Flooding at Dumfries & Galloway College

  • Communities across the UK, including schools and colleges, were hit by a series of devastating winter storms
  • We look at how one customer, Dumfries and Galloway College, quickly got back on its feet after a winter flood
  • Find out why schools and colleges should prepare for similar potential crises

As devastating storms hit parts of Britain last winter, it wasn’t just homes and businesses that were affected – many schools and colleges also faced serious disruption.

The priority was to get the college in a condition where the students could come back in as soon as possible, and the vast majority were back to lessons by Monday

Kirsty Forsyth, Risk and Insurance Consultant, Zurich Municipal

Our customer, Dumfries and Galloway College, was one such victim, facing significant disturbance after a major flooding incident on the morning of Wednesday, 27 January.

The higher and further educational college sits in a rural location, and huge amounts of water had poured off the saturated surrounding fields into classrooms, workshops, kitchens and changing rooms. The college car park was also submerged by floodwater.

The college quickly decided to close the building and evacuate those already on site, before alerting staff, students and other stakeholders to the situation via texts and social media.

Despite the massive volume of water covering the school grounds, within just a few days, the overwhelming majority of students returned to lessons.

The value of a rapid response

So, how was the college able to re-open its doors so quickly? Kirsty Forsyth, Risk and Insurance Consultant, Zurich Municipal, explains how events unfolded.

“I received a call from the college at 11am to say water was pouring into the building. I knew that one of our loss adjusters, Peter Farrelly of vrs Vericlaim, was in Cumbria seeing another customer who had been affected by flooding, and we asked if he could head over to the college,” she explains.

“Peter arrived by 2pm and after assessing the situation, contacted Rainbow International, a specialist cleaning and drying-out contractor that we use quite regularly.

“Rainbow was on site the next day and worked through the weekend. The priority was to get the college in a condition where the students could come back in as soon as possible and the college could resume their business.  To the college’s relief the vast majority of students were back to lessons by the following Monday, with all students back one further week later.

“The college was delighted with the response from Zurich Municipal and vrs Vericlaim. It couldn’t believe how quickly we were able to get the business back on its feet.”

Helen Pedley, Director of Organisational Development and Facilities at Dumfries and Galloway College, described the services provided by Zurich Municipal – from the calm and reassuring approach of the loss adjuster to the support of a professional cleaning team – as “gold standard”.

Err on the side of caution

She urged schools and colleges that might find themselves caught up in a similar situation: “Err on the side of caution and act quickly to close the affected area/building.

“Give yourself time and space to fully assess the situation and any unintended consequences resulting from the event.”

She said the college would be paying closer attention to flooding – previously seen as a low risk – when it reviews its Contingency and Disaster Management Procedure.

Why schools and colleges need expert support

The incident highlights the value of communication through the claims process, and the importance of having access to an expert support network when a crisis occurs.

Peter Farrelly adds: “One of the real challenges customers can face is getting hold of the right support – because if you are experiencing severe flooding, the chances are that many other people are too.

“While incidents of major loss in the education sector are rare, this incident is a reminder that events such as severe floods can and do happen and you need to be prepared.

“It’s important you have access to a network of expertise, made up of people who know what to do in the event of a major loss.

“In this example, if our customer had dealt with the aftermath of this incident alone, the outcome could have been very different.”

Find out more and access helpful guides and insight with our new Flood Risk Resource.