Lessons that had to be learned from response to Leeds Boxing Day floods

Aerial picture over the Kirkstall Road area of Leeds.
Aerial picture over the Kirkstall Road area of Leeds.
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A new report on the fallout from Storm Eva says the response to the emergency was a “credit to the city”.

But the Leeds City Council report also identifies a number of areas where lessons have had to be learned.

It says the “biggest challenge” was a loss of internet and e-mail services due to the flooding. “IT networks are now just as important an asset as electrical substations,” warns the report.

It goes on: “The location of the supplying Data Centre was unknown which is something that should be learned from, not just in terms of the council’s own services but also where other organisations in the city receive their data connection from.”

The report also says there were “equipment issues” due to a shortage of vehicles and road signage, adding: “Individual services might wish to reflect any resource deficiencies as a lesson learned to take into their future resource planning.”

Turning to staffing and the difficulties caused by the floods striking during the Christmas holidays, the report says: “During Storm Eva there was an overwhelming response of officers who either came in on days off or extended their hours to ensure services continued to run.

“This was a real credit to the organisation but should not be seen as a long term solution as goodwill may be tested if events become more frequent or happen in non-holiday periods.”

The report also says there has been a “reflection from many” that what it calls “Emergency Management Gold and Silver command structures” should have been fully activated.

It adds: “Whilst there was a Gold command centre set up at the West Yorkshire level involving the multi-agency response, not having these structures in place for Leeds City Council, or a formal meeting of the emergency management team, meant that there was less of a strategic planning approach taken to the response and the recovery.

“Senior officers instead became heavily involved in some instances in co-ordinating operational matters, which would normally sit within a silver command structure.”

However, the report concludes: “The Storm Eva event was a significant challenge to the council, to the city and to a large part of the north of England.

The response in Leeds from all those involved was a credit to the city and showed the resilience and community spirit that exists.

“Leeds City Council has been praised for its response locally and nationally and the recommendations of this report should be considered within this context.”