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York volunteer teams may be set up to fight floods
A NETWORK of volunteer flood-fighters may be set up across York to help the city cope during heavy rain.
City leaders are set to launch a "community resilience" plan in the wake of a winter which saw York hit by major flooding on several occasions.
Many residents had to "fend for themselves" last autumn and winter due to the pressure on council services, but a new report has said communities should now be equpped to cope in times of crisis.
City of York Council has already been given tips by counterparts in East Yorkshire on how schemes could be introduced and run, following similar work there after the 2007 floods.
Initiatives adopted in East Yorkshire have included town and parish councils making their centres available as a base of operations for emergency services and as temporary shelter, while residents have been encouraged to look out for their neighbours, ensure vulnerable people get help during flooding and form local "emergency co-ordination teams".
The York authority's community safety overview and scrutiny committee will this week be asked to recommend to its cabinet that "community emergency plans", similar to the East Yorkshire model, are developed in the city. Groups would be given support in seeking funding and advice from organisations such as North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and Yorkshire Water.
A report by scrutiny officers said "community resilience" had been displayed in York during the severe 2010/11 winter, when pressure on council and emergency services meant many residents had to "fend for themselves". It said that, as well as parish councils, residents associations and Neighbourhood Watch groups could prepare community emergency plans to deal with floods and other crises.
"Asking for the help of community residents is at the heart of community emergency planning, and in most areas it will be possible to find an abundance of skills, resources and equipment which can be used in an emergency," said the report, adding that while specific funding was not available, plans "should not cost a great deal to produce" and the East Yorkshire network had secured financial help from various schemes.
Teams would have "emergency boxes" containing a radio, torches, maps of streets and flood-risk areas and a register of electors. The committee has suggested communities with "insufficient resources" to form their own group could team up with neighbouring areas.