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. http://www.environment-agency.gov.uk/homeandleisure/floods/142151.aspx
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, (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25678757) 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. http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/3d29c8fe-7702-11e3-a253-00144feabdc0.html
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
Location: United Kingdom