A major incident has been declared in Somerset this morning with residents told to “plan for the worst” as flood risks increase across the UK.
The Environment Agency took the move after enhanced pumping began at Northmoor on Tuesday night (January 17) in an attempt to help reduce potential flooding.
Following heavy rainfall in the county, major flood warnings remain in place at Saltmoor and Northmoor, reports Somerset Live, as well as Currymoor. The flood storage basin at Currymoor remains full, with river levels meaning the basin cannot be emptied.
Pumps are working at Saltmoor and Northmoor currently to help reduce levels as much as possible when there is sufficient capacity to pump more water into the River Parrett. Extra pumps are also ready to use at Currymoor once conditions allow, but the basin remains full.
he has increased the risks of flooding on the Somerset Levels to the extent that a major incident has now been declared. The declaration is a precaution and allows agencies to be “more coordinated and ready to support and take action should the situation worsen”, according to a joint statement from the agencies involved.
The statement was issued collectively by the Environment Agency, Somerset County Council, Sedgemoor District Council, Somerset West and Taunton Council, Mendip District Council and South Somerset District Council. A spokesman for the Environment Agency further stated that the declaration allowed them to “plan for the worst”.
Ian Withers of the Environment Agency said: “The sight of water on the Somerset Levels and Moors is obviously a concern to those who have suffered from flooding before. Our staff continues to work to the best of their abilities to protect people and properties, install pumps and engage with communities.
“The situation is expected to improve when enhanced pumping begins and we continue to run the Sowy flood relief channel, it is prudent to plan for the worst and going into major incident mode is appropriate, so we coordinate with partners and everyone is ready to respond if needed.”
Cllr Bill Revans, Leader of Somerset County Council, said: “The decision to declare a major incident at this stage means we are well placed to respond. We will be supporting Environment Agency colleagues on the ground and taking every step to ensure our communities receive the help they need.”
This is the second major incident that has been declared in Somerset in two days, after a bus carrying 70 people to Hinkley Point C power station overturned on Tuesday. 53 people were taken to hospital after the crash, with several needing surgery.
It is reported that 27 patients were treated for minor injuries while a further 26 suffered injuries “consistent with a serious traffic collision”.
The emergency services were called to reports of a collision between a double-decker bus and a motorbike near Sandford Hill, Bridgwater, at around 6am. The bus was carrying 70 Hinkley point C workers and a major incident was declared.