Flood-hit West Sussex communities in talks 'to boost resilience'

Tanker pumping water from Felpham
Image caption Tankers had to be brought in to pump water from the streets of nearby Felpham

Communities hit by severe flooding in West Sussex are taking part in talks on how to deal with future emergencies.

A meeting on Thursday will look at the role of parish and town councils and how they can prepare, respond to and recover from an emergency.

West Sussex's county fire officer Max Hood said recent floods saw more than 1,000 emergency calls to the fire service control room in 24 hours.

He said communities could make a big difference by planning ahead.

"The blue light services will always respond to emergencies but the sheer scale of some incidents means control rooms can become swamped with 999 calls and requests for assistance," he said.

But he said if communities and individuals prepared for emergencies before they happened, this would build the area's "community resilience".

Roads impassable

Arun District Council said this involved tapping into local knowledge so communities knew where the most vulnerable people lived, and what resources were at hand if needed, such as 4x4 vehicles, boats, and qualified chain saw operators.

Towns across West Sussex were hit by flooding this summer after heavy rain.

In Littlehampton, homes were evacuated and the town saw floodwater that was 4ft (1.2m) deep.

More than 20 people, including several children, were rescued from flooded caravans at two holiday parks in Bracklesham Bay.

Several schools were closed and main roads were left impassable.

Teresa Gittins, from Action in Rural Sussex said parish and town councils had a key role to play.

Community leaders, neighbourhood representatives and local councillors from across Sussex have been invited to the meeting on Thursday.

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