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Building flooding resilience

Melanie Dinnis, Emergency Planning Officer, blogs about flood risk management and the National Flood Forums’ annual conference.

I attended the National Flood Forums’ (NFF) annual conference on 26 February which was themed ‘Building Resilience through Partnership’.  The audience was made up of predominantly residents who had been affected by flooding, but also representatives from the Environment Agency, local authority, insurance industry, utility companies, research bodies’, and flood product companies.  We were fortunate that the event was held in Birmingham at the Lakeside Centre at Aston University.  This provided an opportunity for our local flood action group’s to attend and meet other residents from across the country facing similar experiences to theirs. 

Birmingham Residents alongside other agencies at the National Flood Forum annual conference

Birmingham Residents alongside other agencies at the National Flood Forum annual conference

What is unique to the flood forum conferences is that they are focussed on those that have been affected by flooding, their experiences, achievements and concerns.  As an agency representative, this gives me an opportunity to find out how the decisions and services of responding agencies are received by those they are meant to help.  Delegates observed a simulated workshop listening to the perspectives of the flood ‘survivors’ from Hull as well as other residents from Uckinghall, Kempsey and Keswick who had a range of often surprising stories and issues to relate. 

The publication of the NFF Manifesto for Flood Victims was completed only days prior to the conference.  As all of those involved in flooding know, this is a critical time in flood risk management.  The Floods and Water Management Bill has been out for consultation and the government is considering its final inclusions.  It therefore seemed a fitting time for the leading political parties to outline their flood risk management policy preferences prior to the forthcoming election and for delegates to question their intent further.  The Chairman of the Environment Agency provided the audience with an update on some of the progress and forthcoming projects for the Agency.  This was followed by informative talks on the role and experiences from a local authority and then Insurance Industry perspective.

The NFF honoured those individuals from the Environment Agency and local council who have provided them with great support and those residents who have been an inspiration to others through their Golden Brolly Awards. 

During this time of economic uncertainty and much publicised funding concerns for the NFF, it is reassuring to hear the positive moves the NFF are taking to become more business orientated to ensure their long-term existence whilst maintaining their key focus on supporting the victims of flooding.

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