How to respond if there is a flood in your ward.
In the last few years, many local areas have been hit hard by flooding and it looks possible that these problems could be repeated. If the worst happens in your area, it’s important that as a councillor you react quickly.
Before a flood occurs
You should always be in contact with your council’s civil emergency team. Act as a conduit of information between officers and the public on social media. Make sure the emergency contact number is in your phone. Do you know how your council will respond? Have they got a plan for involving members in emergency response and recovery? If not, do so.
Ensure that there is a flood warden scheme in place, managed by the council, before any flooding. Raise flooding on scrutiny and make sure plans are in place. Contact local authorities that have lots of floods, such as Cumbria and York, to get best practice and ensure your local authority follows it.
If the council issues weather advice or warnings to councillors, share it so that people are aware. Ask the council what they are doing to alleviate the issue and ask them how they would respond if your area were to flood.
Prepare a flood bag that is easy to access, with wellies, overalls, clean water, gloves, disinfectant and any other potentially useful supplies.
During a flood
Go to the location of the flood and get a Facebook live video of it. Warn people of the floods and direct them to the flood information service. Approach any news crew and introduce yourself as a local councillor. Take pictures of the flood and you helping people – these can be used in the future. Keep a record of people you help and any queries made. Make sure that you respond to these later.
Get in touch with local schools, care homes etc, and get information to and from them. Offer your support.
Contact other Lib Dems and offer support to people affected. In the Hebden Bridge floods, Lib Dems came over from Lancashire to help, clearing flooded houses, etc. Use your networks to help people.
Ensure that vulnerable people are getting the help they need from the council. If they are not there to help, try and help them yourself. Do not put yourself in direct danger.
Try to set up a community hub where volunteers can be coordinated. Have a board with all the supplies you want people to bring. Don’t rely on the council or the emergency services to help straight away, you need to be prepared to be on your own for a while.
After a flood
Talk to local businesses affected and try and get them help from the council, such as rate relief and business support. Check on your constituents by going door knocking.
Continue to share weather information and updates on social media, to keep people updated.
Process any flood-related casework quickly and thoroughly and press release any actions taken by you to make people aware of what you have done.
Find out the cause of the flooding. Was it simply rain, or was there a fault at a pumping station or flood gate? Make sure to raise the issue during council meetings.
Petition residents for action to prevent future flooding and a better response. Highlight issues that became obvious during these events and ask for improvements. Be careful not to be unfairly critical – some residents will appreciate what the council has done and may not react well to overly harsh criticism.