Members of Parliament are urging for a reassessment of the failures of the Environment Agency in managing floods in England.

Legislators in regions of England most affected by Storm Babet are requesting a reassessment of the shortcomings of the Environment Agency (EA) following reports that certain individuals were notified of flood warnings only after their residences had already been flooded.

Toby Perkins, Member of Parliament for Chesterfield, expressed concern that residents of Tapton Terrace in Derbyshire did not receive an early warning about the floods until after their homes were already flooded. This was discovered when 83-year-old Maureen Gilbert was found deceased in flood water at the location.

Perkins stated that the EA is trying their hardest, but it is evident that they are not adequately prepared for the job. He expressed concern that the organization is not equipped to handle floods in the modern age, considering the high demands placed upon it.

On Thursday evening, the EA representative reassured us on television that there is no cause for concern. However, a thorough evaluation must be conducted and the EA’s capabilities and resources must be strengthened in order to effectively carry out their duties. The impact of the significant funding reductions they have faced over the past 13 years cannot be ignored.

Perkins expressed that individuals were experiencing feelings of anger and disappointment due to the lack of warning they received. He also stated that even just one extra hour of notice could have greatly reduced the extent of the damage.

Today, I spoke with a pub owner who mentioned that if we had received an additional hour of notice, my business could have potentially stayed afloat. However, due to the extent of the damage, I am now facing going bankrupt.

In Catcliffe, South Yorkshire, approximately 120 residences experienced flooding on Saturday when the River Rother overflowed. According to MP Sarah Champion, a flood warden had notified the EA that the nearby flood plains were inundated with water, but it took six hours for a flood alert to be issued.

She mentioned that he contacted them around 8:30pm, however many individuals were not aware until the fire department arrived at their homes at 4 or 5 in the morning.

People are feeling disappointed and frustrated because they were not informed about the situation and were not given the option to take action. If they had been notified, they could have at least moved their cars. The situation has been extremely disappointing. There are several council bungalows in the area that were affected by the flood, and the consequences could have been life-threatening.

The EA’s lack of readiness, as stated by the environment secretary Thérèse Coffey, was partly due to the direction of the rain.

During a meeting with members of the environment, food, and rural affairs committee, she explained that the majority of our rain typically comes from the west. However, the recent rain came from a different direction and our ability to predict where heavy rain would fall was not as accurate due to our lack of experience in this type of weather pattern.

The Champion stated that the situation was nonsensical. They pointed out that rain falls and makes things wet, and it still ends up in the same river. They believe that there was a sense of complacency where the others thought they had done enough. This caught them off guard.

She requested for a revision of flood modeling nationwide to ensure its accuracy in reflecting flood hazards. She also proposed a new prompt notification system to ensure timely warnings for potential flooding.

“The EA’s plans have not been updated to consider the changing world and environment,” she stated, noting that the development of two housing estates in Catcliffe may have worsened the risk of flooding, compounded by the impacts of the climate crisis.

Coffey stated that Defra and the EA will conduct a swift assessment to determine ways to improve their actions.

The EA has been requested to give a statement.


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