Monday, 23 July 2007

After the flood

So now were in one of the worst flood situations for years, with many homeless and 150,000 people in the country without water supplies. And the government that promised ‘no spin’ has been saying how well everything is going.

The environment secretary Hilary Benn said "unprecedented" levels of rainfall were responsible for people becoming stranded and homes wrecked; and not the failure of the country's flood defences. ‘This was very, very intense rainfall, when you've got 5in in 24 hours, even some of the best defences are going to be overwhelmed.’ When quizzed on why in certain areas flood defences were deployed late or not at all, he said: "Even if those defences had been put in place, they would have been overtopped because of the intensity of the rainfall."

So the inaction of this government is not to blame, as anything they could have done would have been too little? But that sort of argument just sounds like an excuse for no one to do anything. We’ve seen an unprecedented paving over and building over what had been land where water could seep into the ground, so now all that water overwhelms storm drains. While gardens can soak up rain, paving, tarmac and concrete are less porous and increase the amount of rainwater that runs off by as much as 50 per cent. This additional water usually flows into street drains, which can’t always cope with the thousands of extra litres in a storm.

The Royal Horticultural Society has advice on how to use your front garden for parking without adding to flooding, a common problem in these days of too many cars with not enough parking spaces. In London 12 square miles of front gardens are now under paving, this is the equivalent to 22 Hyde Parks. Where paving is needed, try permeable materials that allow rain water to soak through. Basically use permeable materials like gravel. See their website for more information.

The main opposition parties are talking about reduced funding for the environment agency being to blame, but they dont have enough power even if they had funding. It would be a drop in the ocean, when what is needed is a few sharks.

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