Craven Winter Weather - Community resilience in Burton-in-Lonsdale

Case Study: Burton in Lonsdale Community Resilience Plan
Project: Craven Winter Weather
March 2015
Rural Action Yorkshire

Knowing what to do when an emergency strikes can be a vital asset for any community, and when your location is rural or isolated, and you are further away from immediate help, having a plan in place can have significant benefits.

This has been demonstrated in Burton-in-Lonsdale, in Craven, North Yorkshire, where volunteers have identified the important role of community resilience and emergency planning in their rural environment.

Andy Ive, the Emergency Planner working with the parish council and part of the parish planning team, is keen for communities to take resilience and planning seriously: “Bad weather or emergencies of any sort are a possibility for any community, especially rural ones. You never know what’s going to happen. Having seen the devastation caused by flooding in Devon and Cumbria, it made us think hard about our own community and mitigating the risks we might face.”

As seen in Devon and other parts of the country, flooding especially can cause widespread turmoil and upheaval for whole villages and towns, as well as heavy reliance on emergency services. If an early response can be made when disaster strikes, a community stands a better chance of pulling through unscathed or with minimal damage, and having an emergency plan in place also helps services such as Fire, Ambulance and Rescue teams to do their work.

Andy says: “Having a list of all of the local farmers, or people with 4x4s, quad bikes, and ploughs, can really help the emergency services to support us quickly and effectively, and can also see us through while we wait for them to reach us.”

Burton-in-Lonsdale are fortunate to have a local reserve of volunteers that they can call upon in times of need, some of whom also volunteer for the Cave Rescue Organisation (CRO) meaning they have a wealth of experience between them. This meant they could produce their emergency plan relatively unaided, and once it was complete, check it with organisations such as North Yorkshire County Council.

“We used a template which I found online, from North Yorkshire County Council’s website, and this helped with the creation of the plan, and also included working emergency phone numbers that we needed to include. I was also able to contact staff there for further advice and support, and they have a copy of our plan. I’m confident that there are resources available if we need them.”

The purpose of an emergency plan is to ensure you are ready for any scenario. The success of the plan in Burton-in-Lonsdale has meant that nearby communities such as Bentham have sought advice from Andy as they explore their own risks. Andy is happy to share the plan with others and liaise with them to offer support.

Communities have identified a potential gap where more support could be provided. This is in the area of putting plans into practice and testing them out, perhaps with a roleplay approach.

“As regards training, as an example, we are not certain how to correctly use sandbags,” says Andy, “though we have a supply of them in our emergency depot. You usually see the emergency services or army doing this for us, but it would be good if we could learn ourselves how you use them and the best places to put them to divert water. We could get a team of people together and learn how to do this as a community so that as many residents know as possible. This could tie in with other exercises we are doing such as river search tests and looking for missing people.”