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article imageThe West Country deluge and the response

By Alexander Baron     Feb 7, 2014 in Environment
Flooding has recently caused devastation in the UK, especially Somerset. The authorities have been severely criticised for the way they handled it.
And are handling it still, because the floods are continuing. Let's be clear about this, there is not much even a well-prepared nation can do about an act of God, but allowing for this and for the extraordinary perhaps unprecedented nature in recent times of the flooding, there are things that could have been done but haven't.
If you were experiencing the extreme conditions shown here, you would probably not be amused to be told your phone call to the Floodline was being charged at up to 41p a minute. The Prime Minister himself has promised to rectify this.
The former Labour MP Chris Smith — who now sits in the Lords — is Chairman of the Environment Agency. Today in Somerset, he was given an angry reception by the locals over the body's failure to dredge the local rivers, Tone and Parrett. At the time of his visit, another 80 or so homes were being evacuated, in the village of Moorland. An extra £10 million of government funding is now being allocated for this dredging, but clearly simply allocating funds is not going to stop the floods. In some places the ground literally cannot take anymore, some people have put down sandbags only to find water coming up through their floorboards.
Earlier this week, a more prestigious visitor to Somerset received a much warmer welcome. Prince Charles turned up at the Somerset Levels by tractor and wearing wellington boots. The Prince is also donating £50,000 to the locals from one of his charities.
While that has certainly raised people's spirits, the prognosis for the immediate future is not good; the Environment Agency website is warning of more heavy rainful and even more flooding, including in other parts of the country.
Clearly as soon as the current mess has been cleaned up, plans will have to be drawn up to to better minimise the effects of such disastrous extreme weather in the future, meaning this time next year, or even sooner.
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