February’s main news headlines have focused on Atlantic storms, Ciara and Dennis which have caused chaos across the country due to prolonged high winds and heavy rain. Some areas have experienced 1 months rainfall in 24 hours (up to 150mm) with the inevitable severe flooding causing evacuation of whole communities from their flooded homes. For some this has been their third flooding in 3 years! Residents effected have said “living through a flood is the most appalling experience. Every time it rains your heart beats faster”.The trouble is todays news becomes tomorrows history and little action follows.
Suddenly the Environment Agency are realising that such events can effect mental health for years after an event with an increase in PTSD stress and depression. It is worth noting that our Flood Alleviation Study in 2017 mentioned health risks but the
Grant-Aid funding procedure did not include such a category. Surely this should be
rated highly in any cost/benefit analysis!
Clearly there is a growing problem with climate change and the increased risk of major flooding events and even the current budget of £4bn to 2026,less than 1% of the infrastructure budget,is woefully inadequate. The E/A claim that a spend of £1bn per year for the next 50 years will barely maintain the current level of risk.
Locally January 2020 had significantly higher rainfall than January 2019 and reached our expected monthly average total. With the ground already saturated and February being dominated by strong winds from storms Ciara and Dennis where wind speeds reached up to 60mph it was inevitable that another flooding event would occur on 16.02.20. Previous storms, Atiyah in Dec 2019 and Brendon in Jan 2020 winds only reached 40 mph. As a result February’s rainfall looks set to exceed its monthly average with the possibility of more flooding.
As 1 in 6 homes across the country are now at risk of flooding,excluding the effect of climate change, it is about time the E/A and local Planners refused all applications for building in areas of flood risk. 10% of new homes were built on zone 3 floodplain and in areas like Lincolnshire this figure rises to 100% where they have already experienced 7 floodings in 20 years!
The Government must now realise that flooding is a National emergency and needs to take immediate action to support those currently effected and make a concerted effort to increase funding for prevention schemes capable of dealing with future long term needs.