Page last updated at 17:26 GMT, Friday, 11 July 2008 18:26 UK

Flood danger 'for half a million'

Residents bail out a flooded home in Treforest, Pontypridd
More people need to prepare for the risk of flooding, say flood risk officials

Homeowners need to be more aware of the risk of flooding even if they have never experienced it, says the head of Wales' flood defence strategy body.

Some half a million people live in areas which need to "further develop resilience" to flooding, says the Flood Risk Management Wales Committee (FRMW).

Chair Geraint Davies said: "Sometimes it's difficult to bring people to believe that they are at risk."

His comments came as a Barry school marked a year since it was flooded.

Around 170,000 properties are at risk of flooding as climate change brings rising sea levels and heavier downpours in valleys above Wales' flood plains, according to the committee.

The committee, which looks at the investment needed by Environment Agency Wales (EAW) for its strategic flood management, is comprised of 18 members appointed by the Welsh Assembly Government, Wales' local government body and the environment agency.

As the risk of flooding grows, they may think they are completely safe when they have never experienced any flooding
Geraint Davies, Flood Risk Management Wales

It met at the agency's offices in Cardiff on Friday to discuss a report into last summer's floods in England which killed 13 people and devastated parts of the country.

The Pitt Review's recommendations included better preparations for flooding, limiting house building on flood plains and a 25-year flood plan.

Mr Davies said Wales had "escaped the worst of last year's summer floods as the weather was worse in England" and was "ahead of the game" in its preparations for further flooding.

Sewage water

He said the committee's 30m budget was "very likely" to benefit from a further 70m of EU funding until 2015 with "more physical defences than ever" going up.

But he said there was also a need for people to recognise the risks for themselves and take advice on the preparations to make against flooding.

He said: "As the risk of flooding grows, they may think they are completely safe when they have never experienced any flooding.

The cast of Oliver! at Old Field Primary School, Barry,
Old Field Primary School marked a year since floods with a version of Oliver!

"For those people at risk, it's important to understand the risk."

He said Wales should move to an "opt-out" system of warning people about an impending flood, so householders would be contacted automatically in such an event unless they specifically asked for their details to be taken off the EAW database.

The flooding which affected England a year ago also caused flash flooding in parts of Barry in the Vale of Glamorgan.

Oak Field Primary School in Barry was affected, with the flood rising so quickly some children had to be carried out by their teachers.

Sewage water destroyed pupils' work, school equipment and pianos. The entire school had to move into temporary buildings for four months while repairs were made.

A year on, the school has marked the end of term with a production of the musical Oliver!

Deputy head teacher Suzanne Fisher said: "We want them not to have to remember the floods but to have a happy note to end this year on."

"The play is to celebrate coming back into school and a combination of working with the local community to make something very positive happen."

The production, staged with the help of the Salvation Army, had been a sell-out every afternoon, she said.


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