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"No assistance" for cut-off village during floods
A BUCKS village was left off the radar when it came to help from the authorities during its time of need – that is the view of the parish council as it looks to protect itself from future damage.
Villagers in Medmenham summarised that "no co-ordinated assistance was provided by local authorities during or post the flood event".
As well as highlighting a lack of support from the council, residents have called for the Environment Agency to reassess the way they issue flood warnings to better reflect conditions on the ground.
Speaking on behalf of the parish council, Keiran Millard said: "To summarise the position of Medmenham, in 2014 we experienced floods that, according to a resident who experienced them, were as bad as 1947.
"We got through it with a mixture of stoic determination and community spirit – ‘It floods here - we get on with it.’
"What we achieved was largely in spite of, rather than as a result of, any help from local authorities. We are not pointing figures, but there is only so much we can do as a community from the bottom up.
"If 2014 is a measure of things to come we need an active partnership with district and county councils as well as the EA and energy companies to take a share of the burden."
Medmenham, which lies in the flood plain around three miles west of Marlow, experienced fast-flowing flood water of up to 80cm deep after the waters poured in to the village.
Some 23 homes - half of the houses in the village's flood plain - were directly affected when the Thames burst its banks in January, with levels peaking in mid February.
Mark Gissing, a kind-hearted worker at nearby Medmenham Abbey, offered rides in a wheelie bin suspended on the vehicle for villagers cut off when flood waters surged through the village.
Residents on the south end of Ferry Lane, which runs through the centre of the village, clambered aboard the unusual taxi to reach their homes, with many able to stay throughout because of the service.
But Mr Millard said the village had no direct contact from Wycombe District Council, and that when they finally showed up, the sandbag deliveries were useless with most of the village already underwater.
The 47-year-old engineer added that eventually an army unit arrived to see if they could offer help, but that no warning or co-ordinated approach was put forward when they needed it.
However, he did concede that residents are aware of the risks of living in the flood plain village, but that this should not mean they do not receive the same support as other affected areas.
Wycombe District Council said over 15,000 sandbags were handed out during January and February and that the council co-ordinated with parish councils, Bucks County Council and the fire service.
Spokesman Sue Robinson said: "After any incident we review our plans and processes to identify lessons and ensure that they remain fit for purpose.
"The active response from those who suffered from flooding was one of the positives taken from this incident and as part of the recovery process we are working with Parish Councils to harness this community spirit and ensure that those affected have the tools to be more resilient to future emergencies."
Part of the criticism levelled at the Environment Agency was the adequacy of its flood warning system, with residents claiming water is already starting to enter the village and driveways before any alert is issued.
But the EA has defended itself, saying the alerts were put in place in good time and that the warning system is designed to flag up when floods begin to threaten life and property and not before.
Spokesman Ash Dobson said: "Flood alerts are issued when the rivers are expected to overtop their banks, spill out into the floodplain and it is at this stage that people need to consider what action they may need to take. We expect to see roads and gardens flooded at this stage but no properties.
"We will be working closely with both Medmenham Parish Council and Buckinghamshire County Council to investigate what happened during the recent flooding in the village and the wider community and to consider any recommendations that can be taken forward. "
The report and evidence produced by the community will be extremely useful in our investigations."
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