RESIDENTS in Cullompton are being encouraged to do their bit to protect their homes from future floods in Cullompton.
The Environment Agency hopes to secure funding to improve defences in the town but says locals are better positioned to clear waterways that become blocked with litter and debris.
The scale of flooding last November devastated 30 homes and 22 business in the town and has not been experienced in the South West since the 1960s.
Ian Hooper, from the Environment Agency, said: "Rivermead is seen as one of the main priorities and our intention is to defend that area.
"We are here to listen and help the best we can. We do have staff that go around and clear watercourses but that resource is small.
"We can't guarantee we can get people out here in time and local authorities are in a better position to report incidents and take action to reduce flood risk."
Mr Hooper, at a recent meeting of the town council, said there have been issues with fly tipping that have caused problems in the town and members of the parish authority said some farmers need to take more responsibility to keep streams that pass through their land clear.
He also said debris at the culvert on Exeter Road has exacerbated matters.
Cllr Chris Snow said some watercourses are in a "shocking state" which compounded the flooding at Knightswood and Rivermead last year. Mr Hooper said flood defences will be improved here, but forming a flood wall behind Rivermead is one of the major projects the agency is hoping to fund. Claire Francis, a town councillor and member of the town's Leat Conservancy Board, said a stretch of the leat near Rivermead and the Cullompton Community Association (CCA) Fields needs to be cleared.
"When the leat goes through the mill and around the corner it goes from being wide to quite narrow," she said. "But it is not helped by the rubbish that gets stuck in there, so we need to keep it flowing.
"That is something we need to do and get in there with waders."
The Environment Agency hopes to secure funds to build one of two proposals for defences, which includes flood walls, at Rivermead. Flood-prevention measures are also in the pipeline for other areas, including Langlands Road, but the exact specifications are a work in progress.
Andrew Whitehead, the agency's flood recovery manager for Devon and Cornwall, said his team needed to finalise plans before bidding for a share of more than £3.6m set aside by the Government for flood defence measures in the South West.
Both options for Rivermead include flood walls and raised embankments and road humps, flood boards, and gates are included.