Fairford received a wakeup call on Sunday evening as rising flood waters threatened to flood the Town still scarred from the devastating floods of 2007. Despite a subsequent and considerable flood alleviation programme, at 6:31 PM on Sunday evening the Environment Agency issues a warning that “Flooding is expected in Fairford – Immediate action required… flooding of property is expected.” There did not appear to be a concerted coordinated response from authorities.
The Town was caught “unprepared” suggests local resident and crisis response professional Dom Morris who has experience of deploying to natural disasters such as the Caribbean Hurricanes. Dom said, “We were not properly prepared and ready. Was there a plan? Where was the Incident Response Centre and who was in charge? Why didn’t we have a roster of people keeping watch overnight when the river was predicted to peak”?
Residents were left in the dark. The Town Council did not issue a single Tweet or Facebook message on Sunday 27th. Overnight the Town Council admitted it did not have enough sandbags or pumps available. Hasty arrangements to get them on Monday would have been too late if nature had taken a different course. It was clear that the Town Council’s emergency procedures were left lacking and it is hoped that the council will now reflect on its performance and decide to reactive its Emergency Action Group.
Dom was inundated by concerned residents who did not know what was going on and those who wanted to help but there was no HQ for them to report to. In the absence of anything he set up a WhatsApp group for worried residents to get in touch if they required assistance and messages flooded in.
Dom is calling for an urgent review of Fairford’s Flooding Plans at the next Town Council Meeting. Dom said, “I look forward to working with the Town Council and residents to review and test our Flood Plans, assign leadership roles, stockpile necessary equipment and develop a communication mechanism to keep our residents informed and coordinate volunteers. Perhaps we could rehearse this new plan early in 2021 to give residents confidence that we are prepared?”