In a twist that shocked nobody, Britain has once again been hit with disastrous flooding this Winter. Just like last year… and the year before that…and the year before that. Clearly, a pattern is emerging.
This time, it was Cumbria that suffered, with around 2,500 homes without power today after the rain from Storm Desmond made short work of the county’s flood defences. Homes and businesses have been destroyed, people are dealing with thousands of pounds worth of property damage, and one body has already been found. Lifeboat crews are still rescuing people as I write.
Now that all that’s happened the Prime Minister is treating this as Serious Business; he’s chaired a COBRA meeting and is due to make a Very Sombre Visit to the flooded areas later today – business as usual then.
The flood defences were defended by Floods Minister Rory Stewart (we have a minister for this?) who said they had “slowed down” the flood waters and given people more time to evacuate safely. The 15 feet water level in 2009 was supposedly a once in a century event…until this weekend when the river rose to 17 feet.
So, who’s responsible apart from Mother Nature? Well, Lib Dem Leader Tim Farron was caught in the floods with his family and has been “just saying” that several flood defence projects in the area had been deemed “low priority” and shelved.
The government have cut spending on flood defence schemes since they got in in 2010, with this article from February this year pointing out a £600m shortfall. Apparently, private companies were supposed to fill in the gaps. Did they know this? Would the government have taken flood defence more seriously if this happened in the South?
As climate change continues these incidents are only going to get worse, and flood spending is too important to budget away. An RNLI volunteer participating in rescue work said the flooding was “by far the worst” – will we be hearing the same next year when this happens again?