it only takes 60cm (2 feet) of water to lift and sweep away a 4x4 car or small lorry

Step 3 - get to safety

Attempting to leave the area may not necessarily be the best thing to do in a flash flood. If you know where to move to in a flash flood you are more likely to stay safe.

  • if possible move to a higher storey
  • stay where you are and wait for instructions from the emergency services
  • if you are considering evacuation, think about how close you are to the flooding and if you can move without walking or driving through flood water
  • identify safe routes away from the likely location of flash flooding

If you are in a vulnerable place or get caught outside:

  • seek shelter in the nearest two-storey (or higher) building or go to higher ground
  • call 999 if you are trapped

Acting now and planning what you would do in the event of a flood could minimise the potential damage and distress that flooding causes.

Published 8 April 2016