Flood News

Issue 11 — October 2013

Welcome to Responder News, the joint Met Office, Environment Agency and Flood Forecasting Centre newsletter for emergency responders.

It aims to be an essential briefing for you and your colleagues. If you have any comments or suggestions, please contact us at ffcenquiries@environment-agency.gov.uk or through the links on the stories.

This newsletter is also available in Welsh.


Floods Destroy. Be prepared

Large wave next to a lighthouse

Flood action month begins this November. Following on from the success of the last year’s flood action push, the Environment Agency is planning another four-week campaign throughout England.

This year, we’ll be targeting different audiences during our four themed campaign weeks, starting on 4 November 2013. Each week we’ll be using specific messages and materials to target:

We will be working with local Environment teams and external organisations to deliver a range of activities during November, including linking in with the ‘Get ready for Winter’ campaign. If anyone wants to get involved in the flood action campaign then we are happy to hear from them.

The campaign will also coincide with the launch of our new stand-alone flood identity. The identity follows the example of other successful multi-organisation campaigns such as ‘Fire Kills’ , ‘Think!’ and ‘Change4Life’ . The identity will create a consistent look and feel to flood communications and will help us jointly reach people with messages about flooding.

We are developing logos, guidelines and templates that individuals and organisations can use alongside their own branded materials or flood action initiatives. These will be available in November for people to use when they communicate with people about flooding. If you want to use the identity from November, please email to indicate your interest.

For more information contact Katie Slater, senior flood communications adviser, Environment Agency.

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Getting Ready for Winter

Get ready for winter logo

Last winter, the Met Office hosted a Get Ready for Winter campaign on its website in partnership with the Cabinet Office, other government departments and agencies and the voluntary sector. Preparations are now under way to repeat the campaign over the coming winter.

Many of the hazards communities face over the winter are weather related. Few winters pass without some form of severe weather be that heavy rain and floods, cold spells with snow and ice or high winds. In most winters somewhere, sometime we will get them all.

Last winter the Met Office and Cabinet Office worked together to develop a web-based campaign providing advice and information about all aspects of winter weather. A number of other government departments and agencies, as well as voluntary organizations, provide content for the web pages, including links to their own campaigns.

The web-pages received nearly half a million hits over what was a lengthy winter and the Met Office followed this up with a shorter Get Ready for Summer campaign. With more focus on enjoying summer safely, a magazine format was chosen which received more than 100,000 hits and a potential social media reach of around two million people.

Building on these two campaigns, the partners have agreed to run Get Ready for Winter again, this year launching at the end of October. There will be two themes running through the web pages; advice about preparing for winter weather and its impacts; and advice about what to do during actual spells of bad weather.

This year’s winter campaign will use some of the navigation developed for the recent Get Ready for Summer pages. Different sections will include:

There will also be a front page ‘blog’ allowing regular updates from partners which will relate to actual weather conditions and the impacts they are having.

For more information contact enquiries@metoffice.gov.uk.

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Online flood plan

Online flood plan

Completing a flood plan is one of the key steps people can take to prepare for flooding. The Environment Agency has developed a new online flood plan to help make it quicker and easy for people to complete and share their own flood plan.

The new interactive flood plan is designed to improve the customer experience and to increase the number of people completing a flood plan.

Users can fill in the plan online and download, print or email a copy once finished. Users can also share on Facebook and Twitter that they have completed their flood plan and encourage others to do the same. The new plan won’t record or store any personal information but it will help us understand much more about how the how and where people are using it. We can track how many times the plan is downloaded or emailed, how many people complete the plan, which questions (if any) aren’t being completed, which council area the customer is in and how many people are coming to the plan from Facebook and Twitter.

The new flood plan can currently be accessed and used on the Environment Agency‘s website. A plain version (without Environment Agency branding or colours) has also been developed for other organisations and groups to use. We are currently working with two local authorities (Shropshire and Calderdale) to add the plan on their websites. We will review how this test performs and if successful, we will make the plan available to other organisations.

Get in touch if you are interested in testing or adding the flood plan to your website.

For more information contact Heather Taylor, FCRM Project Manager, Environment Agency.

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Warnings widget

Met Office weather warning widget

The Met Office has recently released a new Warnings widget that you can add to your website. This will give visitors to your website an overview of the National Severe Weather Warnings in place for your selected area over the next five days.

