Released on 16 August 2006
Many parts of Surrey Heath experienced flooding during Sunday night's intense prolonged rainstorm. Surrey Heath Borough Council put in place standby arrangements to provide temporary accommodation and transport for residents should the police have decided an area needed evacuating because of the depth and extent of flooding. Chobham was particularly at risk and the plan for standby accommodation and transport was activated at 11pm on Sunday following a warning from Surrey Police Opens in a new window.
Surrey County Council Opens in a new window is responsible for dealing with flooding affecting the highways, including road gullies and culverts. It is the Environment Agency's Opens in a new window responsibility to deal with main river flooding and Thames Water Opens in a new window is responsible for flooding affecting public sewers. All three agencies were engaged in dealing with Sunday night's flooding.
Many drainage systems were unable to cope with the extraordinary high volumes of rainfall, which was recorded at four inches in three hours. Those on private land are the responsibility of the landowners. Some places, such as Lightwater Bog are areas of special scientific interest, where the extent of any drainage works is intentionally limited to retain the natural wetland.
Whilst holding agencies for highways and water works, Surrey Heath Borough Council used its discretionary powers to supply sandbags to assist the relatively small number of households, mainly in Chobham, not protected by the very successful and extensive drainage schemes it put in place during the 1980s and 1990s. The water authority agency was removed upon the privatisation of that industry, and the highways agency was taken back by Surrey County Council in 2001. Before losing the highways agency, Surrey Heath arranged to store sandbags at Chobham Fire Station for householders to collect, but since losing the agencies the Council has not had the resources to offer a sandbag service and believes neither the water company nor the County Council has adapted that discretionary policy.
The Council recognises that this was an extraordinary and difficult 24 hours for many people, and both Councillors and Officers were fully engaged to do all they possibly could to alleviate the situation within the resources available.