Morpeth Floods Case Study

Case study on the 2008 floods in Morpeth

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CASE STUDY - Morpeth Floods 2008
Morpeth is an ancient market town in the loop of river Wansbeck in north east England,
Northumberland about 15 miles from Newcastle upon Tyne and 12 miles west from the North Sea.
Historical Flooding in Morpeth
Flooding in Morpeth is not unprecedented and they have regular floods and there was a serve
flood in 1963 and the flood defences were the designed to contain a repeat of this flood
magnitude as this event was considered to be of unusual severity.
Time and Date
- 6th and 7th September 2008
- 11.26 on Saturday 6th a flood warning was issued to people in High Stanners area
- Mid-afternoon a major evacuation exercise had started and the town's emergency plans
were put into action
Rainfall Statistics
- On 4th, 5th and 6th September the Morpeth area received 235% of the rainfall that could
normally be expected in the whole of September due to a stationary front which lay across
most of the country
- Peak water level was 3.99 metres, recorded in the Wansbeck
- Morpeth received 150 mm of rain in 2 days
- 1 in 115 year event ­ current estimated
- There was prolonged rainfall with the flood peak from higher areas of the catchment area
and the soil was saturated with impermeable rock

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- The trash screens at entrances to culverts in a tributary were not being cleaned regularly
and so it lead to a blockage and the acted like a dam
- Impermeable surfaces such as tarmac made it easier for the flood water to move along
and allowed the flood water to spread faster throughout the town
- Are bridges which slows the discharge and reduce carrying capacity of the river and so it is
easier for a river to burst its bank and…read more

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Flood Management in place prior 2008
- Pleasure boats which could be used to evacuate people from their homes during a flood
- Automated telephone warning service
- Handing out sandbags to homes
- Evacuation when needed
- Flood wall from the north bank of the river around central Morpeth to the Low Stanners
area and around that area too and a flood wall on the south bank just before Telford
Bridge to the end of the Middle Greens area
- Three major multi-agency exercises…read more

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Early morning GOLD was set up which is a multi-agency, major incident co-ordination
centre and Castle Morpeth Borough Council set up an emergency control centre
- Mid-morning CMBC deployed a Green and Clean Team with signs and Sandbags and
Northumberland County Council started to evacuate properties and serve flood
warning were issued to other areas of Morpeth.
- Lunch time CMBC gets rest centre staff ready and NCC has full evacuation of High
Stanners and also opens King Edward VI School as a rest centre.…read more

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Over the next few years there was a lot of confusion between the government, council and EA. A
month on in 2011 Richard Benyon - flooding minister ­ said the project had been `deferred not
cancelled' along with over 100 other small scale schemes and this may have been down to year
after year cuts of more than 20% on flood defences.…read more

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On 13th February 2013 work started on the flood alleviation scheme with the removal of some
trees at High Stanners and in April the work started along Mitford Road and High Stanners. The
upstream storage work then began in May 2013. The primary purpose of this scheme is to protect
the town from a 1 in 137 year return period while the defences in the town and to protect from a
1 in 50 year return period.…read more

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However not everyone is happy as people in Wansbeck Street have been left out of the plans but
the EA say it is too expensive to protect them and will be given other protection such as metal
shutters. Also the people at Cotting Burn feel they have not done enough and again the EA have
said that it is too expensive to protect the houses more.…read more


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