Helping Hull Emergency Flood Shelters to Serve Their Communities

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A number of community buildings in Hull are designated Community Emergency Shelters, with a remit to provide essential services to the local community in the case of flood as a shelter or distribution point for supplies and provisions.

The challenge


Living with water logo


Hull has been identified as the region most at risk from flooding after London. As part of their flood planning, Hull City Council have identified a number of community buildings to act as emergency shelters. However, many of these buildings are situated in areas that are vulnerable to flooding, and some could be vulnerable to flooding themselves.

The solution


Dr Sam Ramsden,
Charity Support Co-ordinator


The Flood Innovation Centre’s Charity Support Coordinator, Dr Sam Ramsden met with Hull City Council’s new Living with Water Community Co-ordinator to discuss issues around flood risk to Community Emergency Shelters.

Two shelters – the St Stephen’s Neighbourhood Centre on the Greatfield Estate and the Freedom Centre on Preston Road are situated in areas that flooded in 2007. Both centres are very active in their community and the centre managers had already approached the Flood Innovation Centre for support.

For both centres, the Flood Innovation Centre commissioned a professional flood survey to review the site’s physical vulnerability to flooding and make costed recommendations for improvements.

For both centres, the Flood Innovation Centre commissioned a professional flood survey to review the site’s physical vulnerability to flooding and make costed recommendations for improvements. Dr Ramsden and the Flood Innovation Centre team worked with Hull City Council and the Centre managers, to understand the survey findings and develop a plan for improvements.

The flood surveys and follow-on support to interpret the survey findings are funded by the ERDF as core Flood Innovation Centre activity. This work has been complemented by a further University of Hull bid to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, which provided additional funding to install new flood resilience measures, as identified in the surveys, in order to upgrade the two buildings and ensure they continue to successfully operate as emergency shelters during future flood events.

The SPF funding enabled the team to provide a supply of 30 water pumps and 100 Hydrosacks across the two organisations: the Hydrosacks are much more effective than traditional sandbags in helping to prevent water ingress and the water pumps may be sited in multiple points around the building to remove any water that has gained entry.

To help gain a greater understanding of the role of Sustainable Drainage Solutions (SuDS) in flood resilience, representatives of both organisations attended a Flood Innovation Centre workshop, where they learnt about planting schemes and also toured the University of Hull’s SuDSlab UK facility.

“Hull has vulnerabilities to coastal, river and surface water flooding, which makes flood resilience a key issue for our communities. We’re delighted to be working with the Flood Innovation Centre, to help improve the flood resilience of emergency shelters operated by the charity sector – these are well used and valued spaces in the community – and also to raise awareness of the kinds of measures that can be installed to help protect against flooding.”

Lauren Murtagh
Living with Water Community Co-ordinator
Hull City Council



The immediate impact will be to improve the ability of these two emergency flood shelters to operate successfully in a flood event, thereby improving community flood resilience for local residents.

We are also looking to showcase the project, using it as an example of best practice, to demonstrate the kinds of measures and products that may be installed in order to improve flood resilience and to help grow the regional market.

A full report on the project’s delivery and impacts has been shared internally and forms part of the post-project submission to our funders. It is hoped that the University of Hull will make a further bid to the UK Shared Prosperity Fund, in order to roll-out this flood resilience approach, with the potential for further benefits to community flood resilience, as well as economic benefits to potential contractors.

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