Thunder Thursday - the impact on Newcastle

24 July 2013

One in five homes in Newcastle damaged by floods last summer was not insured.

PR 4030

For further information please contact:
Andrew McKegney - Phone: 0191 211 5099 - Emerg only: 07766 442 597
Email: andrew.mckegney@newcastle.gov.uk

That’s one of the findings of a new report by Newcastle City Council into the devastating impact of Thunder Thursday (June 28) and further downpours on August 5 and 6.

The report, described as giving the most complete picture of flooding in the city, was compiled from a survey of almost 3,000 residents and 72 non-residential properties such as schools.

Among other things, the survey showed:

• 500 homes suffered internal flooding
• In the vast majority of cases flooding took place within one hour
• Two thirds of residents were flooded for the first time
• One in five residents had to move out of their homes for flood repairs
• 54 non-residential properties were flooded forcing 40 per cent to close temporarily

The purpose of the survey, carried out from last July to August, was to gauge the geographical spread of flooding across the city and its impact.

On Thunder Thursday, 50mm of rain fell in around two hours - the equivalent for Newcastle of the whole month of June. Pictures of streets under water, homes, schools and shops flooded were seen all over the world.

A Scrutiny Review of flooding across the city and how the council and its partners responded is currently underway and due to report to the Cabinet in October. A separate review is looking into the collapse of a culvert at Newburn.

The findings of the most recent report will be taken into account as part of both reviews.

Deputy Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods, Cllr Nigel Todd, said: “Flooding is a natural occurrence. We cannot prevent it entirely, but a lot can be done to minimise the risk of flooding and reduce its devastating impact.

“More than 500 homes were flooded, many within an hour, and the vast majority for the first time. Public buildings like schools were flooded and had to close while repairs were carried out. This all demonstrates just how exceptional the weather in June was.

“I think the council and the emergency services did a good job in very difficult circumstances - but there is always room for improvement which is what our Scrutiny Review is looking into. The council can’t do everything so it’s very important that people realise they must take responsibility for protecting their homes.

“They should seek advice and take action so they are prepared the next time this kind of extreme weather event happens. There is advice and links on the council’s website to help them.”

The floods caused massive damage to roads and footpaths across the city worth up to £8 million.

Works to make the city more resilient to flooding are currently underway. Three million pound is being spent to reduce the risk of flooding in the city and the council is applying to the Environment Agency for funds which would enable further improvements.

To access the full report and receive advice on how to protect your property from flooding and what to do during flooding go to: http://www.newcastle.gov.uk/environment/environment/june-28-recent-flooding 

The National Flood Forum advises and supports communities who have been affected by flooding, or are at risk of flooding, and can be contacted on 01299 403 055.

The city council works very closely with Northumbrian Water and the Environment Agency on managing flood risk in the city.

It’s findings will be used to inform the Scrutiny Review that is currently taking place in the council into how it, and its partners, responded, and what lessons can be learned so the response next time is better.

The report lists a number of recommendations including:

• Raising awareness about what to do before, during and after a flood, and where to
find information and support
• Investigate piloting a point of contact where residents can ring for advice following a
flood
• Carry out a review of the gully cleansing regime
• Investigate piloting a volunteer flood warden system

Non-residential properties include schools, shops, and leisure facilities

The Flood and Water Management Act requires the city council to produce a Local Flood Risk Management Strategy to help address the risk of flooding across the city. A draft will go out to consultation later this year.

In total 12,000 questionnaires were issued to residents and 350 to non-residential properties.

Summer 2012 flooding report

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