EU Flood Command to improve EU response

EU FloodCommand is a new UK-led, EU co-funded project to improve cooperation between member states as they plan and implement a joined-up response to coastal flooding disasters. Coastal flooding has been a cause of major loss of life and destruction of property over recent decades across Europe, and the problem is due to get worse with global warming and predicted rises in sea levels. The EU has agreed to fund the project up to 80 per cent of its overall eligible costs.
In the run up to a EU FloodCommand Conference on May 9th, I spoke to Rod Stafford who chairs the project board. He outlined, albeit in Euro jargon, that EU FloodCommand is a pilot project co-funded by the European Commission under the Call for Proposals for Cross Border Cooperation in the Fight Against Natural Disasters. The project is run by a board consisting of representatives from the Maritime & Coastguard Agency (MCA), the Irish Coastguard, the Swedish Rescue Services Agency and VectorCommand Ltd
The key people involved in the project are John Astbury, Chief Executive of the MCA, Jeremy Azis, the managing director of VectorCommand Ltd, and Rod Stafford who chairs the Project Board.
Rod Stafford explained: "The project is a blend of conferences, workshops, technology development and exercises aimed at establishing a Maritime Search & Rescue (S&R) Response Module which will allow the innovative use of Maritime S&R resources to be integrated into the coordinated response to coastal or tidal flooding resulting from tsunami or massive tidal surge."
I asked what in practical terms what EU Flood Command's role be if the Netherlands, say, were at high risk of flooding? "The Pilot Project would establish a system for the coordination of Maritime S&R assets from the Project Partners - UK, Sweden and Ireland. If there were a flooding disaster in the Netherlands which needed such resources then the Response Module would coordinate the deployment of these assets in support of the response."
The MCA is a Category One Responder under the Civil Contingencies Act and is a partner in the project. The project has also involved experts from the emergency services to take part in its conferences, workshops and exercises. The Civil Contingencies Secretariat of the Cabinet Office sits on the project board as the Competent Authority for civil protection in the UK. The project itself is not a responder agency and therefore does not sit inside any responder structures, however the system put in place by the project will operate within the European Union Civil Protection Mechanism.
Rod Stafford said: "The aim of EU FloodCommand's Conference & Workshop on 9th-10th May is to raise awareness of the risks of tsunami and tidal surges resulting in massive coastal or tidal inundation, and the potential for the integration of Maritime S&R assets into the coordinated response."
Article was provided by Jonathan Rush, Editor, Contingency Today/CT Review and Conference Chair for Civil Contingencies 2011