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April 3 2016Brockham Emergency Response Team and Brockham Emergency VolunteersA Significant and Successful Community Initiative Part One Robert Bartlett MA (Cantab)…
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April 3 2016Brockham Emergency Response Team and Brockham Emergency VolunteersA Significant and Successful Community Initiative Part One Robert Bartlett MA (Cantab) Brockham March 201612 Robert BartlettIntroductionBrockham is situated in the heart of Surrey two miles to the east of Dorking and surrounded by open farmland with views of Box Hill to the north. The village has two distinct but not separate communities, Strood Green and Brockham Green. The lane off the A25 through the village to the south is well used by through traffic to Gatwick airport and the Crawley/Horsham area. This road crosses Brockham Bridge over the River Mole, which has a tendency to flood. This flood is normally predictable as Betchworth bridge floods first. When both bridges are flooded traffic from the south has to head to the A24 to get around Brockham. There is a further bridge in Old School Lane that crosses Tanners Brook, normally a benign stream through which flows the water from a range of drainage ditches from the south of the village. Following significant rainfall the brook becomes a torrent and the road is often covered in water and closed. This brook led to the flooding of a number of houses in December 2013. Brockham has a robust community fostered over many generations, made resilient because people from all walks of life live within the parish who are able to manage and deliver a wide range of activities. This is very evident with the annual Bonfire, which 20-25,000 people attend. There is a strong “can do” and “will do” attitude that drives projects and delivers results. The 2011 census for Brockham lists 1077 houses with an additional 104 1 flats and apartments many of which will be within sheltered accommodation some 26% of the whole. The population of the civil parish is 2,868 living within 690 hectares.2 These figures are of interest when considering Community Email, a system established 10/12 or so years ago as a form of electronic neighbourhood watch. There are about 350 subscribers to the scheme (Nov 2014) most but not all, resident in the village. The scheme is linked to other villages and so it is possible to communicate quickly over a wide area. This scheme is crucial to the management of information and activity during a weather event or other crisis. During the Christmas crisis of 2013 the system allowed for the immediate gathering and transfer of information. Acting as a focal point for information from local people and local authorities the scheme became a strong driver for providing information, help and assistance. For the BERT and BEV organisation to be replicated these benefits need to be in place to give a chance of success. Community email run by Robert Bartlett since its inception has been incorporated within the BERT organisation. Membership in September 2015 was about 450 households and businesses. The scheme is also linked to surrounding villages. This has assisted with fund raising, recruiting volunteers, maintaining contact with volunteers, gathering information on problems within the village and arranging working parties. The development of Bert is set out below. The role of BERT is not to be a first responder or a part of the emergency response but as soon as is practicable respond to calls for assistance within the community of Brockham mostly following or during a severe 1 2Parish council records has the total 1215 households Nov 2014 Wikipedia2April 3 2016 weather event, or protracted power outage. It is recognised that if the event is localised a great deal of help will be available from outside the village but if a regional event such as the Christmas and New Year floods it is acknowledged that Brockham may well be a low priority as there is no vital infrastructure within the area. A significant part of the adopted task for the Team is prevention and over time, the major drainage ditches have been cleared as far as possible to ensure the water escapes to the Mole as quickly as possible to be ready for the next rainfall. The work is undertaken with the agreement of the landowner or household and has been seen by the community as a major flood prevention initiative. The publicity and activity has led to farmers and householders cleaning out and maintaining their drainage ditches. The legal duty of riparian rights has been extensively broadcast within the community. The teams are established; their use hopefully, will be limited, so there is a responsibility for the leadership to ensure some team/volunteer cohesion/training and understanding to maintain enthusiasm and capability. From the start, the principle has been that anyone over the age of 13 can become involved in the teams. Maintenance deployments have seen mixed teams of men and women and lads of all