Defences are tested in flood training exercise

An Environment Agency response team practising building flood barriers in Geddington yesterday
An Environment Agency response team practising building flood barriers in Geddington yesterday

Flood defences were put up in a county village as emergency response teams were put through their paces.

The large metal barriers were put up at either side of the bridge in Bridge Street, Geddington, yesterday as the Environment Agency ran a training exercise.

Teams were told the River Nene, which flows through the village, had flooded following heavy rain this week and had to act fast to keep villagers safe.

Debbie Sylvester, incident response co-ordinator for the Environment Agency, said: “We need to practise and train for this sort of thing in case it actually happens.

“It’s hard to simulate a real event because we’re in the worst drought we’ve had for about 25 years, but there are little things we’ve found out.

“For example, the plastic we cut to cover the barriers was too short, so we’ve learned to do things differently in reality.

“It’s better to make mistakes now and learn from them rather than making them during a real incident.

“Sometimes we don’t give the teams any warning and they might be sent somewhere they’re not familiar with.”

The Environment Agency’s Kettering-based Welland and Nene Operations delivery teams closed the village ford for the exercise, which lasted for about an hour.

As part of their training, team members also evacuated Billing Aquadrome on Tuesday.

The last major flood in Geddington was in 1998.

A flood channel, designed to take excess river water, was built shortly afterwards and has helped eliminate flooding in the area ever since.

Russell Gillett, operations delivery team leader, said: “The exercise will ensure response times, emergency procedures and management of staff, machines and materials are effective in a real flooding emergency.

“The flood channel has reduced the risk of flooding to the village but it cannot entirely remove it. By using Geddington as a location for our test we were able to show how we could deploy our temporary defences if they were needed.

“It is vital that, like other emergency response organisations, we regularly test and update our skills to meet potential future challenges.”