Page last updated at 19:37 GMT, Thursday, 30 July 2009 20:37 UK

Plans for volunteer flood wardens

Communities in areas at high risk of flooding could be asked to provide volunteer flood wardens and come up with flood action plans.

The suggestions come from proposals made by the Environment Agency. A pilot scheme of the Community Flood Plan has been running in Bampton in Devon.

Groups have been designated to monitor river or sea levels, particularly at night, to provide early warnings.

The agency said wardens could help if it could not reach incidents quickly.

Community opportunities

In the pilot, other volunteers have been given the task of closing floodgates or barriers.

As well as the pilot scheme in Devon, volunteers already carry out similar roles in the Cornish village of Polperro.

Adrian Rushworth from the Environment Agency said: "We can't be everywhere in the time necessary to help affected communities.

"It's a real opportunity for communities to help themselves when we can't do everything."

However, he added that volunteers' safety was of paramount importance if communities were experiencing flooding.

Mr Rushworth said: "That is a top priority for us. We don't want anybody ever to put themselves at risk.

"It's partly about training and partly about making sure plans work alright.

"And, of course, this plan could work not just for flooding, but any problem or difficulty which affects a community, such as foot-and-mouth disease or a pollution incident."

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