Working with the Environment Agency, councils, emergency services and the Armed Forces, contractor Kier has mobilised teams of employees, who operate in local communities, to fill and distribute sandbags to protect homes and businesses from rising water levels and the threat of flooding.
Kier has donated more than 32,000 sandbags and more than 1,355 tonnes of sand so far to flood-stricken communities in Somerset, Surrey, Aylesbury and the Thames Valley.
Its Surrey Highways team is running a 24-hour operation with the Army to keep up with the demand for sandbags.
Working with the Canal & River Trust, its Team Van Oord JV [a joint venture partnership between Van Oord, Kier Services, Mackley Construction and Royal Haskoning DHV] has redeployed staff to help provide temporary defences in Somerset.
The company says that it is “committed to helping the local communities we serve as much as we can in these difficult times”.
Experienced plant drivers from CITB’s National Construction College in Norfolk are standing by to provide support to flood-affected communities, by shoring up floor defences, moving livestock and possibly also in clear-up operations.
With the country set to face more severe storms in the days ahead, CITB is working alongside plant manufacturer JCB to make machinery and expertise available to support flood relief efforts. Six instructors from the National Construction College are waiting to be despatched to provide support in the south of England.
Andy Walder, director of CITB’s National Construction College, said: “It has been difficult to watch the impact that the storms have had in the past few weeks. And, with flooding expected to get worse, we welcome the opportunity to work with JCB on flood relief projects.
“Our team is made up of some of the most highly skilled plant operators in the country. Working alongside local communities, local authorities, and other agencies we are only too pleased lend our skills to delivering practical support on the ground, wherever it is needed.”
JCB is sending four Fastrac tractors with trailers, which are likely to be used in rural flood-hit communities, and two back-hoe loaders that would be used in shoring up flood defences.
As floods and severe weather conditions continue to affect many parts of the UK, record numbers of homeowners are searching not only for flood recovery tradesmen, but damp and waterproofing experts on the TrustMark website. TrustMark, the government-endorsed quality mark for tradesmen and small businesses, has seen the number of searches for flood protection services more than double since the bad weather began, to over 8,500 searches in January 2014 alone, a 300% increase from the same period last year.
Flood recovery specialists are in high demand after the storms of December and January, as the number of searches for flood recovery specialists increased more than sevenfold compared to last year, representing more than 3% of all searches in January 2014. And more homeowners are seeking to prevent flood damage before it even occurs: damp proofing and timber treatment specialists were the fifth most sought-after trade out of 21 this past month, and searches for underground waterproofing specialists have nearly doubled since December.
Engineers from contractor Osborne are helping to recover rail services for customers, following a series of landslips in Botley, Hampshire.
The relentless stormy weather over the past few weeks caused an 80 metre section of embankment to collapse, forcing the line to be closed. Osborne has been working onsite 24 hours a day to minimise the disruption to customers. In some places, the track has dropped by as much as two metres.
The repair works involve building temporary access to the site, a task made more complex by having to transport several thousand tonnes of material across flooded fields. Tracks and cables are being removed and lines of sheet piles are being installed so that the embankment can be rebuilt in between them for the line to be reinstated on top.
The Met Office is forecasting more extreme weather for today (Friday 14), issuing Amber warnings for rainfall in the south west, and high winds along the south coast. According to a spokeswoman, parts of Cornwall, south and east Devon, and parts of Somerset could experience rainfall of up to 40 mm in a day, and exposed places along the south coast could experience winds of 70-80mph.
She said: “A lot of the storm fronts we’ve had so far have gone from 10mm [a day] to 20 or 30mm, so 40mm is quite considerable. And it will fall quickly, which doesn’t give the drains and waterways time to recover, which will lead to localised flooding and high spray on the roads.”
The Met Office offers construction companies various forecasting services, including five-day site-specific forecasts and WeatherWindows software that can help with planning site tasks up to 15 days ahead.
New Civil Engineer reports that contractor Bam Nuttall is this week preparing to work up designs to permanently reinstate a badly storm-damaged section of the Great Western Main Line in Dawlish, Devon. Around 80m of sea wall was washed away by high tides and stormy seas on 4 February, taking a significant stretch of the Great Western Main Line railway with it.
Network Rail has drafted Bam Nuttall in as principal contractor for the remediation work. Bam Nuttall is forming a project team with regional contractors Amalgamated Construction and Dyer & Butler plus Network Rail’s engineering team and its Western Route division. The rail operator has said it will take six weeks to reinstate the 80m of track and coastline that was swept away by storms last week.
At the end of January, accountancy firm PwC said that its estimate for insured and uninsured items destroyed by the floods, heavy rain and wind stood at £630m. But Hiscox, the insurance company, said this week that this figure could now double as the bad weather has continued.
But Mark Carney, governor of the Bank of England, has warned that the effects of the disruption could derail the economic recovery. He told ITV News: “There’s a big human cost here, […] then there’s the disruption to economic activity that we see not just through transport, but farming clearly will be affected for some time, and other businesses. It is something that will affect the near-time outlook.”