ages. In November 2014 the youngest team member deployed in atrocious weather was 13 and the oldest 70. Developing the conceptFollowing the Jubilee in 2012 there was money left and the organising committee allowed Simon Budd to buy three water pumps for use should a flooding event occur and houses threatened. Three pumps and ancillary equipment were purchased in January 2013. Simon Budd established a small team of youngsters from Young Farmers and they learnt to use the pumps. Simon also attended a number of village meetings and clubs and showed the kit in operation. Consideration was given to how the team could be deployed to the benefit of the village. At the Village Weekend, 2013 Simon and Mick Bent with a number of the lads had a small stand showing the equipment that was available for deployment in the village. The group had no name but is clearly the start of the emergency response team. Robert Bartlett saw the display and recognised the potential of the concept, developing the idea of BERT, Brockham Emergency Response Team. Dated July 2013 the following shows the early concept: Simon Budd has developed BERT with the financial support of the Brockham and Strood Green Jubilee Celebrations committee. Stored on a trailer in the village are a number of water pumps, lighting, sandbags and general emergency equipment all available to respond to help residents of the parish during an emergency particularly flooding.34 Robert Bartlett After discussion with Simon Budd this was accepted. There was now a lull literally before the storm. During this period significant local publicity was given through Community Email for the need to ensure householders maintained the ditches around their property. This had an effect and many people took to clearing ditches and maintaining them. Simon Budd continued to visit local organisations to advise them on the availability and capability of the existing equipment. At this stage there was no additional funding and so the level of kit and equipment was not extensive and it was anticipated that the organisation would be based around young people.On the 24 December severe flooding struck Brockham when Tanners Brook, the River Mole and drainage ditches all overflowed causing widespread inundation of homes, gardens and roads. The main road through the village, and the secondary route Old School Lane was underwater allowing access only from the south. Much of the flooding was surface water, or from Tanners Brook. Blocked culverts and some badly maintained ditches contributed to the flood. The Christmas 2013 floods saw the deployment of the pumps on the 24 December in Strood Green and Middle Street and BERT and BEV was born under the pressure of events and over the coming days using Community Email to gather and circulate a range of information and advice. Calls for help were responded to in the early stages by Bob Thomas and Steve Thorpe, with Simon Budd giving helpful advice from behind the butcher’s counter in the village on the busiest day of their year. The young lads of the team deployed with the pumps and using their pedal go carts became a visual reminder of the response of the community. It soon became clear that a significant number of houses had been inundated in Brockham and Strood Green and gardens, outbuildings and roads were also flooded. A number of motor vehicles had also been destroyed. It was not long before The Borough Bridge was closed as the Mole burst its banks. Tanners Brook raged through a number of houses flooding and closing Old School Lane. In Strood Green blocked gulleys and ditches combined with widespread volumes of surface water flooded houses, outbuildings and gardens. The community responded and across the parish people were 4April 3 2016 seen helping their neighbours, slowing traffic, trying to get the water moving. The emergency services were deployed to the Borough Bridge where two men were sat on the roof of a van they had tried to drive through the flood. Contractors to the Surrey Fire and Rescue Service undertook a far more urgent rescue using boats after a taxi containing three people was washed away, fortunately not into the Mole but up a drive in deep floodwater. The vehicle overturned and lives were at risk. The Christmas Flood 2013The Borough alongside the River MoleThe Borough alongside the River Mole56 Robert BartlettMen were rescued from the roof of the van, which had come from the north of the village. The water to the south of the bridge is always deeper than that to the north24 December 2014 Borough Bridge from the north Surrey Fire Brigade contractors were in the village rescuing stranded motorists. Fire Brigade resources deployed to Brockham from as far as Woking and members of the team acted as guides.6April 3 2016A taxi with a driver and two passengers were washed away off Borough Bridge and were very lucky not to drown. This drive is alongside the Mole and a very dangerous place when the river is in full flood.Wheelers Lane. Most of the water is a result of a culvert