Responding to a flood

In Oxford, river floods tend to develop slowly and the Environment Agency gives more than a day's warning as floods approach Oxford.

Once alerted, our staff monitor critical levels several times a day in order to track the rate of rise and decide whether and when to deploy temporary defences. 

Each flood is different, so decisions have to take into account what's happening elsewhere in Oxford and whether to respond sooner or later to work in daylight or keep costs down. This means that some defences might seem to be put out too soon, only just in time, or perhaps not at all if only a limited rise is expected.

Under flood response conditions, our staff on standby monitor flooding in all critical areas and maintain contact with other organisations such as the Environment Agency, Police, and Fire and Rescue.

In small floods (and the early stages of larger ones) we deploy defences at critical points and then keep continuous staff cover there. Those points become "Bronze Commands" which keep supervisors up to date with changes. If floods (or other emergencies) get worse, we participate in a "Silver Command" arrangement which the Police use to co-ordinate responses over a wider area. In very serious emergencies the Police establish a "Gold Command" to co-ordinate several "Silver" areas and in extreme events co-ordination is undertaken nationally.

More information

Flood response plans