Action Call on Floods - Worcester News

The recent floods in our county, worse even than the dreadful floods of 1998, were a devastating blow to hundreds of homeowners and businesses..

There are questions to ask, especially about the Environment Agency's failure to get up the flood barriers in Worcester and Upton-upon-Severn, but there was one really encouraging thing to come out of these floods and that was just how well the emergency and public services dealt with the crisis and its aftermath.

Police, fire and ambulance services all performed a remarkable job with their staff working above and beyond the call of duty to rescue people in danger and then help the clear-up. For example, in Evesham fire crews helped clean off the all-weather tennis courts at the rowing club and refloated boats that had sunk.

The district and county councils did exceptionally well. Look at how quickly riverside areas in Worcester and Evesham were cleaned and put back in good order. And look at how quickly work began on repairing the B4084 at Cropthorne.

During the crisis, scores of staff were at Wychavon's offices doing all they could to minimise the impact of the flood - senior council officers were filling sand bags into the small hours. So good were Wychavon's emergency centres that one grateful stranger who was cared for in one of them wrote to the national press to say thank you and well done.

The government has said all the right things since the floods, but we must keep it to its promises. Last year it cut the Environment Agency's budget to help pay for the mismanagement of the Rural Payments Agency - it must never do that again. And the additional 200m funding for flood defences it's announced won't actually be introduced for 4 years.

Ministers have said that councils won't be out of pocket - so they must help Worcestershire County Council pay for the 5 million plus of damage to our roads.

And the government must not making flooding worse by encouraging building on the flood plain. When John Prescott visited Worcestershire in November 2000 to see the impact of floods in Upton-on-Severn, he rightly said,

"...we should manage the flood plains more effectively and we shouldn't be putting houses on them."

Building in floodplains makes flooding worse by concreting over green fields and, by definition, it makes the people in those homes very vulnerable. As Worcestershire gears up to build thousands more new homes, we should remember that they're called floodplains for a reason!


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