A CAMPAIGN has been launched to help people in Chester-le-Street prepare for the risk of flooding.

The Environment Agency will be working with schools, businesses and communities in the town and surrounding areas to prepare for severe weather during autumn and winter .

Flood community engagement officer Anna Caygill is kick-starting the project by hosting an event called ‘Flooding in a changing climate’ which will look at the impact of changing weather patterns and how this will affect the community.

It takes place on Thursday, October 25, from 11am to 3pm at Cornerstones Community Centre, North Burns.

Ms Caygill said: “We really want people to understand their flood risk and know what steps they can take to ensure they are prepared in the event of a flood, such as making sure they are signed up to receive free flood warnings and having a flood plan which is easy to follow.”

Chester-le-Street has a recent flood history with over 900 properties at risk of flooding from surface water, and from the River Wear and Cong Burn.

Flooding on June 28, 2012, dubbed ‘Thunder Thursday’, caused widespread damage and disruption, but the flood history of the town dates right back as far as the great flood of 1771.

Ms Caygill is building on previous work by Durham County Council’s Civil contingency unit and working with the community to develop a Community Flood Plan and recruit more volunteer Flood Wardens to act as the eyes and ears of the community during flooding.

Meanwhile, a new river channel is being designed to reduce the risk and increasing fish populations in the Cong Burn and River Wear.

Public consultation on the scheme is expected to start in December.

She added: “I’m working closely with Durham County Council and the town’s Flood Wardens to ensure residents in the area are prepared for flooding.

“The engagement complements the flood scheme currently being carried out by the council at the Market Place to reduce flood risk from the Cong Burn, as well as ongoing environmental work being done by Wear Rivers Trust.”

Residents can find out if they live in a flood risk area and sign up to receive free flood warnings by visiting: gov.uk/check-flood-risk