Prompt action to head off Exmouth seafront flood risk

PUBLISHED: 11:50 13 April 2016 | UPDATED: 11:50 13 April 2016

Waves overtopping on Exmouth seafront at the weekend.

Waves overtopping on Exmouth seafront at the weekend.

Archant

Sandbags were at the ready on Exmouth seafront over the weekend, to protect against the risk of flooding from stormy weather conditions.

East Devon District Council Streetscene workers in Exmouth.East Devon District Council Streetscene workers in Exmouth.

East Devon District Council’s (EDDC) StreetScene and REACT teams took to the streets to prepare for predicted high winds, heavy rain, and exceptionally high spring tides, creating the risk of potential coastal flooding through wave overtopping.

The council deployed staff on site throughout the high tides, closely monitoring the situation and liaising with the public on both Saturday and Sunday.

Approximately 900 sandbags were placed in key areas of Exmouth by the council and the Environment Agency, who worked throughout the weekend in close partnership with Devon Highways.

On Saturday, with wave overtopping threatening to flood roads with seawater, critical access points along the seafront were sandbagged, including St Andrew’s Road, Morton Crescent gateways, Alexandra Terrace and Alston Terrace.

In addition to 150 filled sandbags, around 500 empty sandbags were available for residents to collect and fill with sand, which they were able to take from outside the gates to the council’s Camperdown depot.

Devon Highways closed all the appropriate access roads around the seafront, although cars needing to leave the area were still able to do so.

As a precautionary measure, the sandbags remained in place until overnight on Sunday, when it was agreed that the storm had abated and there was no further risk of flooding.

Andrew Hancock, EDDC’s service lead for StreetScene, said: “I am so proud of how well prepared our teams were for the extreme weather conditions.

“From the minute the flood warning was confirmed our guys were ready with sandbags and a clear action plan, based on experience from the storms of 2014 when wave overtopping caused seawater to pour down roads along the seafront, flooding homes and businesses and causing thousands of pounds worth of damage.

“It was altogether a great response to this emergency, even though the storm didn’t impact as strongly as had been predicted, it showed that we were ready to take the necessary appropriate action.”

Councillor Iain Chubb, EDDC’s portfolio holder for the environment said: “I must congratulate StreetScene, REACT, the EA and Devon Highways for their outstanding work over the weekend.

“We’ll be continuing this excellent partnership working by way of the planned flood defence options for Exmouth, which not only has the longest seafront in Devon, but is also the start of the Jurassic Coast UNESCO World Heritage site.

“In June 2016, we’ll be submitting a business case for funding of improved flood defences in Exmouth to the EA, which will include the Esplanade from Mamhead Slipway along to the Clock Tower.

“Detailed design work is likely to start this autumn if we are successful. The scheme would remove the need for sand bagging and provides a far higher standard of protection, however the Esplanade would still need to be closed off during storm events such as these.”

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said: “We acknowledge that it is impossible to completely flood-proof a property, but there are a number of measures to prevent flood-water getting in and limit the damage.

“We list a number of ways to make your home ‘flood resilient’, which will limit the damage and allow residents to return to their property quickly.

“We are working with EDDC to improve the sea and estuary defences in Exmouth.”

EDDC says it is a householder’s responsibility to protect their property from flooding, and it would urge people to prepare in advance for this, by signing up for flood warnings at www.gov.uk/sign-up-for-flood-warnings, or following @eastdevon, @streetsceneops and @EnvAgencySW on Twitter for weather warnings and advice.

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