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Housing association rises to flood threat

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Environment

Housing association rises to floods challenge Housing association rises to floods challenge

Sovereign Housing Association's chief operating officer Jonathan Cowie describes his organisation's response to recent flooding.

Like many housing associations and local authorities across southern England, we have launched a major response to the floods, evacuating 12 households from flooded properties so far and deploying more than 1,400 sandbags to protect homes.

With a month’s worth of rain forecast for the next few days in some areas we are preparing our residents and our teams for more flooding of homes across Berkshire, Gloucestershire, Hampshire and Oxfordshire.

Our priority has been to look after our residents, and our staff have been out in the areas at risk, protecting homes where we can and keeping in close contact with all those that may be affected.

In a major incident like this working closely with local authorities, fire and rescue services and the Environment Agency is vital in making sure our residents are prepared and safe.

The worst affected area so far has been the Buckskin area of Basingstoke, where 10 homes have been evacuated either because of flooding or as a precautionary measure. A number of other properties here remain at risk from rising flood waters.

All affected residents have been found alternative accommodation, whether in hotels or with friends or family, and in those cases where they will not be able to move back into their homes straight away, we are looking at what longer-term accommodation we can provide for them.

In Newbury, two homes have been evacuated and several other areas are being monitored closely. Our housing staff and neighbourhood wardens are out advising and reassuring residents and we are working with West Berkshire Council on contingency planning.

Several villages in West Berkshire where we have residents have also been affected. We have kept in regular contact with these households, even if in some cases we have been unable to access the villages as we have been advised that vehicles entering villages can cause waves that might push floodwaters into houses.

So far, our properties in Oxfordshire have not been affected, but several were flooded in 2007, and we are talking to these residents to make sure they are prepared.

Elsewhere, we are monitoring the situation in places like Winchester, where we have been forced to close one of our offices, Christchurch and Tewkesbury.

I’ve been really impressed at how residents, communities and various organisations have pulled together to respond to this challenge. However, as the rain is still falling and rivers can take time to rise, we will be keeping up this intensive effort for days and weeks to come, to ensure we keep our residents safe.

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