Socialist Worker

Budget cuts and Tory failures are to blame for new floods misery

by Sophie Squire
Issue No. 2739

The Coleham area of Shrewsbury on Monday morning, flooded once again after the River Severn burst its banks

The Coleham area of Shrewsbury on Monday morning, flooded once again after the River Severn burst its banks (Pic: David Smith)


Floods have caused misery across many parts of Britain as hundreds of homes have been severely damaged or destroyed.

And the Environment Agency has said that thousands of flood defences are basically “useless”.

More than one in 20 of Britain’s crucial flood defences were in disrepair in 2019-20, the highest ­proportion in years.

In the regions battered by Storm Christoph last week, this rose to nearly one in ten.

The storm resulted in heavy rainfall that saw rivers burst their banks. In North Yorkshire the average amount of rainfall for January was recorded in just two days.

Flood warnings were, as of Monday, still in place in over 30 locations across Britain.

Evacuated

Thousands of people were evacuated in the Greater Manchester area last Thursday after river levels rose to an alarming height.

In Skewen, South Wales, 80 people were evacuated from their homes on Friday due to a “flooding incident”.

A severe weather warning was issued across the West Midlands on Sunday. And floods closed 14 roads in Nottinghamshire. The river Severn burst its banks at a number of different locations. It flooded many ­riverside homes in Bewdley near Kidderminster.

Flood defences reportedly failed leading to what some residents described as a “tidal wave” of water ­heading towards their homes.

This is the second time in two years that the river has burst its banks.

Bewdley resident Dan Madden said, “I’m gutted to be honest.

“It’s took me years and years to buy a house and I buy one in the town I love and it’s flooded twice in two years.”

Shrewsbury in the West Midlands was also hit hard by the flooding. Shrewsbury resident Lani told Socialist Worker that it was “devastating to see flooding again”.

“People are only just ­recovering from last year’s floods, businesses are still renovating,” she said.

Defences

“You’d expect flood defences to be better after last year but they aren’t.”

Boris Johnson visited the town when it flooded last year. He said that new permanent defences would be put in place.

But Lani said many people saw his visit as a publicity stunt. “We know the flood defence budget has been cut,” she said. “Boris only came here for the pictures.”

People are bracing for yet more flooding as more snow is forecast to fall this week.

Climate change means extreme weather events such as flooding become more common.

And while the Tories ­continue to make empty promises about providing better defences, many people face repeated flood devastation.


Vaccine rollout delayed

The government’s failure to adequately prepare for flooding is leading to delays in distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine.

Snowy weather and flooding has hampered the rollout of the coronavirus vaccine in Derbyshire.

A number of GP practices across the region had to close their doors for vaccination due to adverse weather conditions.

A testing centre in Sheffield was forced to close due to flooding fears after the river Don burst its banks

And in Wrexham, north Wales, emergency teams were called to protect a warehouse filled with the Oxford-AstraZeneca coronavirus vaccine.

Mark Pritchard, leader of Wrexham Council, said flood damage to the warehouse “could have had an impact not just in Wrexham or Wales but across the whole country”.


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