In June 2007 England was hit with heavy rains. In Yorkshire, there was flooding on the Hull that affected the living conditions of 20,000 people forcing 6,300 to live in temporary accommodations. The rainfall in June in the region was the worst that had ever been recorded with 250mm or 10 inches of rain in one month. June 25 alone had 105mm or just over 4 inches of rain. Beyond the rainfall there were several other causes of the flooding.
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Hull is a low lying region where 68 per cent of the land is below tide level. As a result, there are five rivers that are pumped out of the area through the sewage system. With the excessive rain the sewage systems were overwhelmed.
There were backup systems in place, however these systems were not suited to a one-in-30-year storm event because of renovations; instead they were suitable for an average annual storm. So, even those these systems were activated, they could not relieve the flooding enough to prevent home damage. The reports suggest that if the backup systems ran at one-in-30-year event levels no flooding would have occurred.
One of the finding of the various independent bodies was that while there were several agencies (e.g. Yorkshire Water, Environment Agency, Hull CC) working on the flooding issues there was inadequate cooperation, consultation and unity between these groups.
The agencies only took responsibility for what was within their jurisdiction and were not prepared for the collaboration that was necessary. There was not any precedent of being influenced by or working with outside agencies.
There was not common agreement on key pumping stations, substations, and other strategic locations that would allow for a response to this event.
The failure of the prevention systems
The inadequate backup systems known as Hull East and Hull West was one failed aspect of the flooding prevention system. However, there were further failures that occurred in the region as well.
The Bransholme pumping station experienced a failure during the event. There was no contingency for this occurrence. This resulted in a build-up of standing water with no mechanism for removal. The findings of the councils show that if Bransholme's pumping station had been updated as recommended in 1996 and 2001 and the East/West facilities of Hull had been updated too, no flooding would have occurred.
At the time of the flood no warning systems were in place for flash floods.While there is a floodline system that offers flood warnings, rainfall and river flooding are not among them.
Further failures occurred because there was not enough public awareness of flood risks in the region.
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- The June 2007 floods in Hull; Professor Tom Coulthard, Professor Lynne Frostick, Harold Hardcastle, Kath Jones, Dave Rogers, Malcolm Scot; August,24 , 2007.
- YORKSHIRE WATER SERVICES: Humbercare Sewerage Network Analysis; July 2008
- WATER SERVICES REGULATION AUTHORITY (OFWAT) ; HULL FLOODING JUNE 2007: EXPERT OPINION; Andy Drinkwater, Nick Orman, John Wood; January 7th, 2008.
- The June 2007 floods in Hull: Final Report by the Independent Review Body; Professor Tom Coulthard, Professor Lynne Frostick, Harold Hardcastle, Kath Jones, Dave Rogers, Malcolm Scott, Professor Greg Bankof, November 21, 2007.