Exercise Watermark comes to Cleveland to test emergency response to flooding

Cleveland Fire Brigade is hosting a flooding exercise developed by the Cleveland Emergency Planning Unit on Thursday 10 March where public, voluntary and private sector agencies will come together to demonstrate how flood plans will work to ensure public safety.

The exercise will take place at Fire Brigade Headquarters, Hartlepool and will run in real time from 9.30am to 3.30pm. The scenario will include the preparation and response to flooding from severe weather, rivers and the sea. Agencies will demonstrate how they would provide a co-ordinated response and test the local multi-agency flood plan and procedures.

This is being undertaken as part of a national drive named ‘Exercise Watermark’, to test emergency response and preparedness in England and Wales against surface water, river and reservoir failure right through to tidal flooding. This is due to climate change and the increasing likelihood of flooding in the future.

Agencies in Cleveland involved on the day include Cleveland Emergency Planning Unit, Cleveland Fire Brigade, Cleveland Police, Middlesbrough Council, Hartlepool Council, Stockton Council, Redcar and Cleveland Council, Cleveland Search and Rescue Team, Raynet, the Military, PD Ports and Local Industry, Health Protection Agency, North Tees Hospital, WRVS, and the Primary Care Trust.

Stuart Marshall, Principal Emergency Planning Officer at Cleveland Emergency Planning Unit said: “In Cleveland Exercise Watermark provides a great opportunity to test our existing plans with a wide range of agencies and organisations. The scenario has been developed to test how the public will be warned, what preparations will be put in place by agencies prior to flooding, how the different agencies will respond whilst ensuring actions are coordinated and recovery once the water levels drop. After the exercise we will address any identified areas of weakness to further improve our plans and procedures”

Phil Lancaster, Director of Community Protection, Cleveland Fire Brigade said: “Climate change predictions have shown us that flooding is likely to become more frequent and so it is vital that we are prepared as possible. With 23,000 homes and businesses at high risk of river and coastal flooding in the North East, it is essential for us to be part of Exercise Watermark to ensure the plans in place are robust and that all agencies work well together to help reduce the impact a major flooding incident could have on our local communities.”

Chief Inspector Mick Williams said: “Initiatives such as this help us to strengthen already positive partner agency relationships across Cleveland and help us to test arrangements in place to respond to severe, wide-spread flooding.

“We have seen in other areas of the country how flooding can devastate lives for a great length of time and by taking part in this exercise, we can ensure that we are adequately prepared to serve members of the public should anything similar happen in our area.”

It is vital we are all prepared for flooding. To find out if you are at risk and to get early warnings, visit www.environment-agency.gov.uk or call Floodline on 0845 988 1188. You can also take steps to reduce flood risk to your home, for example by installing Kitemarked flood defence products and completing a flood plan.

For more information please contact Cleveland Emergency Planning Unit 01642 232442.