Wisbech: Calls For Better Flood Information

10 December 2013, 06:00 | Updated: 10 December 2013, 15:00

There are calls for more information from authorities, when Wisbech faces potential flooding.

Hundreds of people gathered around the town's river last week, when flood defences were almost overcome.

The Environment Agency closed the town's floodgates in the middle of last Thursday afternoon as the tidal surge began to rise.

Fenland Councillor Virginia Bucknor told Heart people needed more live information: "If they'd been a sudden surge and the water had come over those few inches, there would be hundreds of people trying to run away for sightseeing but also to get information themselves.

Wisbech was saved out of sheer luck. It was extremely close to being in the absolute emergency stage - and we didn't have anything in place."

But with a lack of information from the district council and from the Environment Agency - Mrs Bucknor wants a locally focused information source to be set up. There's no warning siren or klaxon in the town and there are now electronic traffic information boards - so locally based social media sites could be the way forward. Mrs Bucknor added: "Set up a twitter, set up a Facebook page but also have other communication methods where people can get updates - but as it was at the time, that just did not exist."

District Council To Review Procedures

A spokesman from Fenland District Council said: "As we would always do after an event of the kind we experienced last Thursday, we will be reviewing all our procedures together with other organisations, including the Environment Agency, the police and the county council.

In cases where we know there is a risk of flooding, we take our lead from the advice provided by the Environment Agency. What we do as a council depends on the level of warning they issue and we allocate our resources accordingly.

We recognise there may be scope for improving the methods of communication across all the relevant partner agencies and we will be examining the best ways of doing that in future."

Environment Agency Aware Of On-Line Problems

A spokesman for the Environment Agency said: "We are aware that some people had problems getting onto the website on Thursday. 

That was because of the sheer number of people who were accessing the site.

Thankfully, there are numerous alternative ways of getting the latest flood alerts and codes that were active throughout the tidal surge.

Alternative online options include our:

Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/#!/environmentagency)

Flood widget (http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/137543.aspx)

Our regional Twitter account (www.twitter.com/EnvAgencyAnglia)

All of these were updated every 15 minutes throughout the entirety of the floods. 

Our Twitter page was also constantly monitored throughout the night to respond to concerned people.

There are also numerous ways of keeping up-to-date away from your computer, including our;

Smartphone app (http://www.halcrow.com/floodalert)phone, email or text alerts through Floodline Direct service (https://fwd.environment-agency.gov.uk/app/olr/home)

All of our information is put together through scientific data and we would urge people to continue to use our accurate and up-to-date warnings."