suffering from tree roots not allowing the water to get away as quickly as it should. This led to the church basement flooding, parts of the school and the caretaker’s house also having a flood.78 Robert BartlettMiddle Street by the Pavilion- a number of houses flooded at this point. This is on the route of the main drainage system through to Tanners Brook from the south of the village. By this stage houses were flooded in Oakdene Road, Warrenne Road and Middle Green. The cause was not just the shear volume but the ditch mainly behind the pavilion in the recreation ground was clogged with everything from an old mower to builder’s rubble.8April 3 2016910 Robert BartlettOakdene Road one of the worst hit parts of the village. The water has to go through a gulley alongside this house before it reaches Middle Street and the pavilion.10April 3 2016Old School LaneOld School Lane1112 Robert BartlettOld School LaneOld School Lane12April 3 20161314 Robert BartlettTanners Brook Old School Lane14April 3 2016Old School Lane1516 Robert Bartlett26 December 2014, Old School Lane by Tanners Brook Bridge a four-wheel drive drove into the flood thinking he could get through. Local man Derek Minor used his dinghy to rescue the driver and a number of passengers. The drivers of large vehicles remained a nuisance throughout the event, driving, sometimes at speed, through floods setting up a wash making life more difficult for householders and pedestrians. Some drivers were very abusive when asked to slow down.A house in Tanners Meadow16April 3 2016Tanners Meadow tide mark26 December 2014 The Mole from the north. It is not unusual for the Mole to burst its banks and filling the fields either side of the bridge. However this was an extreme event with many parked cars ruined1718 Robert BartlettA house to the south of the village where BERT, Bob Thomas and Steve Thorpe attended and dug a channel across the garden taking the water direct to a drainage ditch to reduce the amount going into the house. Young BERT then delivered sandbags to build a dam to stop water getting into the kitchen. This was surface water off fields.The consequences of the flood are immediate and very damaging not just to property but also to morale. Over 90 houses were flooded and forty evacuated for significant periods. It is believed that 20-parked cars were destroyed.18April 3 2016It is difficult to know where to start but should it happen again BERT would, post event, organise teams to go to hard hit areas to help people salvage what they can and move out of the house what needs to be taken away. The local authority Mole Valley, responded by providing skips at key points in the village.29 December in Old School Lane by Brookside Cottage where a number of homes were flooded and were evacuated.1920 Robert BartlettDemand and experience during the Christmas flood showed that two levels of volunteers were required: a. Those with specialist skills and equipment able to undertake physical work for extended periods – Adult BERT. The core of Young BERT existed but the emergency brought demands for heavy work beyond the capability of some of the youngsters yet they had a very useful role to perform. From this developed the concept of Adult and Young BERT. b. People willing to help their neighbours in a range of ways from providing comfort, liaising with insurance companies, filling in forms, staffing an evacuation centre, driving. During the crisis 30 names were added to what became the BEV, Brockham Emergency Volunteers. The BERT structure soon evolved: Brockham Emergency Response Leadership Team Adult BERT 25 volunteers Male and femaleYoung BERT 10 volunteers All lads – no girls have asked to joinBEV 25 volunteers Male and femaleCommunity Email3 About 390 subscribers Includes police, other parishes and some businesses.The range of activities in the immediate aftermath of the flood of the BERT and BEV – BERT the more physical and BEV helping in anyway required 3As at 24 February 201520April 3 2016a. Pumps deployed in houses on Christmas Eve at Strood Green and Middle StreetYoung Bert with householder deploying the pumps for the first time. b. Liaised with SCC to obtain gulley-sucker to clear gulley Wheelers Lane by the church, which had led to flooding at the school and the church. c. Acquired large stock of empty sandbags, establishing public, sign-posted, sandbag collection point Young BERT undertaking delivery using their go-carts and trailers to help those unable to help themselves and placing bags at the threatened property. d. 26 December 2014 a sandbag collection point was established in Wheelers Lane. The sand bags came from Brockham Bonfire stores, and a local farmer provided the sand. (The sand was usually associated with the keeping of a dairy herd). After the event BERT funds i.e. collected from local people and organisations paid for the bags and sand.2122 Robert BartlettSandbag filling technique – cut of the point of a cone, insert the cone upside down in the bag and shovel the sand. That is why