Had a meeting last night with my fellow flood warden co-ordinator and two very helpful Flood Resilience Officers from the Environment Agency. This is a Feniton Parish Council initiative to help the village cope in times of heavy rain. We showed them this excellent video made by one of the villagers (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WyMFwbOx6HQ) to illustrate the situation we face here.
We have managed to produce a database of 15 volunteer flood wardens, many of whom have experience of their homes being flooded. Another database lists those who are willing to open up their homes to people who have been flooded out. We get a warning via text message from the Met Office of bad weather approaching which is likely to cause damage to properties. We then have to assess whether it’s appropriate to forward the message to the flood wardens, depending on the level of alert issued.
But we are optimistic that things will improve.
South West Water has adopted the drains which run through the village and are currently assessing them to see where repairs are needed. Some of the newer homes in the village currently have their surface water drains linked into the foul water system, adding to an already overloaded system … so in periods of extreme rainfall manhole covers blow and raw sewage discharges on to the road. Not pleasant. This is apparently going to be altered (why was it ever allowed in the first place?)
We are in an interesting position in Feniton in that all the flooding is caused by a combination of a poor foul water system and field run off. We are not on a coastal or fluvial flood plain. This means that despite calls by our MP, Neil Parish, in a House of Commons debate this week (http://www.neilparish.co.uk/content/neil-parish-calls-government-ensure-people-high-risk-areas-get-access-affordable-flood-insur) where he specifically mentioned Feniton, developers are targeting Feniton looking for rich pickings and, because of the more relaxed planning rules, can feel confident that their planning applications will be approved. We are expected to be seduced by developer inducements of cash to plough into flood alleviation (while at the same time East Devon, Devon County and DEFRA have already pledged sums to make a start on the much-needed flood scheme).
Each time more houses are built, the flooding gets worse and I fear our volunteer flood wardens will be called upon more and more frequently.
But we shall be resilient.