The Cumbria Resilient Showcase: A Community Innovation project of the DEFRA Roundtable

Following Dr Peter Bonfield’s ‘The Property Flood Resilience Action Plan’ report published in September 2016, BERG has partnered with DEFRA to deliver the Property Flood Resilience Roundtable.  The Roundtable (chaired by Graham Brogden, Head of Technical Claims at Aviva and BERG Member) aims to help improve the flood resilience of properties across the UK. BERG members and supporters (including Aviva, Adler & Allan,  Building Research Establishment, FloodRe, Cunningham Lindsey and the Environment Agency) continue to lead on elements of the Roundtable’s  delivery and progress, taking a proactive and collaborative approach within the six Task Groups.    The Action Plan and its recommendations accompany HM Government National Flood Resilience Review.

Task Group 1: Community Innovation

As part of the Roundtable, Task Group 1 is being led by Mark Calvert, CEO of Adler & Allan, Chair of BERG'S Flood and Storms Group and the recently appointed HRH's Ambassador for Yorkshire and Humber. This Task group, initially focussed on assisting flood victims with advice on Flood Resilient adaptation, is now applying the lessons learnt to install resilience measures in properties at risk of flooding with building industry support.

This Community Innovation project will help build a greater understanding of the existing flood resilient measures available on the market in the UK and encourage innovation in the flood resilience sector. I will raise awareness of proven flood resilience measures and enable householders and business owners to take action and make their premises more resilient. The overall aim is to reduce the devastation that flooding can cause; an issue close to the hearts of many in the Cumbrian region.

At the core of the project is the real life demonstration of flood installation measures at three properties in Cumbria led by Mary Dhonau, Chief Executive of the Know Your Flood Risk Campaign. Follow the links to videos about each of the properties:

  1. Edenside Barn (residential) in Great Corby, Carlisle
  2. Botcherby Community Centre, Carlisle
  3. The Lucas Restaurant on High Hill, Keswick

Products and materials

The project has called for support from companies and individuals willing to support the campaign; through funding, donation of materials, services or man power. The response has been overwhelming.  Expert surveyors from a range of businesses have lent their services free of charge to complete detailed Flood Risk Surveys of the properties and flood protection providers and builders specialising in flood resilience repairs have supplied materials that will help make the inside of the properties more resilient.

The idea behind the Resilient Showcase Project is to use products and materials that will try to keep the water out.  In a less severe flood those products, all of which have been tested to a high specification, are expected to reduce water ingress. It is acknowledged that when flooding is severe, these products may well be overtopped.  The showcase highlights what can be done to manage the residual risk, so we are adapting the properties, using differing interventions to reduce the amount of damage that flood water can do when it enters a property.  This will enable the property owners to get back in sooner.

As part of the showcase project, they are using a variety of methods, such as flood resilient kitchens, cavity membranes or natural cement to the walls, ceramic tiles, or resin to the floors, closed cell insulation, dragon board, non-return valves to the drains and so on. Once the floodwater has gone, it is hoped the property owners will be able to hose down, sanitize and get back to normal very quickly.

Emotional strain

It is well documented that being flooded, causes tremendous stress and anguish to those affected. Not only do they lose their home and belongings due to the flood water, but they are forced to live away from their home (where they feel safe and secure) often living miles away for months on end. They have to try to carry on with daily life, whilst project managing the building site their home has become.  Many people say the 'recovery period' is worse than actually being flooded!  This causes great interruption to daily life and many people become unwell and suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder as a result. Once the properties have been made flood resilient and have bespoke emergency plans in place, it is hoped that the occupants will not be displaced for much longer then the duration of the flood and that any flood insurance claim will either be minimal, or non-existent.

Learning points

The 3 learning points from this project that are key to successful outcomes:        

  1. Good research and planning are paramount to success - flood resilient properties are not built in a day!It takes time to understand how and what measures are appropriate for a particular property.Rigorous testing ensures that products are as resilient as possible to reduce the effects of flooding.
  2. Find all the pieces to the jigsaw before you start anything – it is worth taking the time initially to properly plan for and ensure you have the right tools before implementing any solutions.This will reduce time spent in the long run.
  3. Always remain outwardly positive and enthusiastic to encourage others to believe in the end goal – people will be apprehensive about change and implementing measures in the event of a disaster which may or may not have occurred yet.You are forcing them to think about worst case scenario and the thought of it can be overwhelming for some people.Of course, the goal is not to scare people but rather encourage them to adopt an approach which asks them to think about what happens if a flood occurs.You need to try to reassure them that in the event of a flood they are as prepared and ready as they can be which in turn reduces the damage and time spent away from their homes and businesses.