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Working for Wye - past, present and future

Wye Flood Working Group

River Stour in flood at Wye. Surface water flooding is unpredictable and a much bigger problem for Wye

Image: The Great Stour in flood at Wye Mill, but surface water flooding is a much bigger problem for Wye.

FLOODING ISSUES

On Saturday 9th February the 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, are fresh in the minds of many residents. The Parish Council and the Wye Flood Working Group (FWG) are investigating 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 have been very proactive in the support of this resident initiative. The group is working with KCC Highways and a representative of the Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership, who deal with natural flood management.

Wye Flood Working Group is tackling the problems on three levels:

1) A landscape level approach to identify options for natural flood management measures to slow flows and manage surface water flooding;

2) Local initiatives and physical barriers to close roads and divert flood water away from homes and businesses;

3) Measures that individual householders can take 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 Flood Action Plan for the Harville Road residents. Kent County Council (KCC) has endorsed this Plan, as has the Parish Council. The Plan will be lodged with the relevant local government authorities. Bramble Lane residents are working up a similar Flood Action Plan.

These documents show the historic record of flooding in the area, and the trigger levels for action based on experience. When KCC accepts 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 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 with sheep. Water meadows play a key part in river flood management as they provide temporary storage for flood water - and excellent 'early bite' grazing

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.