Floods, floods, floods, floods and still more floods – an Act of God, or a Dereliction of Duty by our Governments?

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The Environment Agency continues to issue flood warnings galore (still about a hundred and fifty) for mostly the North West and the North East of England, but now also Southwest and Wales – they come at three different levels Severe (warning of danger to life), Warning (flood expected, so immediate action required), Alert (flooding possible, so be prepared). There have been major floods in large swathes of Cumbria, Lancashire, and the major cities of York, Leeds, and Manchester.

What the heck is going on in this Country with all these unprecedented floods, eh? Well, more than one thing you can be sure of that, can’t you?

Like firstly, not only have we as a Country consistently spent a ‘pittance’ on defending our communities from the elements, but the present Government under the Tories have slashed even that meagre amount over the past five years, so flood capital spending levels were down thirty percent (some two hundred and fifty million pounds no less removed) – false economy surely, when the Government then has had to pump back-in (no pun intended) exceptional funding of some half of that so-called ‘saving’ already in clear-up and emergency support because of the 2013-14 floods, and they no doubt will have to follow that enormous tranche with another substantially bigger one, as a result of this year’s even greater floods, won’t they? But, whatever they are forced to allocate, as a so called special fund, it will in no way cover the true cost of this latest water disaster – it will run into many-many billions of pounds to be paid for by our families, insurers, agencies, local authorities, emergency services, and everyone else (so costs will all dramatically go up).

That financial penalty doesn’t of course take account of all the human suffering involved, including multiple deaths, serious injury, trauma, devastation of lives, incomes lost, colossal damage, homelessness, sewage contamination, communities splintered, livestock and wildlife drowned, jobs lost, business destruction, health factors, mental stress, widespread evacuations, fifty thousand homes and property without power or heating, treasured possessions obliterated, misery & despair, buildings, walls, and bridge collapses, impacts on quality of life, or similar matters, does it?

PM David Cameron has been on a publicity walkabout in the North to commiserate with the washed-out people to pretend that he is upset and gives a damn about their plight (and even trying to justify his capital expenditure withdrawals). He has also had the gall to praise the emergency services, support organisations, troops, Environmental Agency, and councils, who have stepped into the breach to help their communities – when it was his Government that trashed all their budgets. He is lucky though that this is England, because in some other countries his life would be in mortal danger from lynch mobs, don’t you think?

The clear evidence is that we are running with totally inadequate and significantly failed flood defences, brought about by totally crap funding, don’t you think? Pumps, barriers and other equipment has both failed and been left unprotected from the elements, thereby extensively increasing the destructive damage caused of the raging torrents of water. Those with experience and detailed knowledge of water systems fully understand that there has to be adequate funding for maintenance and regular overhauls – no indication of that principle in the UK, is there? The most sickening thing about it all is that those in the know predicted all this mayhem would come to pass (but didn’t know when), and the risks being taken, but no one would heed the dire warnings, would they?

We have long known that global warming was going to increasingly cause climate change and in particular bring water here in volumes that we have never experienced before – but with head in the sand attitude and Mr McCawber faith that ‘something would turn-up’, we have simply ignored it all, and now look surprised and shocked that we are in deep trouble. Somehow we think that sandbags can be our saviour in such times, when in reality they are of sentimental use only and bloody useless as a flood defence, as all but the village idiots well know. Sandbags cannot stop water getting into a property.

Oh yes, once again these extensive flood conditions have been brought-on by major storms and gales bringing record heavy torrential rainfall that has been so devastating in so many villages, towns, and cities across much of the North of England. In some instances more rain has fallen in a couple of days than in a normal month – frequently onto ground already waterlogged or saturated.

Therein lies another major problem, doesn’t it? Land is like a massive sponge that can hold a prodigious volume of water, so that will help to soak up a great deal of rain, don’t you think? Well it does if you don’t put in large scale land drainage systems that dump the excess water from the fields into already swollen streams and rivers that is. So why are farmers not only allowed to put such damaging facilities in place, but are even encouraged to do so by the powers that be? Is there some kind of collective madness about?

Take the nearby example of Holland, where they have invested heavily in sea and flooding defences involving an integrated structure of water management with extensive dam systems & storm surge barriers, which are designed to withstand any abnormal weather event occurring in a thousand years. They have already in place substantial defences but currently spend double each year in simply maintaining their defences than the UK spends in attempting to create a few defences. They are prepared to spend in the order of five billion pounds (we don’t even spend a fifth of that) and employ over fifteen thousand fulltime staff. Apart from flood disaster management protocols, they have protection standards for everything to do with water including legislation, large construction projects, pumping stations, lakes, basins, dykes, drainage systems, management of rainfall, water conscious infrastructure and building design, experts & consultants loaned out, coastal management, assessment processes, spot checks, urban planning, and the like.

Contrast that with Britain where over five million properties are at risk of flooding, and still our authorities allow even extensive urbanisation of flood plains, the population are in the dark with no concept about the dangers of water, so simply buy homes and property that is bound to flood at some stage (they never check and their conveyance lawyers never seem to warn them), small water courses, ditches, streams, estuaries, rivers, and canals, are allowed to become blocked, councils are so strapped for cash that they spend peanuts on water management and allow inadequate and antiquated sewage systems to fall into disrepair, and as well, our planning authorities approve schemes with scant regard to what impact they will have on the flooding risk (provided the roads look OK for traffic they are happy, eh?). We build highways, pave, cover our land with concrete and extensive non-porous surfaces, to create large areas with surface water run-off. Hundreds of years ago we built beach groynes and sea walls (all now allowed to collapse), as coastal defences to protect our cliffs and beaches from the sea, but now the only coastline properly defended is that where we have built a nuclear power station, or the like – the sea will simply be allowed to reclaim the rest, so within a hundred years much of our eastern land will be under sea water.

 

[The worse thing about it all is that nothing is going to improve, we will not learn anything from the Dutch experience, we will continue to spend money on the wrong things, and the Country will be gradually submerged. Only if the people rise up will that change, and we don’t do revolutions in Britain, do we?]

 

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