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NEWS | ada gazette SPRING 2014 Flooding timeline: October '13 – February '14 TIM VICKERS, SAM EDWARDS


2013


OCTOBER 27-28 October: St Jude’s Storm Storm across parts of northern Europe, killing four people in Britain and leading to 625,000 homes losing power, with many fl ights and rail journeys cancelled. The south of England reached top wind speed of 99 mph (Isle of Wight).


DECEMBER 5-6 December: Tidal Surge East of England experienced the most severe tidal surge in 60 years with the Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suff olk, Essex and Kent coast most aff ected. The Environment Agency reported a total of 1,400 fl ooded properties, with 18,000 people evacuated and 64 severe fl ooding warnings issued. NFU reported 2,000ha of farmland was fl ooded (over 1,000ha of which was around the Humber Estuary and River Ouse).


Jubilee Bank breach Dec 6 2013 (Andy Carrott )


2014


JANUARY 1-10 January: More coastal fl ooding Strong winds, a storm surge and high tides combined to cause fl ooding to communities across Cornwall, Devon and Somerset. Communities already aff ected by the December storms experienced further disruption. On January 6, three severe fl ood warnings


were in place for Dorset. Elsewhere, communities in Oxfordshire, south Wiltshire, Hampshire and along the River Thames were urged to remain prepared for more fl ooding. The Thames Barrier was closed on 13 consecutive tides between 2-8 of January to protect people and property along the Thames. A total of 109 fl ood warnings and 200 fl ood alerts were issued. Natural Resources Wales issued warnings to communities along the coastline of Wales. Additional pumps were deployed on the


Somerset Levels and Moors with the ongoing risk of fl ooding from the River Parrett . An estimated 570 properties were fl ooded between 1-10 January.


The Environment Agency sent over 160,000


warnings to homes and businesses. Over 2,800 kilometres of fl oodwalls, banks and other fl ood risk management assets along the English coast and estuaries have protected more than 800,000 properties from fl ooding.


23-31 December: Further storms The south-west of England experienced further storms which caused power outages, road closures and widespread travel disruption. Water levels were reported to be ‘exceptionally high’. Reports of extreme fl ooding on the Somerset Levels were issued by the Environment Agency. The Local Government Association urged local residents to stay alert in case of an evacuation.


DECEMBER OVERVIEW • Most severe storm since 1969 • Maximum wind speed of 142mph (recorded at Aonach Mor, Scottish Highlands)


• UK received 184.7mm of rain – sixth wettest UK December since records began


• Wettest Scottish December on record – average of 296.1mm


8


“ “


I am really sorry that we took the advice [of the Environment Agency]… we thought we were dealing with experts. (09/02/2014)


It is entirely wrong to suggest for one moment that I have issued even the slightest criticism of the Environment Agency's marvellous work force. My admiration for the Environment Agency exceeds no one... (10/02/2014)


27-30 January: Somerset declared a “major incident” By 27 January, the media focus was fi rmly on the Somerset Levels which had become a crisis area. 62 pumps were in operation 24 hours a day, to drain an estimated 1.5 million tonnes of water – the biggest pumping operation ever undertaken in the county. Prior to 27 January, 40 properties had been fl ooded on the Levels.


“ “


” Eric Pickles MP ”


Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government


11-17 January: Severe fl ooding The estimate of fl ooded homes increased to 650 by 14 January. Areas of Dorset, Wiltshire, Somerset and the Thames Valley remained at high risk. However, extreme conditions did temporarily ease in certain locations which allowed the Environment Agency to scale back to their normal standby arrangements although 29 fl ood warnings were still in place by 17 January. In the south-east alone there were 13 fl ood warnings and 84 alerts. On 16 January, Hampshire, Surrey, Sussex


and Kent received 20-40mm of rainfall over night. Environment Agency teams worked through the night to ensure watercourses were kept clear and a team operated surface water pumps at Gatwick airport to alleviate fl ooding.


...my staff in the Environment Agency... know a hundred times more about fl ood risk management than any politician ever does...


The Environment Agency is bound by the rules laid down by government so when someone says they are bound by the advice laid down by the Environment Agency what they are actually doing was following the Treasury rules that are laid down setting out how much we can spend and now much we cannot spend on any individual fl ood defence scheme.


Lord Chris Smith


” ”


Environment Agency, Chairman The Environment Secretary Owen Paterson


visited the Somerset Levels on 27 January. His visit prompted an angry reaction from landowners who strongly criticised the decisions not to dredge the rivers in previous years. Owen Paterson announced that a plan


would be drawn up within six weeks to deal with the fl ooded Somerset Levels.


Gibraltar Point nature reserve (Jim Blaylock)


Villages on the Somerset Levels had been


under water for weeks; Muchelney had been cut off for a whole month due to fl ooded roads. By 28 January, about 11,500 hectares of the Somerset Levels were inundated by about 65 million cubic metres of water. Prime Minister David Cameron announced


rivers in Somerset would be dredged once all fl oodwater had been drained from the Levels and the river banks were declared safe.


(Phil Brewin)


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