The devastating floods in Pakistan, Australia, Brazil and Sri Lanka were stark reminders to us all of how devastating floods can be. People’s homes were literally washed away and in its wake the lives of 1,000s of people were left in tatters. In the UK too, in recent years, we have seen unprecedented levels of rainfall and subsequent flooding.
To mention only the major events:-
Having suffered first hand from the effects of being flooded, I know only too well what an appalling experience it is! Becoming a victim of floodwater ravaging through your home has far reaching and long term consequences for everyone concerned. Flooding is not just when the media and the minister come to visit. To watch, helplessly, as everything you have worked so hard for is being thrown into a skip is hard enough, but to lose precious sentimental items - such as children’s first drawings or photos of relatives who are no longer with us - is completely devastating. Many people have told me of occasions when they have gone to look for something only to remember it having been lost years earlier in a flood when, once again, the pain comes teeming back to haunt them. The misery is further compounded by having to move out of your home into alternative accommodation and to stand by helplessly and watch as your precious home becomes a building site. When this doesn’t go to plan, it can often cause more upset than the actual flood itself!
According to Environment Agency figures over 5 million people live and work in properties that are ‘at risk’ of being flooded. The floods of 2007 highlighted the significant risk we face with surface water flooding. (I have always looked on this type of flooding as the ‘poor relation’ as, despite progress being made, it still remains difficult to predict just where a heavy storm is going to dump itself.) Each flood seems to get worse and to have a more devastating outcome than the one before; yet despite free flood warnings from the Environment Agency, and Local Authorities doing their bit to raise awareness of flood risk, people are still having to leave their homes and possessions behind, or else finding themselves being rescued from upstairs windows. Why? It is essential that we all wake up and ‘smell the floodwater.’ We must plan, prepare, prevent and adapt. Government, too, must remain committed to investing in reducing flood risk and during these times of fiscal restraint they must remain focussed on the bigger picture~ that flooding is quite capable of bringing large parts of our country to its knees.
I have been committed to raising awareness of flood risk for over 10 years now. I am also committed to providing information on how to reduce the risk from flooding (and hopefully maintain insurance cover). It is an uphill struggle, but by working in partnership, it can be done!
© Mary Dhonau