Megan Hart got involved in her local Community Emergency Response Team (CERT) after watching the road outside her home in the seaside town of Brixham “turn into a mini river with heavy rain” and wanting to investigate further. Megan was made coordinator of the group from the second meeting, which was chaired by the Environment Agency.
Located on the South Devon coast, between the Dart and Teign estuaries, Brixham is an area of severe flooding with around 600 properties at risk. One of the town’s two watercourses, Higher Brixham, poses a risk of flash flooding and the town also experiences surface water and coastal flooding.
Brixham was one of the 24 communities included in the Defra funded Devon Community Resilience Pathfinder project in 2015, facilitated by Devon County Council, Torbay Council, Plymouth City Council and the Environment Agency. The project worked with Brixham to build the community’s local flood resilience and worked with the CERT to develop its emergency plan.
In 2017, as part of the first phase of the Lottery funded Communities Prepared programme, the group received training and were supported in testing their flood plan. The training covered an introduction to emergency response, the different volunteer role profiles, understanding flooding and flood risk awareness. The group also participated in a multi-community training session with the neighbouring parishes of Galmpton and Paignton.
Additional support was provided by the Communities Prepared team to assist the group in accessing high vis jackets and PPE.
“Because I’ve lived here all my life, I had the background knowledge of where the culverts were. They called me the local knowledge coordinator.”Megan Hart, Brixham Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
“We were guided along very closely for several years and then once the plan was written obviously they had to step back and let us stand on our own two feet.”Megan Hart, Brixham Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
“The training was extremely helpful. It instilled in everybody who attended how serious the matter was for their own personal protection as well as the people who were being helped.”Megan Hart, Brixham Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)
“We’ve now got a lot of equipment. This plus the training from Communities Prepared has built confidence in our team. Our volunteers feel empowered that they’d be able to go out and respond.”Megan Hart, Brixham Community Emergency Response Team (CERT)