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The power of floods

Still from remote controlled aerial helicopter flight

Still from remote controlled aerial helicopter flight


Floods have tremendous power, you only need to stand by a river in spate or watch waves crash against a sea wall to see that.

However they have another great power, they manage to move Politicians out of Westminster to demonstrate their leadership qualities and empathy with flood victims. They wish to show their understanding of flood dynamics and hydrology and as the blame game will be unpicked over the coming weeks and the floods subside both out in the field and in the media’s mass memories there is one thing to remember – floods are natural, they have occurred throughout the ages and will continue to occur in the future.

Do not get us wrong I am hugely sympathetic for flood victims. I see this first hand working in flood affected communities who are struggling to come to terms with this watery visitor they did not invite into their homes. It is second only to bereavement and burglary I believe in terms of psychological impact to its victims. I come from York where flooding was and still is a major issue for the City. However York and many other historical cities are sited on the rivers as means of trade and water supply and with it came the risk of flooding.

However with modern life comes plaster board walls, fitted carpets, electric fittings and a 101 other things that a flood will quite merrily ruin. This is one of the reasons why flood impact is so much greater than in the recent past when properties could be more easily cleaned and renovated. I am not saying we should all hark back to the past but the cost and impacts of flooding is compounded by our modern way of life.

So what is to be done about it?

There is no easy answer and it will take combined effort and foresight across all levels of government at national and local level not to mention considerable funding and a change in our way of development thinking. The Flood and Water Management Act should be fully enacted and the principles of Water Sensitive Urban Design (WSUD) followed.

It is difficult to design flood alleviation proposals but not impossible as the attached aerial video clip of Shrewsbury shows. It was shot on the 10 February 2014.

Our landscape staff worked with the Environment Agency to deliver a scheme that reduces flood risk to a great part of Shrewsbury but also contributes to the character and appearance of the river front. We are rightfully proud of the scheme.

Here’s an idea, how about for every picture of flooding we have a picture of a successful scheme just to act as a counterbalance?

Mind you bad news always sells better than good!