As the UK's national meteorological service, the Met Office provides accurate and reliable weather forecasts on TV, radio and online. Now webmasters are able to include Met Office weather forecasts and warnings on their web site for their visitors.

We provide 3 different widgets:

Adding one of our Widgets to your website is a quick and simple process. Follow our step by step set up guide to select the content you want to display and the options you want to allow your users. Then simply add the script to your HTML page.

To ensure we can keep you informed about all the latest developments on the Widgets, you will be asked to register your details before downloading one of the widgets. We will only use your details to contact you in order to notify you of any changes or updates to the Widgets.

For more information contact enquiries@metoffice.gov.uk.

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Location based SMS and Cell broadcasting trials

Mobile phone

The Environment Agency is working with the Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS) on mass alerting trials in autumn this year. The first trial in Easingwold on 18 September was a success with two further tests planned in October and November to evaluate this technology and inform any future national public alerting service for the UK.

The Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2010 set out the Government’s commitment to “evaluate options for an improved public alert system”. The Civil Contingencies Secretariat (CCS) has been assessing the current gaps in the UK’s alerting capability to get effective messages out to those impacted within the first 15 minutes of an emergency.

Location based SMS and Cell broadcasting are two different alerting technologies that allow alert messages to be sent direct to a customer’s mobile phone. Both have the benefit of reaching customers in a geographic area without them having to register in advance and provide an opportunity to reach people on the move within the affected area.

The Environment Agency worked with the CCS and the Local Resilience Forum last year to test using our Floodline Warnings Direct (FWD) system in Ellesmere Port to send messages for risks other than flooding. Although the trial was successful, FWD relies on the prior registration of customers (mobile telephone numbers). It cannot currently send messages to un-registered recipients passing through an area.

The CCS is working with three mobile network operators (EE, Vodafone and O2) and local responders to conduct the trials to test and evaluate cell broadcasting and location based SMS. The trials will help the Environment Agency consider how location based SMS and cell broadcasting could be used to increase the reach of flood warnings and can be used to support our replacement for the FWD system.

The first trial was in North Yorkshire (18 September 2013) with further tests planned in Glasgow (3 October 2013) and Suffolk (20 November 2013).

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The science behind the hazard

Natural Hazards Partnership

Over the summer some of the organisations that form the Natural Hazard Partnership have been busy preparing a series of hazard-specific Science Notes. These will provide a quick introduction to natural hazards for non-experts. Also, later this month the NHP Daily Hazard Assessment will be made available to all registered Hazard Manager users.

The Natural Hazard Partnership (NHP) was established two years ago and now comprises twelve full technical members and five Government partners. The aim of the NHP is to provide information, research and analysis on natural hazards for UK civil contingency planning and response, for governments and the responder community.

The NHP is looking to broaden the focus of natural hazards risk management from what has been predominately an early warning system towards a more holistic and integrated approach, with more emphasis on risk reduction and prevention. This will help the development of more effective policies, communications and services

Responders often ask for information to be presented in a consistent, easily accessible format, preferably from one place and that’s particularly true during an emergency. Many of the emerging ideas from the NHP are addressing this and one example of such coordinated information is a new series of natural hazard Science Notes.

These Science Notes are short guides covering a range of natural hazards, such as drought, wildfires and wind. The notes aim to provide non-experts with a brief introduction to each hazard, highlighting key aspects that may need to be taken into account in decision-making during an emergency. They are not intended to be fully comprehensive, detailed analyses or to indicate what will happen on any particular occasion. Instead they will signpost issues that are likely to be important and provide links to sources of more detailed information. Each note will be updated on an annual basis, in line with the NHP’s review of the National Risk Assessment.

The Science Notes will be available on the NHP general information micro-site which will be available through the Met Office website from late October.

At the end of October the NHP will also be making its Daily Hazard Assessment (DHA) product available to all Civil Contingency Category 1 and 2 Responder through the Met Office’s Hazard Manager web-service. The DHA provides an ‘at a glance’ overview of natural hazards that could affect or are affecting the UK over the next one to five days based on an assessment of the top level NHP hazard impact matrix. Links within the product then direct users to the relevant partner organisations to obtain further and more detailed information as required.

For more information contact servicedesk@metoffice.gov.uk.

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