The flooding arising from Storm Babet affected parts of Suffolk really badly. Last Friday, as I was driving to Leiston for the open day of the new wellbeing hub, the impact of the intense rainfall was self-evident as cars were turning round or driving carefully through the floodwater.

It took me well over an hour to get back to the A12 from Leiston, a journey that normally takes 10 minutes. As like many others, I weaved the country lanes avoiding the unpassable stretches where others were already and admired the quick thinking of people paddling in a canoe out of the community allotments to reach safety.

Schools were closing early, farmers were out helping pull cars out of the flood and the community came together to help each other, reinforced by the super response from our emergency services, the County Council and the Local Resilience Forum, as well as the teachers who looked after children who were struggling to get home.

Particular credit goes to Belle Coaches who did manage to eventually get through and safely get children home.

East Anglian Daily Times: Suffolk Coastal MP Therese CoffeySuffolk Coastal MP Therese Coffey (Image: Charlotte Bond)

Elsewhere in Suffolk, the EADT and other news outlets started reporting the impact. I know that the impact of flooding can be devastating. The huge surge a decade ago meant people were out of their homes for months.

Cars being written off can just bring daily life to a grinding halt, even if just a short time. I know that from personal experience and how the kindness of complete strangers shines through.

Just one MP from Suffolk, Jo Churchill, has contacted me in the last week regarding floods. Jo called last Friday and I was able to help mobilise the Environment Agency to allow farmers to legally pump water to help alleviate the floods in West Suffolk.

I spoke to the local Environment Agency on Friday night to check in on this, the situation in Suffolk and to give them my thanks. In my role as cabinet minister considering the impact across the country, I was also liaising with other MPs and officials, particularly focusing on those areas with severe flood warnings being issued – where attempts are made to evacuate people from their homes with the risk of loss of life.  

I spoke with the Chief Executive of the Environment Agency on Saturday and met him again on Monday morning to assess what had happened and consider future risks, recognising that spring tides were due in parts of the country that had already suffered substantial rain.

That was the case for Nottinghamshire and South Yorkshire, as in both cases, the risk of further flooding during the week was considered possible, unlike in Suffolk.

I was invited to visit Nottinghamshire by a local MP and I combined that with seeing the work also underway in South Yorkshire to prevent further flooding in that area over the last week.

East Anglian Daily Times: Flooding in Needham Market from Storm BabetFlooding in Needham Market from Storm Babet (Image: Charlotte Bond)

Frustratingly, a journalist from this newspaper has written critical and, importantly, inaccurate articles about my response to the flooding.

Despite their assertions, I was certainly in my constituency last Friday and was actively working to fix issues in the county and across the country. I know the journalist tried to contact my department and didn’t receive a response from the press office but he has had my personal mobile phone number for the last 13 years and did not try to contact me directly.

In fact, the last time he contacted me directly was a year ago, so I was very disappointed by the articles and I thank the Editor for allowing me to write in the paper today.  

After any incident such as Storm Babet, we look at what actions were taken, based on the forecasts and intelligence we had, so we can look at learnings for the future.

The Met Office issued Yellow and Amber weather alerts for Suffolk, the East Midlands and parts of Northern England last Friday, when clearly, they should have been issuing Red. Some areas had more rain in a day than they normally get in a month.

The Met Office will be reviewing how to improve their forecasting. I have also asked the Environment Agency to review the trigger levels for issuing flood alerts and our resilience for the future given such exceptional rainfall.

East Anglian Daily Times: Residents brave the rain in Storm BabetResidents brave the rain in Storm Babet (Image: Charlotte Bond)

This week, I have also been working on developing a compensation scheme to provide financial assistance to households and businesses. This will include a £500 grant to help with immediate costs, additional council tax discounts to households and rates relief to local businesses.

Eligible flood-hit property owners will also be able to apply for up to £5,000 to help make their homes and businesses more resilient to future flooding via the Property Flood Resilience Repair Grant Scheme. Details of how to apply will be released very soon.

Having already invested £2.6billion to better protect over 300,000 homes between 2015 and 2021, with many homes and businesses receiving support for their property and also benefiting from the Flood Re insurance scheme this government created, we are also investing a record £5.2 billion by 2027 in flood and coastal erosion schemes to better protect hundreds of thousands more properties across the country, recognising the threat from climate change and sea level rise.

Finally, I do encourage people to sign up to flood alerts for the future and get advice on what to do before and during a flood"