As part of ongoing efforts to become more resilient to the threat of flooding, Runnymede Borough Council has developed and is implementing a new policy, for the distribution of sandbags to residents.
This new policy is based on the following assertions:
- The Borough of Runnymede is one of the most exposed to river flooding in England. Past events have shown that it is not possible to deliver sandbags to all who need and request them.
- It is not possible to assist in the placing of sandbags at properties. This is because of the number required per property and the number of properties requesting them.
- The effectiveness of sandbags of protecting properties from internal flooding is very limited. Many properties are at risk of ground water flooding as well as river flooding.
- The previous methods of sandbag distribution consumed Council resources. These resources would have been better placed in supporting other parts of the emergency response, such as assisting the most vulnerable with evacuations, running emergency rest centres and assisting in protecting critical infrastructure.
- Past efforts of sandbag distribution were unachievable and unsustainable given the limited and shrinking resources of the Council. This was leading to residents feeling frustrated and upset. At the same time, many residents and communities wished to do more to help themselves and others. We hope that our Community Sandbag Distribution Centres will help.
The new policy
The key part of the new arrangements for sandbag distribution is that RBC, in partnership with community groups where possible, will make a decision as to whether activation of one or more Community Sandbag Distribution Centres (CSDCs) are needed. Runnymede Borough Council will help by setting up and supplying CSDCs with filling equipment, sand and empty sandbags. Council staff may assist where necessary and if possible.
Careful identification of suitable sites is already taking place. However, is appreciated that flooding may happen faster than these CSDCs can be established. Therefore, Runnymede Borough Council has bought a stock of HydroSnake synthetic sandbags. These are lightweight before use and quick to activate. Where necessary they will be used as an immediate response to rapid onset flooding. This will be subject to the availability, and based on an individual assessment of their suitability.
Community resilience and volunteers
The best way to cope with flooding is to have a strong community, prepared to help each other in times of need.
Runnymede Borough Council is working with existing community groups in the Borough, and encouraging other groups to form. These groups are best placed to be aware of the needs of their community.
Runnymede has always had a large number of volunteers willing to help during times of need. It is intended that this will also happen in the future, and volunteers will help their communities at their local CSDCs by filling sandbags for residents in need. Local knowledge from community groups and logistical support from Runnymede Borough Council will lead to a community effort so that sandbags will be made available to those who need them in the most coordinated way possible.
We know that vulnerable residents may not be able to easily access CSDCs or place sandbags around their property. Where possible we strongly encourage family, friends and communities to support them. The Council and emergency services focus on those who have no support and need direct help with evacuation, re-housing, medication and other support.