Flood Action Groups
A Flood Action Group (also known as a FlAG), is a voluntary group of local residents who work on behalf of the wider community alongside agencies and authorities, to try and better manage the impact of future flood events. The focus of the group can be based around emergency planning and can also tackle local issues, whilst providing a unified voice for the community to communicate ideas and queries to others. It is within the remit of each individual group to decide on how often they meet, and the groups own roles, responsibilities, aims and objectives.
What are the roles of a Flood Action Group?
A Flood Action Group can have a variety of different roles, some examples include:
Spread awareness of flood risk within the community
1 in 6 properties in England are at risk of flooding from rivers, sea and surface water, with many susceptible to multiple sources of flood risk and only a third of those living in areas at risk of flooding believe their property is at risk. This number is set to rise with climate change and by spreading awareness of flood risk in the community, it can allow residents and business owners to plan ahead and reduce the damage and impact a potential flood could cause.
Monitor local conditions e.g. community volunteers keeping an eye out for blocked drains
Many things can affect the risk of flooding, however, on a small/local scale, there are things that both community group volunteers and local residents can be aware of to reduce the risk and help to clear and/or report:
- Autumn leaves blocking drains
- Watercourse blockages
- Garden waste
- The 3 P’s
- Fats oils and grease
For more information download our “Helping to Reduce Flood Risk’ resource here.
Develop and review a community flood plan
A community-led emergency flood response plan provides a structured and coordinated response by a group of residents or volunteers who wish to better prepare and support their community before, during and after flood events. These community volunteers and responders will likely be the first people on-site when a flood event occurs or is expected to occur. They may be required to provide a first response until local authority support is available or emergency services are able to attend and take a lead on operations.
Click here to download a copy of our ‘Community Flood Plan Guidance Notes’ for lots of useful information on community flood plans, as well as a template for you to fill in.
Look out for vulnerable members of the community
Flood action groups can help identify and look out for those in the community who may need extra help or assistance before, during and after a flood. This may help reduce the impact it has on them.
Prepare for and take action during a flood event
During a flood, a group could help locate and deploy PFR measures, help relay information about the flood to members of the community and provide a handover and any further assistance to emergency services, if requested.
Identify key flooding issues within the community and who is responsible
Flood action groups can highlight key flooding issues, indicators or hotspots in the community and report these to the correct risk management authority (RMA). They can also report these on behalf of residents or advise them on who to report their issue to.
Build relationships and lines of communication with key agencies
Flood action groups can Invite RMAs to their meetings and positively engage with them. The local council, Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA) and Environment Agency resilience team can all help to develop a community resilience plan for the area. They may also be able to provide details of the wider local authority emergency response plan and any designated evacuation centres that are identified as ‘on-standby’ for a flood event.
Building relationships with authorities will help FlAGs to understand the role of different agencies and organisations in responding to emergency events, highlight key contacts and identify how your community plan can be integrated and ‘tie-in’ with the wider community emergency response plan currently in place.
While there is no statutory obligation for Local Authorities to supply sandbags to residents, they may be willing to supply your group with a stock of sandbags for use with your emergency plan.
Lobbying of decision makers and commenting on Government consultations
By raising an issues as a group, it may be easier for your voice to be heard. In addition, by inviting RMAs to flood group meetings, any concerns about future plans can be raised and discussed.
Influence the development of future flood scheme opportunities to better manage flood risk
Sometimes, members of flood groups may have lived in the area for many years and have valuable local flood knowledge which can be essential when a flood scheme is being developed.
Depending on the scope of the work carried out by a FlAG, This may be available through your local neighbourhood watch group. In addition, some of the issues raised from the flood action group meeting may require you to arrange further meetings with the risk management authorities for added help and support on more specialised subjects. An established group can also encourage and invite other members of the community to get involved, such as residents, business owners, landowners and professional partners.
It may be possible for a flood action group to access funding from local organisations to assist with community resilience. In order to access funding, the group would need to become a constituted group. A constitution is the ‘governing document’ of your group which sets out how you intend to run it and shows funders that the group is organised if you are going to apply for grant funding.
Your local Council for Voluntary Service (CVS) can assist the flood action group in becoming constituted and can provide access to resources and information around running successful community groups.
Featured image: Halifax Courier