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Currently showing: Climate/natural disasters > Floods/storms

10 Jan 14 15:00

The British are a stoical bunch, not prone to moaning and groaning when things go wrong – I suppose it's the "keep calm and carry on" thing. And then, of course, they have their indomitable sense of humor which normally helps them through many of life's stressful situations.

But I suspect that even their sang froid is being tried to the limit right now by the flooding that has been affecting vast areas of the country. On January 9 this year, the UK Environment Agency's website registered 288 flood warnings and alerts across England. The Agency's Flood Warning Map provides an especially dramatic impression of the geographic extent of the inundation.

The misery and frustration among the countless communities affected no doubt spring from the increasing frequency of these disasters and the perception that the authorities are not investing enough in flood defences.

According to a BBC report, ( one of the ways the UK is attempting to mitigate the flood problem is through legislation requiring that all new housing developments feature smart drainage systems. These would pipe rainwater from roofs and driveways into specially created fields where it seeps gradually into the earth so reducing the risk of flooding. Conventional drainage systems, on the other hand, pipe rainwater straight into sewers and thence into the rivers which, in the case of torrential rainfall, burst their banks and make flooding even worse.

The additional benefits of natural drainage systems are that the marshy landscapes thus created become precious biotopes with the foliage through which the water flows acting as a bio-filtration unit.

The problem is that developers and local authorities are quarrelling over who should foot the bill for maintaining these drainage landscapes. And this spat is holding up implementation of the legislation known as the Flood & Water Management Act.

The other, potentially more serious, roadblock is the reduction in the Environment Agency workforce recently announced by the UK government.

Some British Members of Parliament say that these cuts could seriously hamper the Agency's ability to respond effectively to future flooding. Let's hope that problems like these can be resolved before the next flood hits.

Category: Climate/natural disasters: Floods/storms

Tags: #NatCat Event.

Location: United Kingdom


Alicia Montoya - 13 Jan 2014, 8:22 a.m.

I really wonder why legislation is so often the roadblock? Sounds like they should get their ducks in a row sooner rather than later, though: According to local news, insurance firms are facing deluge (pun intended, I'm sure) of farm claims:

Gavin Montgomery - 16 Jan 2014, 11:53 a.m.

George Monbiot has a fairly good summary of how well-meaning, centrally planned government interventions on flooding have backfired dramatically here:

Part of the problem is that our understanding of the problem and of all the factors that contribute to flooding is incredibly limited. That's highlighted by this recent article from the New York Times, which illustrates how dramatic flooding risks on some of the most economically important real estate in the world is only now being examined:

It's human nature, I guess, but society still has a very skewed idea of risk and only considers risk factors once they've been realized, often at great cost, rather than investing relatively small amounts of money in ameliorating them.

Gavin Montgomery - 19 Jan 2014, 4:43 p.m.

This article in Farmers Weekly illustrates how flooding is effecting farmers in Somerset - don't miss the link to the video at the very bottom:

Susan Holliday - 14 Feb 2014, 12:17 p.m.

The surprising thing is how long this has gone on for. For many people the floods started before Christmas and are still getting worse. As well as sympathy and mitigation, we need to consider new types of insurance arrangements. These events may focus the mind and I can imagine bodies like the NFU, but also villages and towns coming together to develop new solutions. This is a chance for innovation. How about risk swaps between areas prone to flood and areas with other concerns such as snow or drought? Can we harness the community spirit to develop these types of ideas. Does anyone have any experience or examples of this?

Jess123 - 27 Aug 2015, 10:27 a.m.

Its hard to estimate how huge an impact flooding can have on economic factors of the UK. Its is a huge part of our industry. Here are some statistics on what is produced by UK farming which will provide a better understanding on what is at risk

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