As thousands of people across Britain fear flooding, many are still reeling from the impact of floods last month. And they are angry at the lack of official support they have received.
Debbie’s home in Salford, Greater Manchester, was flooded on Boxing Day. She told Socialist Worker, “I was supposed to receive a phone call or text to warn if flooding was likely. But the first we knew was when the water starting coming through.
“Agencies talk about how much help they have given us. It’s all lies. I’ve lost everything – and every single agency let us down.”
Residents met with Salford’s mayor and other officials last week. They heard that the mayor knew of the flooding threat at 10.30am on Boxing Day. Debbie said she was “surprised nobody got hit” at the 160-strong meeting.
“Our house was flooded at about 4.30pm-5pm,” she said. “If I’d known it was coming I could have got a lot of stuff out of the way or upstairs.
“The police said they were knocking on doors but nobody came here. We could have been older and vulnerable, but nobody checked to see if we were ok. It’s been a total shambles.”
Flood victims’ lives are still in chaos over a month after the flooding. “We can’t live downstairs because of the state it’s in,” said Debbie. “So we’re just in the bedroom.
“On our estate a lot of people are old. They used to live downstairs in their homes because they found it hard to get upstairs. They are devastated.”
David Cameron appeared in Lancashire wearing wellies yesterday, Thursday, promising to help people affected by floods. But many people are furious at the government.
As Cameron carried out his PR stunt, some 500 pairs of wellies appeared outside the Houses of Parliament containing messages from flood victims. Greenpeace, which staged the event, has found that two thirds of people thought the government had handled the flooding very or fairly badly.
In many areas it is ordinary people who have organised to support victims. Richard Francis set up The Big Cumbrian Christmas Day get together to make sure those affected by floods had a decent Christmas.
Richard told Socialist Worker, “Never in a million years did I dream it would get so big. Come Christmas day we had seven different venues across Cumbria and around 5-6,000 presents.
“We had such an abundance of food that we decided to run a hamper services. Hundreds of volunteers have helped in different ways across the county and we reached several hundred flood victims on the day.”
Debbie said the government should “give more money to help flood victims”. She added, “You’re made to feel like you’re begging by asking for compensation or any help.”
And she said many of those affected are ignored because they aren’t seen as worth helping. “I live on a council estate,” she said.
“People have lived here for 30 years or more and we all know each other. We like it here. But we’re not glamorous enough for the media or anyone else to come here and help us.