Dr Dan Poulter, MP, was one of many personally affected by the Storm Babet floods. Here, he gives his view on what we need to do to prevent such devastation in the county in the future

Storm Babet resulted in the worst recorded flooding ever experienced by the Central Suffolk area, with widespread damage being caused throughout our county.

I believe the meteorological term for what has occurred is a weather bomb.

There is very little that could have been done to have prepared for the extreme weather, the impact of which was worsened by simultaneously high water levels in our tidal rivers during an unusually high tide. 

Over 500 homes and businesses in the communities in and around Framlingham, Debenham, Wickham Market, Earl Soham and Needham Market have been directly impacted.

East Anglian Daily Times: The Babet weather bomb hit Suffolk hardThe Babet weather bomb hit Suffolk hard (Image: Newsquest)

On a personal note, I was forced to abandon my car to carry family members to safety through the rising flood waters, and to spend the night in temporary accommodation.

My office in Framlingham was waist-deep in water and, together with 12 other people, my mother Carol was stranded in the Framlingham Technology Centre overnight, due to the flood waters.  

 In the midst of the flooding and in the immediate aftermath, we saw the very best of Suffolk, as farmers and other members of our communities came together to help out those in need.

Tractor drivers helped to rescue schoolchildren and thanks to community volunteers, emergency hubs were set up in towns and villages to support those stranded in the floods. 

There are too many people to mention individually, but I would particularly like to thank Rachel Chesman and Nick Corke for all they have done to support people in Framlingham affected by the flooding. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Framlingham was badly hitFramlingham was badly hit (Image: David Owen)

My personal thanks also go to Robert Last and to Keith Crush from Otley who rescued me and drove me and my family to safety and away from the rising flood waters. 

My immediate priority once the floods began to subside, was to spend the next few days visiting as many homes and businesses as I could to personally offer help and support, for example by contacting social services to help a family to put in place emergency care for a disabled older relative living in a flooded home.  

In Parliament, I was able to speak to the right Government ministers and contacted the Prime Minister’s team directly to let him know about the challenges faced by the Suffolk householders and businesses impacted by the flooding.

I raised the issue at Prime Minister’s Questions and am pleased that in the difficult circumstances facing so many in our area, that I have helped to secure a Government flood support package for our local homes and businesses impacted by the flooding. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Dan raised the issue of Suffolk's flooding at PMQsDan raised the issue of Suffolk's flooding at PMQs (Image: PA)

Thanks to my intervention at Prime Minister’s Questions, flooded households in Suffolk will be entitled to claim an immediate £500, with another £5000 available to homeowners to rebuild and recover.

Impacted businesses are entitled to claim an immediate £2500 in financial support.  

Inevitably, attention will now begin to turn to what we could have done better to prepare for the extreme weather.

I was surprised that in many areas of flooding, it was the natural rather than the built environment that proved to be a significant factor in the floods.

For example, in Framlingham, the Mere was the source of much of the excess water that culminated in flooding of parts of the town and in places like Parham, it was sudden water run-off from the fields which resulted in some of the localised flooding. 

East Anglian Daily Times: Cars flooded in FramlinghamCars flooded in Framlingham (Image: Charlotte Bond)

Many of our local towns and villages like Debenham, Framlingham, Needham Market and Wickham Market run alongside, or have tidal rivers that run directly through them.

The extreme weather, combined with a high tide, caused unusual and unprecedented flooding.

In some places, flood mitigation measures were already in place to manage the risk of flooding, and these measures have, previously, been largely successful in protecting homes and businesses.

For example, my office in Framlingham was built over 1.5 metres higher than any previously recorded flood waters in Framlingham as a flood mitigation measure.

However, the - hopefully - once in a century event of last week overcame most of the existing anti-flood measures that were in place in Framlingham, and my office like many other businesses and homes was overcome by the flood waters.  

East Anglian Daily Times: Dan Poulter visiting affected residentsDan Poulter visiting affected residents (Image: Newsquest)

As a result, I do not believe that any amount of planning would have made a significant difference to the flooding that resulted from the extreme and unusual weather of last week which combined with a high tide in our tidal rivers to cause maximum destruction.

Nonetheless, it will now be important for everyone, and, in particular, local council planners to look at what can be done to better prepare for extreme weather events in the future.

 Certainly, the rewilding policies, which have resulted in the reduced clearance of our roadside drains and gullies, have clearly led to increased flooding at times of sudden and unpredictable rainfall and will need to be reassessed. 

As the clean-up and recovery operation continues, there are still many families and businesses in difficulty.

My office team and I will continue to do all that we can to help those in need, and to support our local communities to rebuild and recover. 

Should anyone need to contact me or my office for support and assistance or with help making a claim please email Daniel.Poulter.mp@parliament.uk or call 02072197038.