Author of a Government-commissioned Independent Review on this summer's flooding, Sir Michael Pitt, has suggested that "the country was fortunate that the impact was not much more severe."
The report said that the summer floods, which wreaked the most havoc in areas of Yorkshire and Gloucestershire, were a "wake-up call" for the country and that, "despite the impressive efforts of emergency responders, much work needs to be done to avoid emergencies of the scale we witnessed this summer happening again."
Government departments and agencies, local authorities and other stakeholders, as well as members of the public, are urged to respond immediately to its warnings if the UK is to avoid a repeat of the summer floods. The review makes 15 "urgent recommendations" including managing flood risk, groundwater monitoring, local and national planning and response, public information and public preparedness.
Secretary of state for the environment, Hilary Benn, accepted the report's urgent recommendations on behalf of the Government. "Earlier this year I announced a significant increase in funding for flood and coastal erosion risk management. This will rise from its current level of £600m, to £650m in 2008-09, £700m in 2009-10 and £800 million in 2010-11," he said.
The report is written from the flood victims' point of view, calling for action on behalf of those whose lives have been brutally affected by the floods. Sir Michael visited many of the flooded areas to talk to locals as well as representatives from the emergency services, local authorities and other local organisations.
There needs to be a better response to surface water flooding, he says, for which no warning system was in place, and improved protection for critical infrastructure and national communications installations. The review also demanded stronger local leadership and forward planning.
Managing director at Lloyds TSB Insurance, Phil Loney, agreed that planning for and response to flooding needs to be improved. However, he said: "We all know that it’s just a matter of time before serious floods strike again, so it is vital that we do everything possible to prevent our homes being damaged so catastrophically.
"It’s true that insurance is the last line of defence in disaster such as the floods, but clearly there are steps we can all take to try and prevent the flood waters doing their worst."
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