The first Cornish flood group to form after the 2010 floods was Par and St Blazey and their flood plan is long established.
But all plans need to be reviewed regularly, especially as new wardens come forward. A recent invitation from the group co-ordinators to provide support to review the plan, took us to St Blazey earlier in the month. A field trip led by Amy Pearce of the Environment Agency (EA) took Kate Pearson from the EA, Ruth Rockley of Cornwall Council and Cathryn Marcus and Molly Flynn from the Cornwall Community Flood Forum around the 7 zones of this well set-out plan. This reminded us of both the complexity and vulnerability of these communities – Par, St Blazey and Tywardraeth have no less than five rivers, a canal and a coastline to contend with.
After our field trip, and a great lunch at the Yummy Scrummy Café and Bakery, we got together with the group for the review session. Amy, Kate and Ruth ran through a desktop scenario and the group co-ordinators reconsidered how they activate the plan and how it can be modified to respond to different flood scenarios. One of the challenges for the group is the fact that the two communities of Par and St Blazey are often cut off from one another when flooding occurs. This being the case, it was decided that different groups of wardens would now muster at two pubs on either side of the divide. At the end of the session we started to look at the transferable skills that enable wardens to respond to other emergencies, such as dealing with a recent herd of horses on the high street!
Understanding how to keep themselves safe through dynamic risk assessment, how to effectively assist the emergency services on request and exercising good team communication are among the many skills that trained flood wardens can call upon and we’ll be running another session with the group shortly to explore that further. In the meantime, the new volunteer wardens who came along were able to sign up for the next round of training being organised by the Cornwall Community Resilience Network which will take place later in the year. These will be held on the 24thSeptember for communities in the west of Cornwall, 25thSeptember for Mid Cornwall and 28thSeptember for communities in east Cornwall.