I have listened to many reports and comments, regarding the Somerset Levels, and thought it was probably about time I put my twopenneth in.
On BBC Radio Fivelive yesterday morning, the phone-in (Your Call) focussed on the flooding. Some of the comments had me shouting at the radio, others almost had me in tears. Here are a few of the comments (not word for word):
- They knew it would flood so why live there
- Its not a natural disaster, nobody died
- They don’t need money, or a National fund, should have insurance
- I live in Cheshire, its appalling, if there is donation phone number, I will donate today
- Why are we sending aid to Third World when we need the funds here for this disaster, charity begins at home
- It’s global warming, we should stop carbon emissions, wouldn’t need to dredge then
and so on…
People seemed to fall into two camps, those who saw the disaster for what it is and are sympathetic and those who thought it didn’t concern them, as they live far away from the problem.
The fact is that whether it is global warming, or not is irrelevant, the problem is now. We can talk about dredging the rivers, we didn’t. We can say it is not in our back yard, why should we care…
The point that is being missed, in my opinion, is that it will take a lot of money to repair the damage, when the floods eventually subside and although the residents/victims may have insurance, we will ALL pay. The insurance companies are going to take a big hit on the flood damage across the Country this winter and where are they going to get that money from? It won’t just be the locals of Somerset, whose monthly payments will rise (although I am guessing that residents of the Levels won’t actually be able to afford insurance after this, as the excess will be through the roof, no pun intended), it will be everyone, in order to refund their coffers, the insurance companies will have to recoup their funds from you and me.
To say that it is not a disaster because nobody has died, really. I guess that person hasn’t read and seen the devastation of peoples homes, businesses and animals/livestock. Personally I don’t know how much produce goes to shops and supermarkets nationally, but let us suppose a proportion does. What will that mean for food prices? I think we know…
I applaud the lady, and guy, from Cheshire who wanted to donate, their attitude was just so refreshing.
To the person who asked why they live there, although the Levels have a tendency to flood, normally this can be managed, dredging the rivers and giving them about 40% more capacity, for a start. I would urge that person to visit the area when things are back to normal and to appreciate the countryside and open spaces. I appreciate there are those people who prefer built up areas and can’t see the point, but coming from a large town myself originally, I would not go back to city life.
Whether we divert funds from overseas aid, whether the £100 million that has been pledged by Govt is enough etc. is open to question. I agree with those that are saying we should start to help our own, wherever in our great country they live. It is right that the PM, Prince Charles etc. visit and show solidarity and respect, we would expect no less. What we also need is to learn lessons for the future too and listen to the locals. They asked for dredging and were ignored, just because someone far away thought they knew better. We really should listen to local knowledge. It may not have prevented this disaster totally, but it would have at least alleviated the situation.
If you saw a person, or animal in a river, or the sea drowning, human nature would tell us we should help and not turn our backs and walk away. Somerset levels at the moment has lots of people and animals metaphorically drowning (not literally, I hope), are we now going to help, or walk away?
Here is the Somerset Community Foundation homepage for more details and how to donate, http://www.somersetcf.org.uk and their just giving page http://www.justgiving.com/Somerset-Community-Found-Flood-Appeal at time of writing £123,427.78 raised of £200,000.00 target from 809 donations.
addendum… Donations of provisions etc. can also be given via https://www.facebook.com/groups/FLAGsomerset.