The first Cumbria Flood Expo held at Carlisle Racecourse last week (2nd and 3rd February) has been hailed a success by exhibitors and visitors who learned something new and useful in the fight for flood defence at work and home.
Over 350 people attended the two day event organised by CERT UK, which aimed to help those who are still struggling with issues like insurance, flood defence and the mental anxiety that flood trauma causes. The event was also a call to action for those who have not yet taken up the government’s Flood Resilience Grants which have now an extended deadline to the end of March.
Opening the expo was national flood speaker Mary Dhonau OBE and Chief Executive of Know Your Flood Risk. Her presentation was packed with examples of how to defend your home against flood damage and included examples of homes she has visited in Cockermouth and Kendal. Mary highlighted how resilience measures can be integrated into homes cost effectively, and don’t have to look different to any other home.
Tips on sump pumps and free ideas based on common sense logic also impressed the audience which included Martyn Dyer-Smith from Petteril Street in Carlisle. Martyn said: “Mary’s talk was very articulate and clear, we’ve already installed flood prevention measures, but we came today to discover what we don’t know we don’t know. Mary talked about having a plan in place for if (or when) flooding happens again. I think that was a really useful point to make – none of us think clearly when we’re about to be flooded and a check list or plan of action is vital. We found the whole exhibition really useful, especially for our mission to sort out our drainage and return valves.”
As an exhibitor, looking back over the two day event, key sponsor Ray Moulds, Managing Director of IBS Engineered Products Ltd said: “Organised by CERT UK, the inaugural Flood Expo in Cumbria has brought together a network of key suppliers that can help and support people affected by flooding. The quality of the questions we’ve been asked by the public, and the contacts we’ve made go to highlight the importance of such an event, and it’s also a great opportunity for like-minded exhibitors to work more closely with each other. It’s definitely been worthwhile and it’s great to have such an exhibition in the north.”
Only around 40% of flooded homes have taken up the flood resilience grants in Cumbria – with some of the lowest take up being in the south of the county.
Leone Edwards from Kendal visited the exhibition as a member of the North East Kendal Flood Action Group. Leone was keen to find useful ideas and products that would help in future floods and was particularly impressed with the hydro sack flood barrier system from Gravitas International UK. Leone said: “Sandbags are far too heavy for older people to lift, but this system – which allows you to put the lightweight bags in place then soak with water to create a barrier, is ideal. It can be put in place in minutes and is practical and manageable for all ages. We’ve also picked up lots of useful information for people who still haven’t followed up on the flood resilience grants. It’s really important and hopefully, this will spur more people to follow up. It’s been a great event full of really useful ideas and we’re glad we came.”
Whilst hosted in Cumbria, there were also visitors from South West Scotland and right cross the north of England which goes to show how important such an event is to those who have been affected by the floods. It’s the first time the public has had the Cumbrian opportunity to meet over thirty exhibitors, chance to listen to eight key speakers and attend over twenty seminars.
Looking back on the event, Kerryanne Wilde, CEO at CERT UK said “In the autumn, we attended a Flood Expo in London and really felt one was needed in Cumbria. The feedback has been extraordinary and it has become a Flood Expo for the North – not just Cumbria. All the exhibitors have been pleased with the quality of enquiries they’ve received and are already asking if we’re going to organise another in the north.
“Feedback from those that were flooded has also been very positive, many didn’t know what was really available and they said that seeing everything under one roof has been a great benefit. We’re also encouraged by the number of people looking to follow up on the flood resilience grants which one of the key aims of the expo. The businesses taking part have a genuine passion for what they do and they have been very supportive – we can’t thank them enough for helping make the event such a success.”
Anyone wanting to find out more about the event or about the work of CERT UK can visit www.certuk.org or contact the CERT Team on 01768 593 190.