Flood emergency fears spark action

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EMERGENCY flood response teams are set to flock to Skegness today (Wednesday) - as part of a major exercise.

Specialist teams will be in the town as part of a nationwide scheme designed to push existing flood defences to the limit.

In Skegness they will be dealing with a fictional scenario in which vandals have taken the flood gates from the end of Tower Esplanade.

These are normally closed during high tides.

They must work quickly to erect temporary defences to prevent the following day’s extremely high tide causing flooding to roads and property in the town.

John Ryland, from the Environment Agency said: “Exercise Watermark is a great opportunity for the Environment Agency to test its response to a major flooding incident.

“The exercises in Skegness will complement the national exercise and test staff to ensure they can help reduce the risk of flooding to properties even when faced with a worst-case scenario.”

The exercise, which will also take place in Spalding, is expected to be carried out sometime today.

In Spalding, the Environment Agency will be working at Marsh Road Sluice, on Roman Bank, to excavate material from a pit adjacent to the river. The material will be used to repair a damaged flood bank.

The teams must work quickly to provide the material to repair the bank before the extreme tide.

In addition, the team will be reacting to an oil spill incident by erecting a pollution prevention boom across the river just upstream of the sluice.

The local drills are part of Exercise Watermark, a UK-wide week-long flooding exericise set up in response to the 2007 floods.

It is designed to test the country’s response to surface water, reservoir, river and coastal flooding.

Organisations taking part in Exercise Watermark include the Environment Agency, emergency services, utility companies and others.

Individuals and community groups can also test how prepared they are for a flood by writing a personal flood plan or testing their evacuation plans.

In total, it is expected that the exercise will bring together thousands of people in one of the biggest emergency exercises ever to take place in the UK. To find out more, visit www.exercisewatermark.co.uk.