Dedicated teams from the Environment Agency, Surrey County Council, Surrey Fire and Rescue, Surrey Police, Borough Councils, South East Coast Ambulance and the wider NHS, with support from the military, are working closely to keep people safe and protect properties and the local infrastructure against the impact of rising floodwater.
The Environment Agency has advised that the continued rainfall over already saturated land, following the wettest January since 1766, has resulted in very high river flows and flooding in parts of Surrey. There is currently 410 tonnes of water passing through Staines every second.
There are currently nine severe flood warnings in place along the Thames stretches of Surrey and 15 flood warnings. A severe flood warning means there is a risk to life, and flood warning that flooding is expected. If you are unsure whether you are at risk of flooding go to the Environment Agency website www.environment-agency.gov.uk/flood
The situation is being constantly monitored however current weather forecasts suggest further rainfall this week so water levels are likely to remain very high for a number of days.
Residents and businesses in areas at risk are urged to remain vigilant, follow the environment agency website, sign up to a free flood warning service, and take action to reduce the impact to themselves and their property.
Authorities are encouraging those in affected areas to consider this longer term picture and plan for continued high levels of water over the coming days.
Partner agencies continue to respond to the situation by working together as part of a strategic group to co-ordinate activity across the county.
The operational response so far includes:
- More than 2800 homes along 470 roads in high risk areas have been visited to issue flood warnings and advice on evacuation procedures
- 150 homes have been evacuated by Surrey Fire and Rescue and this number is expected to rise over the coming days
- Surrey and Sussex Police have 74 4×4 vehicles to assist emergency services in gaining access to flooded areas
- Additional rescue craft has been provided by Sussex Police, the military and the Metropolitan Police to assist as part of the flooding response
- 100 dedicated officers and staff from Surrey and Sussex Police continue to work on flooding response at any one time as well as continuing local patrols in affected areas
- Surrey County Council Highways have provided 12,000 additional sandbags to local borough councils for distribution in affected areas
- 44 on-going road closures remain in place across the county
- Rest centres have been established at sites in Elmbridge, Spelthorne and Runnymede.
Ian Tomes, Environment Agency Flood Risk Manager said “Our Environment Agency teams are working around the clock alongside partners from the emergency services, local authorities, utility companies, the armed forces and volunteers to help communities deal with, and protect themselves against, flooding. Our role includes deploying demountable defences, monitoring the performance of permanent defences and making emergency repairs where necessary, deploying booms and sandbags along riverbanks, clearing river blockages, monitoring water levels and sending out flood warnings, producing mapping and detailed river forecasts and sharing information with key partners.”
Chief Superintendent Matt Twist, of Surrey Police, said: “Overnight we have continued to see a rise in water levels resulting in an increase in evacuations particularly around Staines and Egham. We continue to work around the clock to assist partner agencies in the response to flooding and are putting plans in place to ensure we can maintain this high level of response over the coming days.
“It is extremely distressing to have to leave your home during a flood and whilst we have not had any reports, we are putting in place anti-crime initiatives in evacuated areas, increasing our resources, to protect evacuated properties from criminal activity.
“This is a challenging situation but we are doing everything we can to help protect people, their homes and businesses using the flood plans and contingency planning we have in place.”
Borough Councils have updated that they continue to have people out visiting properties and distributing sandbags in the most vulnerable areas. Borough Emergency Control Centres have been opened in the most badly affected areas (Elmbridge, Runnymede and Spelthorne) with staff working 24 hours a day.
Safer Runnymede is also open 24 hours a day taking out of hours calls for both Runnymede and Spelthorne Councils.
Runnymede Chief Executive Paul Turrell said: “Runnymede Council has a rest centre available, staffed 24 hours a day to provide shelter to our residents.
“It has got busier today as evacuations have increased and we are looking to open another one if required.We also have mutual aid arrangements with neighbouring borough councils, providing strong support to each other during this major incident.
“The rest centres are set up to provide temporary shelter until they find more suitable short term accommodation, so we are having a steady flow of people coming and going, we are offering whatever support and assistance we can.
“We are encouraging residents who have evacuated their homes to stay with friends and families, but we will help them find temporary accommodation if required, particularly if flood water levels persist over the next week or two.”
South East Coast Ambulance Service (SECAmb) crews are working closely with their emergency service colleagues in relation to the flooding. Paramedics from SECAmb’s Hazardous Area Response Team, (HART), have been working out of the Chertsey area to support the flood response and also respond to any emergencies which might prove difficult for traditional ambulances to reach.
Updates have also been issued on health issues:
NHS England is giving the following advice to residents who may be preparing to evacuate their homes: “Be mindful of your health if you are moving furniture or other heavy items because of floodwater, and if using generators or portable stoves, be sure to keep the area well ventilated.
“If you are advised by emergency services to evacuate your property due to flooding, don’t forget to take essential medicines and personal health items (such as prescription medicines and inhalers) with you.
“NHS staff are working to identify and check on the wellbeing of vulnerable patients in flooded areas in order to make sure they are ok.
“If you need any health support or advice and it is not an emergency please contact your local GP or ring the NHS 111 service by dialling 111”