Sunday, December 06, 2015

Sunday reflection spot - after the storm

There have already been two bad episodes of flooding in the eleven years I have lived in Cumbria but it appears that what has happened over the past 24 hours has been worse than the January 2005 and November 2009 floods put together.

Flood defences put in place after the previous events and designed up to the "once in a hundred years" level were overwhelmed by what appears to have been the most extreme level of rainfall ever recorded in the United Kingdom.

I had initially thought we could be grateful that nobody appeared to have been killed in Cumbria, unlike the 2009 floods when heroic policeman Bill Barker from Egremont gave his life while saving the lives of others by directing them away from an unsafe bridge. However, I now gather that a search is under way in Kendal for an elderly man who may have fallen into the floodwater. I will hope and pray he is found safe and well.

Meanwhile Whitehaven was hit by Force 11 winds but compared with the rest of the county we seem to have got off lightly.

But one thing in common with the previous events is that so many heroes have been working hard to help those affected. I cannot speak to highly of the superb job which has been done by the Emergency services, particularly but not only Cumbria Fire and Rescue, by the Army who have already deployed people to help with disaster relief in Cumbria, council staff at all the main local authorities who have been working through the night, and for community volunteer groups like the Rotary and Keswick Lions who are helping those  affected to pick up the pieces. Thanks for all you have done.

It appears that the flood defences which were put in place held until they were overtopped by record levels of water, thus providing more time for people to be evacuated and reducing the amount of flooding which occurred.

With three major flooding events in Cumbria between 2005 and 2015, I think that when the floodwaters have receded, the damage cleared up, and everyone affected has been helped to pick up the pieces we will need to review what a "once in a hundred years event" is and what level of flood protection our county needs.

However, we need to recognise that there is no certainty in life and no level of protection which will stop everything. Hydraulic action is the most powerful physical force on the surface of the planet Earth, and from time to time we get powerful reminders of that.


Jim said...

I think you said everything about the heroism of the Emergency services, and the general public who were not affected in aiding those who were. RIght the way down to the fact that the flood defenses, which were breached, but bought valuable time and reduced damage.

I just really wanted to aid your post by showing that your claim of 2005 and 2009 combined is no exaggeration, as people can see for theirselves by From this video of Carlisle, taken from a helidrone, at 9am this morning clearly shows.

Anonymous said...

As has been shown in the past 24 hours there is little point trying to contain a flood if the bottlenecks to release the pressure on this this confined water course are not dealt with. The same bottlenecks of 2005 and 2009 produced the same results in 2015. I can hear the excuses from the Environment Agency already - 'that's nothing to do with us, someone elses responsibility'.

Chris Whiteside said...

One of the things we will indeed to do after the waters have receded and the mess has been cleared up is review whether the capacity of rivers and other water courses to get excess water to the sea can be increased. You're right that this needs to be looked at.