The storms that battered the north of England and parts of Scotland at the end of 2015 and early 2016 caused significant damage and disruption to families and businesses across tight knit rural communities and larger towns and cities. This came just two years after Storm Xaver inflicted significant damage to the east coast of England. Flooding is not a new threat to the residents of the Lake District, but the severity of the events in December 2015 certainly appears to have been regarded as surprising.
While the immediate priority is always to ensure that these communities and businesses are back up on their feet as quickly and effectively as possible, it is also important that all those involved in the response take the opportunity to review their own procedures and actions. It is often the case that when our response is put to the test in a ‘real world’ scenario that we discover things that could have been done better, or differently, and can make changes to ensure continuous improvement. This is true of insurers as much as it is of central and local government and the emergency services, because events like these demand a truly integrated response.
In this report, we set out to review the complete risk management cycle surrounding Storm Desmond, which caused severe flooding across Cumbria and the north of England, in December 2015. We offer some of our key findings from the review, an understanding of the severity of what turned out to be another exceptional flood event, the varying levels of flood risk awareness, preparedness and response amongst homeowners and businesses in the affected area, the variable levels of community awareness of residual flood risk and the effectiveness of emergency plans for when flood defence measures are overwhelmed. We have also looked at the role of community flood action groups in the response and recovery from severe flooding. >>