practical people are needed! Tony Hines chairman of Bonfire joined in and kindly allowed the use of their equipment.22April 3 2016Two of the Young BERT filled the bags whilst others delivered bags to those unable to come to the site. Deliveries were made after pedalling over a mile to some houses on go-carts towing a trailer. Very hard work! The lads worked for over 12 hours. They still use the go-carts but they have now been fitted with a range of lights. e. Late at night and early in the morning BERT members undertook reconnaissance of the village to identify issues and developing problems, which were then circulated on community email. f. Acting as guides to fire crews and ambulance crews from out of the area to get around flooded bridges and inaccessible route. g. There was difficulty in stopping people travelling to Brockham Bridge only to discover that the road was closed. The delivery of signs by the highway authority was slow and damage was done to tempers and verges as heavy vehicle tried to turn. Some drivers even when told they could not get through continued to the blocked bridge. Some tried to get through and were towed out. BERT deployed road closed signs from Brockham Bonfire stores and established a reserve of signs on The Green for some weeks to allow people to deploy the signs as and when needed to avoid danger. Some of the signs were damaged and replaced at regular intervals.2324 Robert BartlettFebruary 16 2014 sign bins were out for a few weeks h. Part of the learning was the need to have signs located at key points on both sides of the two bridges Old School Lane and The Borough. BERT has bought signs and will leave them with villagers to put out when the threat is high. This will allow motorists to be warned. The signs display a warning, as BERT has no authority to shut roads. i. Clear a blockage in Tanners Brook, which was threatening a second flood of houses. j. Chain saw a large tree which was down in Tanners Brook causing backlog of debris, all cleared out. k. Removed tree debris from a small garden, which was impeding access for the family with three small children. l. Cleared the Gad Brook of debris, which was impeding flow and threatening properties. m. Cleared pipe under road - Oakdene Road /Wheelers Lane to prevent flooding into Spring Cottage. This included clearing the ditch by Horton’s yard. This helped and twelve months on a number of attempts to keep the ditch open have been made, including on the 23 November. This is outside Spring Cottage, which may be a clue!24April 3 2016Steve Thorpe Wheelers Lane Spring Cottage 8 February n. A long section of underground pipes were rodded from Dodds Park to Wheelers Lane allotments. This was repeated in November 2014.o. 23 February 2014 Volunteers clear a drainage ditch from off a hill known as Chimney Pots that was threatening to flood houses in Oakdene Close. This was a significant task as there had been no maintenance of the ditch for some time. p. BERT cleared the ditch from Middle Street alongside the cricket pavilion across fields to Old School Lane removing significant rubbish and debris. Most of the bags of litter removed came from dustbins washed away during flood 24 December.2526 Robert BartlettThis is an example of the debris found in the watercourses after a flood. This is from household bins where gardens were flooded. It had to be cleared quickly and BERT undertook this.This bin was washed from someone’s garden into the main drainage ditch reducing flow significantly. It was jammed in and removed with some difficulty.26April 3 201622 February 2014 clearing main ditch through the village. Most of this material was found in the watercourse, one of the main drainage ditches, to the rear of the cricket pavilion in the recreation ground. Out of site dump it there! This debris caused the water to slow and build up causing some of the flooding in Middle Street. q. Bob Thomas and Steve Thorpe dug channels at Noyes End in Wheelers Lane where water was running off the hill, diverting water from the house, pumping out the drainage ditch and clearing it to enhance the flow of water from the site. The house had water into part of the kitchen but the prompt action by members of the team stopped further or significant damage. r. Deployed two 3" pumps and 60m of hose at Hillside Gardens to remove vast amount of rainwater (estimated over 6' deep) run off collected in back gardens that was an old sand quarry. This took a number of days. s. Arranged BEV to assist householders with insurance claim forms and to negotiate with the insurance companies. This was very successful. One particular case where the company was being very unhelpful to an elderly couple was suddenly faced with the managing director of a significant company. He was able to secure agreement almost immediately! t. Linked to local estate agent Michael Bray who coordinated the search for rental properties for those having to leave their homes. This was to allow peopl
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