Get Flood Ready!

The Lancaster team’s latest digital game – Get Flood Ready! – is designed for younger (primary-aged) children. Like Flood Snakes & Ladders, the game takes players on a journey through the experience of flooding and recovery but this game focuses much more on increasing flood awareness and preparedness.

The game can be played individually, in groups of 2-4 or as a whole class.

To access the game or to download an Android version, visit our Flood Snakes & Ladders website.

screenshot of Get Flood Ready! game

Please reference as: Flooding – a social impact archive, Lancaster University

Callum aged 12

This is Callum’s story about what happened to him with some key learning points at the end…

Background

On the evening of 9th February 2014, after days of persistent rain, seven severe flood warnings (the highest category) were put in place for the River Thames in north Surrey. Residents were evacuated and roads and schools were closed. The Staines area experienced clusters of events involving tidal, river, rainfall and groundwater flooding. These four stories, taken from our ‘Children, Young People and Flooding: Recovery and Resilience’ project, show how flooding can reveal, and even exacerbate, existing social vulnerabilities.

Callum, aged 12, lives with his parents in a council flat. He told us: ‘We live on the ground floor…. We lost everything’ in the flood. On the day of the flood, the family watched the floodwaters rising and then went to bed. The next morning he said his dad:

 …opened the door to see what was happening and there was all this water sort of coming down …  Then we stayed for a little bit, then it went up more, and then it went to the top step and Dad said, ‘We need to go now. When I say now, I mean now.’

Callum and Ben’s model of their flooded street

The family evacuated to his grandparents’ house, which Callum thought was a better option than the one offered to children who had no relatives living locally and who were forced to move into distant rented accommodation – some families with children were relocated to such unfamiliar spaces as an army barracks and airport hotels. But living with relatives turned out to be problematic for Callum in various ways.

He had difficulty sleeping at his grandparents’ home in a tiny room amongst all of the packing cases and plastic bags that were stacked up to the ceiling full of his family’s belongings.

(Transcript of sound bite)

Added to this, Callum was not used to going to school on the bus. Living locally, he had always walked. The new bus journey was totally strange to him: ‘I got sort of upset in school sometimes, because like I just couldn’t stand going on the bus’. He found the journey very stressful and claustrophobic – ‘I was like I can’t do this..this is so sweaty’ and he was sweating into his clothes which made him very uncomfortable and self-conscious.

Callum needed £1.25 for each bus journey i.e. £2.50 per day. The family didn’t receive a bus pass to help with the immediate costs of this and so Callum was very much responsible for paying the fare and keeping the money safe for the return journey. This was new and stressful for him. He told us he didn’t know if the family ever received a refund for these extra costs.

A house with a full skip outside, on the driveway

Photo taken by one of the participants from the Children, Young people and Flooding Project

Callum returned home eight months after the flood to a road that he described as a ‘ghost town’ – they were one of the first families to return. But the road was full of potholes and needed repairing. Callum got very angry when he saw the workmen who he described as ‘ard’ chucking stuff down the drains: ‘They were just like laying around’ giving the impression ‘oh I can’t be bothered’.

 

Callum’s experience demonstrates the need for more flood awareness at school and from the Local Authority. What Callum needed was a member of staff at school to find out how he was coping with the unfamiliar journey to and from school and then to team him up with someone who could show him the ropes. His parents needed to know insurers were aware of these extra travel costs and would provide the funds up front or negotiate a bus pass (resulting in less stress and stigma) and that he needed to get back to his own home asap. Callum would also benefit from knowing that the councils can help by making it an offence to empty rubbish into drains, causing blockages.

3D model of a blocked drain made from clay, blue tissue paper and wool

Blocked drain, crafted by a young participant, Children, Young People and Flooding Project

Key Points

  • Hurried evacuation results in severe stress
  • Living on the ground floor results in extra limitations
  • Living in cramped conditions for nine months undermines health and wellbeing
  • New journey to school is expensive and creates hardship
  • Strangeness of new journey to school creates uncertainty and feelings of panic
  • Blocked drains stopping the flood water from flowing away causes anxiety
  • Lack of care in society by others who ‘don’t get it

Please reference as: Flooding – a social impact archive, Lancaster University

Andrew aged 15

This is Andrew’s story about what happened to him, with some key learning points at the end…

Background

On the evening of 9th February 2014, after days of persistent rain, seven severe flood warnings (the highest category) were put in place for the River Thames in north Surrey. Residents were evacuated and roads and schools were closed. The Staines area experienced clusters of events involving tidal, river, rainfall and groundwater flooding. These four stories, taken from our ‘Children, Young People and Flooding: Recovery and Resilience’ project, show how flooding can reveal, and even exacerbate, existing social vulnerabilities.

Andrew, aged 15, lives in a house with his mum, dad and older brother. Evacuated from their home by the military, Andrew was most concerned about his pet lizard – trying to keep her warm.

(Transcript for sound bite)

He spent the first night at his ‘nan’s’. Then he moved with the rest of his family to his aunt’s for three days, but she had a newborn baby and it wasn’t convenient for the family to stay there any longer, so they then moved into a hotel.

