Floods: drastic shortage of accommodation for victims

PUBLISHED: 13:39 06 November 2008 | UPDATED: 22:35 15 June 2010

EAST Devon District Council s Leader paid tribute on Wednesday to officers of the council for their efforts during and after the freak weather disaster in Ottery St Mary and other parts of East Devon last week.

EAST Devon District Council's Leader paid tribute on Wednesday to officers of the council for their efforts during and after the freak weather disaster in Ottery St Mary and other parts of East Devon last week. Meanwhile, funds and accommodation are being sought to help flood victims.

Councillor Sara Randall Johnson was speaking at a meeting of EDDC's Executive Board at which members agreed to support a flood relief fund set up to help victims of the disaster, to publicise a feedback surgery organised by the Environment Agency, and to consider the possibility of council tax relief for residents displaced from their homes by the severe weather.

She said that teams from StreetScene and Housing and Social Inclusion at EDDC had been particularly active and she also thanked local Ward Members for their swift and effective response.

The emergency has highlighted a drastic shortage of rented accommodation. The council is keen to hear from owners of holiday lets that are vacant during the off-season, as these may be of use to people who have to move out of their homes so that vital repairs can be carried out. Anyone with a vacant holiday let should contact the Housing Team on 01395 517 469.

EDDC will match public donations to the Ottery St Mary Flood Relief Fund, set up last week to assist people throughout East Devon who had been affected by the flooding on 29/30 October. The Fund currently stands at £1,685, and would therefore be doubled up to £3,370 by EDDC's contribution.

Cheques and postal orders may be sent to EDDC's offices at Knowle, Sidmouth, EX10 8HL, and should be made out to the "Ottery St Mary Flood Relief Fund".

The proposed objectives of the Fund are: 'To provide financial help to residents of Ottery St Mary and surrounding areas of East Devon whose homes have been flooded by the 29/30 October floods and who have suffered hardship as a result'.

The fund's trustees will be the Leader, who is also Ward Member of Ottery Rural, Councillors Roger Giles and David Cox, Ward Members for Ottery Town, and Councillor Paul Diviani, Chairman of the Council. They will look at applications for assistance and decide the level of support to give from the fund. They will also look at Council Tax relief for hard-hit victims of the flooding.

The Environment Agency feedback "surgery" will be held on Wednesday 12 November at Ottery's Tumbling Weir Hotel from 12 noon to 8.00 p.m. This will be an opportunity for those affected by the storms to tell of their experiences and help the agencies involved to shape plans for dealing with future emergencies.

'Admirable'

Sara Randall Johnson said after the meeting: "The experience with the MSC Napoli, though a different kind of emergency, stood us in good stead last week, as the various agencies came together well and worked tirelessly for the benefit of the community. The swiftness of the response was admirable. I'm sure we can find areas where things could have been done better or differently and that learning is what we need to take forward into the future.

"I hope as many people as possible will come along on12 November and give us their feedback, because their personal experience is very valuable in our learning. If people can't make the surgery, we'd welcome their feedback over the phone, by letter or online".

* As cash continued to come in for the Flood Relief Fund - EDDC staff made their own small but important contribution to the coffers.

The Council's Development Control Team boasts a lunch-time "Potato Club" whose members cook jacket potatoes for each other once a week. The money raised by the club is donated to chosen charities and this week the club's chairman, Enforcement Officer Dave Collings, agreed with members that £200 should be released immediately to the new fund.

The club has been going for 15 years and over that time has raised many thousands of pounds for several local charities, including the Air Ambulance, Children's Hospice, Children in Need, Shelter Box Trust, Exmouth Scouts and Vranch House, Exeter.

Members of the club met on Wednesday morning to hand over a cheque for £200 to Councillor Andrew Moulding, EDDC's Portfolio Holder Resources, who is one of the Fund's trustees.


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