A RESILIENT COMMUNITY is one which can fend for itself in a state of emergency. In a local emergency scenario, whether that be a flood, freezing cold weather, extreme heat, a global pandemic, or something we might only imagine at this stage, then for lots of reasons local towns and villages might be cut off from traditional emergency and aid services. In this case, communities might have to fend for themselves.
…In the event of an extreme flooding event, on the scale or worse than 2007, then could Hedon cope and respond well to an emergency? Imagine the scenario where the rest of Hull and Holderness has been affected by catastrophe too; police, fire, ambulance and council emergency services are stretched to breaking point! A call for help to 999, or 101 or 111 cannot guarantee an immediate response. We’re on our own in Hedon, and the surrounding villages, to cope the best we can…
The importance of this need for resilience was demonstrated in the floods of 2007 and the “Big Freeze” of 2010; in both cases, some areas in Holderness were cut off and the traditional emergency services were stretched, so communities literally had to help themselves. Volunteers helped out in their local areas whether with sandbags and shoring up flood defences, or clearing snow and ice from paths and roads.
More recently with the COVID-19 pandemic, volunteers have lent a hand with helping those isolated or shielding in their homes, and now with the vaccination programme.
Emergencies, disruptions to normal life, are not always predictable so preparing for the unpredictable – and even the unthinkable – is obviously of great importance. How many would have predicted the global pandemic caused by COVID-19? It is for such occasions that Parish and Town Councils since 2011 have been encouraged by the East Riding of Yorkshire Council (ERYC) to lead on the development of Community Emergency Plans.
Hedon Town Council.
Hedon Town Council has produced an Emergency Plan and at a meeting yesterday (Emergency Planning Committee 10 Feb), it agreed to form a Working Group to look at what public information should be put on the Town Council website as a public information source on how to proceed in an emergency. This will probably include important contact details of those offering help, support and advice. The Town Council published and circulated a letter to households in December last year that listed agencies offering services to residents during the current pandemic.
The actual practical working Emergency Plan necessarily contains private information (contact details, telephone numbers, etc) that will enable essential communication to take place in an emergency between those organising and supporting a response. For that reason, the plan itself will not be published in the public domain.
The recent lesson from the global pandemic revealed just how willing to help local people are in the case of emergencies. Before the NHS Responders came online and before the East Riding Community Hub existed, local people (via the local shops, a local school, and an informal volunteer group) had already stepped forward to volunteer with shopping, prescription deliveries, driving, befriending and offering reassurance. This informal volunteering has now being superseded by a more formal programme supported by the HEY Smile Foundation. This is a significant improvement from the situation that existed in March 2020, but perhaps something ‘local’ has been lost? There may room for a local dedicated responder volunteer group to be established that can identify and support people with skills and resources that would be willing to help in cases of local emergency?
On a lighter note… in 2013 a Freedom of Information request to the East Riding of Yorkshire Council asked what provisions the council had in place in the event of a zombie invasion? But the council did not hold such information. Reassuring, eh?