After the evacuation the family returned to their home to check on the damage:

We saw the water in the house… It wasn’t a lot, it was just about maybe three, four inches, but it can still do a lot of damage. You still have to do one metre up from that, so it creates a lot of damage. Yeah, not good.

a full skip and a heap of sandbags outside a house

Photo taken by one of the participants from the Children, Young People and Flooding Project

 

Andrew told us that sandbags would not have stopped the groundwater from coming up through the floorboards: ‘sandbags won’t stop that’. Andrew also told us that he felt that his local community was ‘splintering apart’, which he said was ‘disappointing to see’ after the council had distributed the sandbags:

 

 

We had to fight for them. There was a lot of people who wanted them, just taking more than they needed and they weren’t sharing it out. I think everybody was for themselves .… When I moved out, you know, it was just us, it’s just, you’ve got your family and that’s it. Nobody helps you.

Living in the hotel was difficult – Andrew had to share a small room with his older brother which he said was ‘not much fun’. He discovered that hotel living disrupts your day-to-day life and there’s a feeling of lost independence: ‘you couldn’t even get your own cereal – like, you want to do those everyday things’. The conditions in the hotel affected him and he empathised with other people who had been evacuated and were trying to get on with their lives whilst negotiating with their insurers:

There’s people on my road who are still not in their houses…Yeah, that’s not good at all – still living in hotels – and they’ve got like whole families going to work and going to school and you can’t cope with it’. 

Andrew also told us that the disruption affected his studies because he couldn’t access crucial GCSE documents online:

So it really affected, like people had to go on line and get their like… their work off of there. But I couldn’t because I’m in a hotel, I’ve got no Wi-Fi. The hotel’s Wi-Fi was absolutely terrible, you couldn’t do anything, and this was when we were choosing options. I couldn’t even like fill out that form because it was online. I couldn’t print it out.

Andrew ended up living in the hotel until the end of March (about 6 weeks). The family then went to live in a rented house until the repairs were completed on their home. They returned home in November 2015, after 21 months away.

Andrew’s story shows how displacement impacts on day-to-day life, education, people’s sense of independence and understanding of what it means to be flooded.  Interestingly, it challenges the common claim that disaster brings people together. We see that tensions within the community can be heightened by creating a feeling of injustice if groups within the community are perceived to be treated differently.

Key Points

  • Groundwater flooding takes the family by surprise
  • Shows how flood experience leads to important new knowledge
  • Living in a hotel results in loss of independence
  • Living on a day-to-day basis in a hotel is expensive
  • Being flooded affects your education

Please reference as: Flooding – a social impact archive, Lancaster University

Flood Suitcase

Flood Recovery

two painted cardboard suitcases

Designing the Flood Suitcase

The Flood Suitcase is a workshop programme designed to support flood-affected children and young people and build more resilient schools and communities. The programme was developed from the creative methods used during the Children, Young People and Flooding Project and are designed to support children to talk about their experiences of flooding in a safe space.

Lancaster researchers piloted the Flood Suitcase programme with children and parents in Cumbria affected by the flooding caused by Storm Desmond in December 2015. A group of 18 primary school children and five parents took part in two creative workshops during the 2016 summer term. The group walked and took photos around the local flood-affected area and the workshops drew on drama games and exercises, sandplay and 3D modelling to help the children tell their story of the floods and share their experiences with others.

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At the end of the workshops, the group was given its own ‘Flood Suitcase’ to keep in school, which the children had co-designed. This suitcase is a place to store photographs and other items which evoke memories of the flood and the recovery process. It also provides a focus for discussing flooding in school and opening a dialogue about community flood awareness and resilience building.

The Flood Suitcase pilot project ended with evaluation sessions with the children, parents and staff. A number of the children talked about how the workshops had been both fun and helpful and they had lots of ideas about how to continue using the school’s Flood Suitcase!

Following this pilot, the research team ran the Flood Suitcase project in 2017 at St. Michael’s on Wyre C.E. Primary School in Lancashire and wrote a short case study about this. During both projects, the team worked alongside staff from the children’s charity, Barnardo’s, training them in the use of the Flood Suitcase.

colage of resources including book Memories o the Flood, photographs and the Flood Suitcase

Some of the resources the children saved in their school Flood Suitcase

 

Barnardo’s have since run the Flood Suitcase programme successfully in three primary schools in Cumbria. The children who took part in this work with Barnardo’s reported that the project had helped them to better understand flooding and what action to take when there is the risk of a flood. Many said how much they had enjoyed the work and that they wanted to learn more about flooding.

The workshop facilitator’s Flood Suitcase

If you are interested in the Flood Suitcase workshop programme for your school or youth group, please contact us at:

floodarchive@lancaster.ac.uk

 

Please reference as: Flooding – a social impact archive, Lancaster University

Useful Links

Lancaster University research into the social effects of flooding:

Hull Floods Project (2007-2009). Officially known as: Flood, Vulnerability and Urban Resilience: A real-time study of local recovery following the floods of June 2007 in Hull

Hull Children’s Flood Project (2007-2011). Officially known as: Children, Flood and Urban Resilience: Understanding children and young people’s experience and agency in the flood recovery process

Children, Young People and Flooding: Recovery and Resilience (2014-2016)

CUIDAR: Cultures of Disaster Resilience among Children and Young People (2015-2018). European wide project, aiming to enhance the resilience of children, young people and urban societies to disasters and enable disaster responders to meet children and young people’s needs more effectively.

Flood education resources:

The Lancaster Children, Young People and Flooding project website features an extensive range of educational resources for teachers, families and flood risk authorities connected to flood preparation, awareness raising and resilience building.

External links and innovative approaches to ‘flooding and society’: