Lessons to be learned from June floods

It is vital we learn lessons about managing and responding to disasters such as the recent June floods in the UK, says Environment Secretary Hilary Benn.

The inquiry called the Lessons Learned review is to be carried out by the Cabinet Office along with Defra, and government at local, regional and national levels.

Four people died in the floods, and three other reported deaths are still being investigated. Over 37,000 properties including an estimated 7,000 businesses are reported to have been affected, with nearly 18,000 properties affected in the Hull area alone.

“As the affected communities, businesses and individuals move to the long and difficult task of recovery, they are understandably asking questions about the flooding – its causes and subsequent management,”

Hilary Benn said in a written statement to the House of Commons.

The month of June was the wettest June on record; in excess of 150mm of rain fell over most of the Midlands and northern England with between 200 and 300mm in parts of the North East. These extreme conditions led to large scale urban flooding a lot of which was from surface water run-off rather than from rivers.

The new review will look at flood risk management, the emergency response and the transfer to recovery. A further separate review will be carried out at a later stage to consider lessons learned from the recovery phase.

Despite launching this inquiry, in his statement, Benn called the response to the floods from emergency services and local authorities in the affected communities “very impressive.”

The inquiry will take a look at why the flooding – labeled as a ‘once in a 400-year event’ by the Environment Agency – was so extensive and will consider establishing factors including guidelines for immediate response.

It will also consider if the public was provided with enough information into dealing with the disaster.

It is estimated that thousands of people are still out of their homes as a result of the flooding, which affected places across the Midlands and Yorkshire and Humberside last month.

Dana Gornitzki

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