Chew Magna Flood Wardens win national award

By Selina Cuff in Environment

Last night Chew Magna Community Flood Planning were named winners of the Environment Agengy Project Excellence Awards (PEA).

The local group has been named the winners of the Building Resilience category, with the team- made up Chew Magna Flood Wardens, Chew Valley Flood Forum, the parish council, local volunteers and the B&NES Council- beating their fellow nominees the University of West England, Lancaster University and Save the Children.

Four members of the Chew Magna Community Flood Planning attended the award ceremony which is part of the two day Flood And Coast Conference. Held at Telford International Centre the PEA awards recognised the country’s most innovative and successful projects into flood and coastal risk management. Other award categories included asset management, efficiency, innovation, sustainable resource management and work in partnerships.

The Chew Magna Community Flood Planning project was one of only a few shortlisted for the national award not to be affiliated to the Environment Agency. 18 of the 23 nominees were Environment Agency projects or ones partnered to the organisation.

The award recognises the efforts of the community group in response to the devastating floods of 2012 which saw properties damaged, parts of the village and access routes cut off, extensive use of the local fire brigade who had to rescue people from their homes and cars as well in help get a woman who had gone into labour to Paulton Hospital.

Since then the group have been developing a flood plan for the village, which utilises trained local volunteers as flood wardens who will be on hand to help the village in times of flooding. In 2014 the group were part of a £200,000 pilot scheme which saw the installation of pumps and barriers in 69 homes in the village. And over the past two years flood wardens have received extensive training from various agencies on what to do to mediate the effects of flooding and best practises during crisis points, with the plan being practised on to ensure it works.

Last November was the first real test for the plan, when Winford Brook and the River Chew swelled as a result of Storm Angus. Whilst the rivers rose and some roads were once again under water, the flood barriers held and the flood wardens were out in force. Their efforts unblocking drains and ensuring all homes under threat were protected ensured no property damage occurred during this flood and the water flood quickly dissipated, in fact by the end of the day some roads were already clear and the following day the majority of the water had gone.

Whilst they teams efforts have received much appreciation locally, now they have been recognised nationally.

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