WORK has finally begun on the construction of flood defences in Ryedale - as environment officials urge the country to prepare for the possibility of more flooding this winter.

The first stage of work on Malton and Norton's £4m flood defence scheme has started with investigative hole drilling and testing of the ground at 20 places around the River Derwent in Malton.

However, residents will have to wait a further three months for work to start on the construction of earth embankments, protective steel sheets and reinforced concrete walls.

The Environment Agency said: "We want to ensure that our designs and everything else measures up as we expect it to."

Under the agency's new Flood Awareness Campaign, thousands of householders at risk of flooding will be mailed with information on how to prepare, including:

- Find out if your home is at risk of flooding by calling the floodline

- Check that you are insured

- Prepare a flood plan

- Keep a list of useful emergency telephone numbers

- Make up a flood kit, including a torch, blankets, waterproofs and first aid kit.

Advice and information on how to prepare for flooding is available 24 hours a day by calling the Floodline on 0845 988 1188 or logging on to


Updated: 10:03 Wednesday, October 10, 2001