East Riding of Yorkshire Council, as the Lead Local Flood Authority (LLFA), has a responsibility under Section 19 of the Flood and Water Management Act 2010 to investigate significant flood incidents in its area.
This interim report investigates the flooding which occurred at Snaith and East Cowick when the wettest February on record gave rise to very high flows in the River Aire. This, combined with the high tides, led to even higher levels in the Aire, which in turn overtopped the banks and filled the Ings along the lower reaches of the river to capacity.
In all, some 27 properties in Snaith and 60 properties in East Cowick were flooded internally. Many local businesses were also affected by flooding or the road closures caused by the event.
Councillor Chris Matthews, the council’s portfolio holder for strategic property and infrastructure, said: “This flooding in early 2020 was devastating for residents and businesses and I welcome this important report.
“I am pleased to note that, subject to its approval by Cabinet on Tuesday, 2 February, the report states that the council is confident that the high level of collaboration between the relevant flood authorities will continue to achieve an effective level of flooding resilience in the Snaith and Cowick community.
“I would also like to take this opportunity to pay tribute to all those council staff, and staff from other agencies and our partners including the local community, who worked tirelessly during the flooding event – and since – to initiate the response at the time, and to carry out the investigation over recent months.”
The report says that, whilst a future flooding event cannot be ruled out in the area, or anywhere else, the nine interim recommendations outlined should help reduce the impact from any future flooding due to an extreme weather event.
The report makes clear that it is very difficult to determine the chances of a repeat of an event of this nature, because of the combined effects on river levels of tidal influence and prolonged rainfall. It says the best estimate is that it would appear to have been between a 1-in-100 and 1-in-200 year event. The current level of protection for communities is therefore good compared to other areas in the locality.
Kimberley MacPherson, flood risk manager at the Environment Agency, said: “The February floods had a huge impact on communities across the East Riding of Yorkshire and our thoughts remain with them, especially those families who still cannot return to their homes.
“We are doing all we can to work with those affected to keep them updated with our work to repair flood defences and ensure they are ready for winter. As well as our repair programme, we are doing further assessments of the flows and flood mechanisms from the River Aire and washlands that can help inform future plans for the area so that we can better protect and prepare homes and businesses from flooding and create climate resilient places.
“Since the February flood, we have been working closely with East Riding of Yorkshire Council, North Yorkshire County Council and the Internal Drainage Boards to learn from the floods and plan for the future, with the impacts of climate change at the front of our minds. We’re also working with communities to help them become better prepared for any risk of flooding, improving our warning and informing, and recruiting community flood wardens.
“The high river and washland levels we’ve experienced in the last week are a timely reminder for everyone to check their flood risk at our Flood Warning Service website and find out what they can do to be prepared in the event of a flood.”
The interim S19 report can be found at: https://www.eastriding.gov.uk/council/committees/the-cabinet/