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Anti-flood exercise to go nationwide

[Thursday 30 September 2010]

The environment department Defra will today (September 30) announce a series of ant-flooding exercises which will go nationwide next spring involving emergency services, local councils and even school children.

The first test-case trial of our ability to tackle flooding disasters will be outlined in London today by Caroline Spelman, the Defra Secretary, as part of a rolling programme which will cover the whole of England and Wales in March.

Exercise Watermark will bring together government bodies, big business, and local communities to trial responses to a range of scenarios which could occur during a flood emergency.

Environment Secretary Caroline Spelman will use a visit to the Flood Forecasting Centre in Farringdon today to announce plans for the exercise.

Mrs. Spelman will say: “Climate change means that flooding will be unavoidable in the future so we must take steps now to analyse the risk and plan ahead. The Flood Forecasting Centre is vital in providing the evidence, but we must ensure that we act on it.

“Exercise Watermark will be a real test of our ability to deal with a range of flooding issues such as burst riverbanks, surface water flooding and reservoir failure. This is just one example of the important work that Defra and its agencies are doing to help local communities improve their resilience in a ‘big society’ approach to flooding.”

Beginning with a pilot event in November 2010, Exercise Watermark will then go live across England and Wales from 4-11 March 2011. More than 3,500 emergency responders and numerous community groups have already signed up to the country’s largest national multi-agency flooding exercise.

Organisations that will be taking part include 31 Local Resilience Forums, hospitals, the Ministry of Defence, Network Rail and the Flood Forecasting Centre. Companies including Vodafone, EDF Energy and the Bank of England have all signed up to test their business continuity arrangements as part of the exercise.

In addition to the central national exercise, local exercises and activities will take place simultaneously all over England and Wales, involving local people, schools and other community groups. For example, an area of Sutton-on-Sea will be evacuated with evacuees being transported to a processing centre for an overnight stay before returning to their homes.

For more information or to sign up visit www.exercisewatermark.co.uk

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