Community on flood alert for exercise

Multi-agency task force meets at Morpeth to view a flood exercise demonstration.'REF 1906130360
Multi-agency task force meets at Morpeth to view a flood exercise demonstration.'REF 1906130360

A new community flood plan for Morpeth will be put to the test.

A ‘live exercise’ will take place in the town on Tuesday evening to test the effectiveness of the new Morpeth Community Agreement.

The agreement has been drawn up by Morpeth Town Council in partnership with Northumberland County Council to set out how community and partner organisations will work together in the event of a flood.

The plan has also had input from Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service, the Environment Agency, Northumbria Police, the Morpeth Flood Action Group (MFAG) and members of community organisations, and will dovetail with the emergency plans of response agencies.

One of the main features is the appointment of Community Resilience Volunteers (CRVs), who will help to put the plan into action. The Environment Agency’s flood warning areas in Morpeth have been divided into eight sub-zones, with a team of CRVs allocated to each one.

In an emergency, a lead volunteer for each sub-zone would feed reports from the ground back to an Information Hub in the Town Hall. Members of the town council would then liaise with the emergency services at the scene, as well as those based at the county council’s Incident Room at the Fire and Rescue Headquarters in West Hartford.

The exercise on Tuesday will provide an opportunity for a potential flooding scenario to be acted out and the CRVs to test the Community Agreement under the jurisdiction of the town council. Other professional responding organisations will also take part.

Morpeth Mayor Nic Best said: “The response of the community of Morpeth after both floods of 2008 and 2012 was absolutely tremendous.

“To ensure that any future flooding events are responded to as efficiently as possible it is important that all partners work together and know what is expected of them, and that is exactly what the new Community Agreement will set out.”

A training event was held at Morpeth Town Hall on Tuesday to prepare the volunteers for the exercise and to make sure they are fully aware of the agreement and the flood plans at county level.

Northumberland County Council Deputy Leader Dave Ledger, who is a member of the Regional Flood and Coastal Committee, said: “We hope that the Community Agreement will help to improve the resilience of local communities when faced with flooding events in the future, and are pleased to be supporting Morpeth in this important exercise.”

The flood action group will also take part and two of its members have signed up to become lead CRVs.

Chairman Alan Bell said: “This exercise will be valuable for seeing how the Community Agreement will work, what will be required and what can be done.

“We would like more resilience volunteers to come forward. We are not asking too much from people, it is up to them how far they want to participate. It could just be looking out of their window and reporting what they are seeing. It is a communication system to get information out and information in.”

MFAG will hold a coffee morning at Morpeth Town Hall on Saturday to mark the sixth anniversary of the 2008 flood.

There will be displays of the flood alleviation works, information on insurance, a bric-a-brac stall and a raffle. It runs from 10am to noon.