MVS supports national preparedness for flooding

From 4 to 11 March 2011, Exercise Watermark tested national emergency flood plans as one of the key recommendations that followed the Pitt Review (Learning lessons from the 2007 floods).   

Planned and delivered by the Environment Agency, the exercise was one of the largest so far to use scenarios based on severe weather conditions including flooding from the sea, rivers, surface water and reservoirs. 

As shown in the examples below, MVS was able to demonstrate its roles in providing practical response on the water and in raising public awareness of flooding issues.

MVS Merseyside Unit at Flood Awareness Day, Williamson Square, Liverpool– 10 March 2011

Wirral has around 7500 properties that fall within a flood risk areas from river or sea flooding. There are another 8000+ properties that fall within ‘areas of susceptible flooding’ during times of extreme rainfall.  So it’s vital that local residents and businesses remain fully aware of the risks of flooding and how to prepare for it.

At the Community Awareness Event organised by the Merseyside Local Resilience Forum,MVS joined a strong voluntary sector presence that included St John Ambulance, British Red Cross and Raynet.

One of the MVS RIBs (“The Tom Hale”) was on display and the MVS Merseyside team, (including Chief Volunteer Ralph Topping, Leading Volunteer Dan James, National Training Officer Terry Broadfoot and Regional Volunteer Officer Chris Todd) talked to members of the public about the work of the MVS in responding to flooding events. As a result, eight expressions of interest were received from potential MVS volunteers.

Dan James said "I felt it certainly worthwhile the unit having a presence there. A great opportunity to network and recruit."  Whilst Chris Todd agreed saying "While we have a regular presence down at Albert Dock, this is the first time we have had the MVS on show in the centre of the City itself." Chris Todd was also able to make a visit to the nearby Liverpool Volunteer Centre to promote the work of the MVS.

For the record and to emphasise the theme of the event, it rained for most of the day!

MVS Portsmouth Unit volunteers ‘flooded out’ at local Rest Centre – 8 March 2011

As a low lying island, areas of Portsmouth are susceptible to tidal flooding when wind and weather produce high water levels. During these events, temporary rest accommodation is vital to the City and the setting up of rest centres outside the main flood risk areas, is practised on a regular basis.

Forced to leave their homes by tidal flooding, about 30 ‘members of the public’ arrived at the rest centre in Hilsea, Portsmouth. Among them were six members of the MVS Portsmouth Unit playing the roles of distressed local residents.

Those organising and staffing the centre had to cope with a variety of concerns including lost relatives, missing pets, overdue medication, life threatening medical conditions and pushy journalists determined to get a story.

Head of MVS Unit Portsmouth Chris Davenport said “For the rest centre staff to get the most out of this training, we thought we’d better get stuck into our roles, so we did !”.  Jim Chidwick, Civil Contingencies Officer with Portsmouth City Council was grateful to the MVS for its contribution “ We couldn't do the exercises without the help of volunteers to play the evacuees, so thank you”