Monday, July 23, 2007

And Then The Waters Came!

Large areas of Southern and Eastern England are under water after some of the heaviest rainfall to hit the UK in half a century. Last Thursday saw an unprecedented "one month's" rain in less than 3 hours, and it has continued to rain since then. Tewkesbury, in Gloucestershire is the meeting point of the River Avon and Severn, and as a result of both rivers bursting their banks, the town is now, effectively, an island.

Unfortunately, although the rain has eased off, both those rivers are fed from Wales, and so there is likely to be a flood surge over the next few days. Emergency services are in full flow, but there are real problems now emerging. The most ironic is a scarcity of drinking water! Large tankers are being brought in to help with the supply, and food is being brought in. The government has agreed to offset 100%, local authority clean-up costs in all emergency areas, which should mean a quicker and more efficient response to need - lets just hope that the insurance companies (which make big fat profits each year) are just as quick.

However, the problems that remain are practical and unsettling for those involved, and will be with them for many months to come. Saturated homes which will take months to dry out; lost crops in the farms, businesses not able to do business and just the general mess and muck something like this brings.

Finally, I hope this will bring about a re-think on planning for weather driven disasters. Building on flood-plains needs to be assessed. Flood-plains existed to allow rivers to burst their banks and let the surrounding ground to soak up the over-flow. Better flood defenses, with more thought going into how water can be channelled away from population centres. Clearly, I'm no expert on these things, but we can't keep allowing our country to drown each time El Nino decides to burp!


Jen said...

I saw this on the news tonight. Hope you're staying dry. Good luck with "emergency services." Hope they are better over there than they are here...

Mark said...

Fortunately, we live in one of the less affected areas, though we have experienced some pretty heavy downpours, moreover, we are at the top of a hill which gives us some protection.

In many ways, we seem to be ok on the emergancy side of things - it will be the response to the more long-term effects that will show whether we are going in the right direction or not.