Read the response from the flooding authorities in our Special Report
- Credit: CCC/ Andza Alive
The Hunts Post approached Cambridgeshire County Council, Anglian Water and the Environment Agency to see what they propose to do to prevent future floods having such a devastating impact.
The ruling Conservatives on Cambridgeshire County Council approved an extra £2.73m in flood preventative measures at their annual budget on February 9.
They addressed the fact that flooding cuts across several agencies had an effect and say highways teams are set to clear 11,270 drains by the end of March.
Cllr Joshua Schumann, chairman of the environment and sustainability committee, said: “We know the flooding over Christmas and last month had a devastating impact on local residents and agencies, including Cambridgeshire County Council, worked 24/7 to limit the disruption.
“We are keen to learn lessons from the third wettest rainfall since record began, which is why we are working together with all those organisations who have a role in flooding and drainage to reduce the risks in future.
“It is clear that flooding cuts across several agencies, and we have met with representatives from each. We have also engaged with parish councils and local communities, including arranging ‘walk arounds’ to get a better knowledge of flooding hot spots.
“We have attended 12 community flood meetings across Godmanchester, St Ives, Alconbury, Brampton, Buckden to name a few, to discuss with those directly affected.
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“We’re working with the Environment Agency to start setting up flood groups and talking to communities about having flood plans in place, we are writing to all relevant landowners to remind them of their responsibilities to keep their ditches and drains clear and going through all 700 reports to map those incidents and see what actions can be taken.
“This will also inform the council’s investigations into major flooding reports, an important role under the Flood and Water Management Act.
“The extra funding, recently approved by Full Council, £2.73 million extra in measures to prevent flooding and improve local biodiversity.
“This includes new measures such as extra drain clearing at all known risk sites, better verge maintenance, a verge ‘cut and collect’ trial and provide both active and practical support for local communities to address flooding.
“Our highways team is working with our contractor to significantly increase the gully clearing and this work is well underway - with extra crews on the ground and in Huntingdonshire they will have emptied 11,270 drains by the end of March and Ramsey is currently having their 1,471 drains cleared.
“We know that gullies only play a small part in flood management but we’re taking action where we can.”
Then there is the ongoing dilemma of sewage flooding polluting villages Hemingford Grey and Sawtry.
Anglian Water, who have been the main port of call for residents with sewage issues, say “excess water inundated the sewer network”.
A spokesperson said: “The flooding was caused by extremely high groundwater levels and flooding from the Great Ouse.
“This excess water inundated the sewer network, rather than there being a specific problem with the network itself.
“Sewers are simply not designed to take this volume of excess water, nor is it possible to tanker away the sheer amount of water when a river is in flood.
“Our teams have been working tirelessly to keep our network running as well as possible, our pumps have been working flat out, and we’ve used tankers, as well as agreeing additional over-pumping with the Environment Agency to take some of the water away where possible.”
The Environment Agency said they also recognised the “devastating impact” that the floods had on people's lives.
“Protecting people continues to be our top priority,” a spokesperson said.
“After any flood we carry out comprehensive inspections of our flood defence structures. The results are used to plan our maintenance as well as the more immediate repairs that might be needed.
“Targeted de-silting forms part of our maintenance approach where it is effective in reducing risk.”