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Flood warnings to be given by text message, computer or phone
HOPES of saving traditional flood warning sirens in Castle Point have been dashed after Essex County Council announced it would not put them back into use.
Residents across the borough will be sent alerts by text, e-mail and by phone in the event of any potential danger.
Campaigners have been battling to try and save the sirens over fears the new system, operated by the Environment Agency, could put countless people at risk who do not use a computer or have a mobile phone.
Arrangements were already in place for energy companies Calor Gas and Oikos, who have fuel terminals on Canvey, to foot the bill for the running costs.
However, the council has said categorically they will never be reinstalled because they are too outdated.
County councillor Ray Howard, who spearheaded a campaign, said: “I am bitterly disappointed about the news, especially after we had all worked so hard to try and keep the sirens running with the help of Calor Gas and Oikos.”
Mr Howard took a special interest in flood protection after his family home, in North Avenue, Canvey, was flooded during the 1953 North Sea flood disaster, which killed 59 people on the island.
Preparations had also been made to try and get the sirens to be run locally in Canvey fire station, rather than in Chelmsford.
The new Floodline Warning Direct Service will save the Essex County Council £36,000 a year, but council officers deny the move is being driven by efforts to cut costs.
Tracey Chapman, councillor responsible for for highways and transportation, said: “The safety of Essex residents is paramount, and we want to provide the best possible flood warning system available.
“Essex County Council reviewed the usage of the sirens in 2010 as they were coming to the end of their natural life.
“The decision to decommission the sirens was not taken in order to save money, but because of the age and effectiveness of the equipment.”