Socialist Worker

Flooding: another disaster as predictable as the weather

by Sian Ruddick
Issue No. 2118

The heavy rains that have hit Britain over recent weeks have led to an utterly predictable disaster – flooding.

For the second year in a row thousands have been forced to flee their houses for temporary shelters, discarding their possessions as if they were rubbish.

This week the River Wansbeck in Morpeth, Northumbria, burst its banks and swamped the high street with two feet of water.

Resident Jessica Leonard is one of many affected. She is angry that so little seems to have been done to prepare for the rains.

“Why isn’t there any organisation? Floods aren’t a new thing, so why weren’t there any plans in place? We even had to buy our own sandbags,” she said.

Some 25 separate reports have warned the government that inadequate spending on river defences and cuts to jobs in councils and the environment agency would lead to more devastation.

And despite clear evidence that global warming will lead to climate chaos in Britain, New Labour remains committed to encouraging more house building in areas that are prone to flooding – like the Thames Gateway development to the east of London.


In the wake of last year’s flooding in Hull, the government promised swift action.

Yet more than a year later many residents are still living in caravans, unable to return home.

With insurance companies either refusing cover or charging prohibitive premiums many thousands of households at risk of flooding have no cover should the worst happen.

Wilbur Roberts from Morpeth is despondent. “It’s just total chaos. Everything in the house is damaged – the television, the three-piece suite.

“I cannot get in my kitchen because the freezer fell against the door, so I don’t know how I’m going to get my medication.”

Meanwhile, the government’s response to those who have lost everything has been a few words of consolation but no action.

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Tue 9 Sep 2008, 18:55 BST
Issue No. 2118
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