Viewpoint - 25/01/2021

Fighting against the tide: Responding to a flooding crisis

National Relocation Director, Pierre Craddock, discusses the challenge of relocating flood stricken people in the midst of a global pandemic

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Flooding is no new phenomenon. Very rarely do we face a winter without the news of widespread and damaging flooding appearing on our screens but this year, flooding has occurred in the midst of a record number of UK daily deaths from the Covid-19 pandemic. With more than 5 million people living and working in flood risk areas and 1 in 6 properties being at risk of flooding, the floods of 2021 have created a huge challenge for our relocation team but not one they couldn’t face. 

Our relocation team are located in Southend but cover relocation challenges across the world. From corporate, to social, to emergency relocation challenges, the team have vast experience of relocating people, pets and personal property in response to various crises such as flooding, fire, and other natural hazards. 

In response to the widespread flooding caused by Storm Christophe, we put in place our modular process to assist those people that have been affected by the terrible incidence of flooding to their home, in challenging and unprecedented circumstances. This included three key response areas.

1. Increasing our capacity

In the first instance we ensured that we had the team capacity necessary to support the influx of case volumes on Christmas Eve and through the Christmas and New Year period. The people we help are tired, dejected, dumbfounded, and emotional. Therefore, speed and efficiency are vital. Knowing this, we ensured that funds were available to pay for accommodation upon demand.

Alongside this, we bolstered our team by unifying our response with that of our primary supply chain (Hotels, Serviced Apartments and Holiday let accommodation) and ensuring that hotels that remain open during the third UK Lockdown were accessible as needed. 

We have also increased our Out of Hours teams during the recent period, whilst also ramping up the emergency contact numbers available for customers to contact us. To enable this we boosted IT support, ensuring that remote working assistance was available to our teams over Christmas and weekends in January to maintain vital connectivity for clients and customers alike.

2. Utilising our technology

Speed is everything in crises response; we immediately activated our Swipe N Book hotel booking technology. This allows us to book hotels within minutes of an instruction at the best available rate, ensuring peace of mind for those hit by flooding, as well as, value for money to our clients. Swipe N Book also allows us to secure block bookings, guaranteeing stability for those people flood stricken.

Throughout the pandemic, the importance of virtual communication has been central to people’s wellbeing, when a flood is thrown into that cocktail of crises, effective communication becomes vital in reducing the stress caused to those hit by flooding. 

We rapidly put in place our Flood Buddy system to maintain contact with customers every day to ensure that no one felt alone or abandoned and activated our mass communication SMS technology to ensure contact was maintained with all clients and customers during the flood period.

3. Minimising the risk of infection

In itself a ‘new variant’ to flood crises response, it was critical that we planned to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus when relocating those people affected by flooding to their homes. 

Given that we are all being instructed to stay at home, it was of great importance to make sure that people who were shielding or self-isolating after receiving their Coronavirus vaccine were placed in accommodation that allowed them space to live comfortably.

Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much

Responding to crises is never easy, but by utilising our network and technology, alongside careful consideration of the possible risks of infection, we are able to relocate those people affected quickly to reduce their levels of stress in an unimaginable period of difficulty. 


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