Wye Flood Working Group
The Great Stour in flood at Wye Mill, but surface water flooding is a much bigger problem for Wye.
Wye Parish Council hosted a public presentation by Sanjay Johal from the National Flood Forum The high public attendance at this meeting, reflects the importance of flooding and in Wye and the need to build community resilience.
The severe rain events of April and May 2018 and the subsequent surface water flooding of homes and businesses, remain fresh in the minds of many residents. The Parish Council and the Wye Flood Working Group (FWG) members are working on practical ways to avoid or mitigate future flood risk events.
The National Flood Forum (NFF) is charity, founded to help the public to deal with the whole spectrum of flooding issues. From flood risk assessment, effective flood preventative measures that can be taken, to practical advice on how to deal with a flooding event and advice on how to deal with the aftermath of a flood (from clearing up to house insurance issues) and the National Flood Forum's Helpline 01299 403055.
Sanjay Johal's presentation covered the services that NFF can offer their services in order to articulate the efforts of local flood action groups with the relevant public authorities, landowners and private utility companies. This is one of the most daunting tasks for a local citizen-based flood action group. It is fairly easy to identify what action needs to be taken but much harder to talk to the relevant bodies who can influence or carry out the work required.
Since the flooding events of April and May 2018 the Wye Flood Working Group has been meeting fairly regularly, to examine what can be achieved in order to prevent or mitigate the effects of future catastrophic rain events. The Parish Council is proactive in supporting this resident-led initiative. The group is working with KCC Highways and a representative of the Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership, to identify natural flood management options.
Wye Flood Working Group is tackling the problems on four levels:
1) Taking a landscape level approach to identify options for natural flood management measures to slow flows and manage flash storm events as these can soon overwhelm drainage systems and cause surface water flooding;
2. Working with KCC Highways, Kent Resilience Forum, Environment Agency, the River Stour (Kent) Internal Drainage Board and riparian owners, to maintain and improve drainage assets and minimise risks;
3) Supporting local initiatives e.g. Flood Warden training to monitor and manage problems safely e.g. be prepared to install physical barriers to close roads and divert flood water away from homes and businesses;
4) Enabling individual householders to take practical measures to protect their own properties and prevent damage.
Image: The Great Stour in flood, upstream of Wye bridge. The wide floodplain is doing its job, and the swans in the distance are taking advantage of this temporary lake.
The FWG members have written a combined Flood Action Plan for the Harville Road and Bramble Lane. The Parish Council has endorsed the draft and when Kent County Council (KCC) endorses this Plan it will be lodged with the relevant local government agencies and inform their response to flood events.
These documents show the historic record of flooding in the area, and the trigger levels for action based on experience. When KCC adopts these documents formally as Flood Action Plans, KCC can delegate authority to the Parish Council to act during a flood event. This will give the Parish Council the legal power needed to close roads and provide residents with equipment to deal with the situation.
Serious flood events pose a risk of death or injury to the general public, can leave families homeless, affect businesses and disrupt vital transport links to our community. The Parish Council encourages everyone to take an interest and support WFG initiatives, even if your home is not at risk.
Water meadows by Wye Mill. Water meadows have an important role in river flood management as they provide a temporary storage area for flood water - and excellent 'early bite' grazing.
Wye Mill water meadows. Flood Working Group working party clearing the ditch from Harville Road December 2019. Cllr West is operating the excavator. The bed of this ditch is chalk.