Floods and Flippancy


Following my last post that included grumbles about rain stopping play, I’m concerned that I might have seemed somewhat flippant in view of the fact that so many people are having a dreadful time due to the flooding.  Tradition has it that us Brits often obsess about the weather, and let’s face it, we have had much to say on the recent rainfall which has been coming down in biblical proportions but flippancy apart, I have to say it’s been quite heartbreaking to see all the devastation that the floods have brought to many communities in the UK and my heart goes out to all the victims of the extreme weather. 

But I also have to say that I’m a bit perturbed by some of the grumblings that I’ve been hearing a lot of lately.  Mutterings such as …”you don’t see other countries coming to our aid.  We’re the first to send them money when they have a disaster but where are they now, for us?”  And these grumblings, I might add, aren’t coming from the flood victims themselves as far as I am aware.  Apart from one or two exploiters and profiteers, the people affected have been absolute stars in their spirited unity with each another and all kudos to them and to the rescue workers.  

Let me be absolutely clear.  I truly sympathise with the UK flood victims in their strife but, as dismal and traumatic as it all must be for them, do you think it’s really fair, or at all relevant, for people to compare the floods of our country to the floods or huge disasters that have occurred in say, Pakistan, Indonesia, India, Sri Lanka?  Is Britain not one of the richest countries in the world?  We have government resources.  We have social benefit systems.  We have home insurance and we have 21st century aid on hand to evacuate where necessary.  UK flood victims get to stay in B&B’s while their homes are being de-flooded and refurbished and while this must be almightily unpleasant for them and know I would hate it, please . . . third world disaster victim’s get to stay in mud-swamped, disease-riddled refugee camps.  I know that many people here have lost everything they own and I feel deeply sorry for them but let’s be honest, the humanitarian impact is not quite so harsh here.  Put it this way . . . I know which country I’d rather be in if I were to lose all my worldly goods.  Some perspective please.

Yes, let’s absolutely help and support the UK flood victims but let’s not be so petty and bloody-minded about our aid to the developing countries.

Also, there’s been a lot of speculation as to just how deeply climate change has been involved in causing these flash floods and if human-induced climate change is indeed to blame for the flooding, then it’s a pretty hard lesson we are learning.  I hope the government is looking and learning too.  It’s long been predicted that global warming will produce extreme weather events: flash floods, changing precipitation patterns, warmer climates, rainfall etc . . . although many people are still saying it’s nothing to do with climate change.  Well, climate change or not, I heard it all today when a friend told me she’d read in The Mail that it has nothing to do with climate change because every time there’s a heat wave in the Mediterrean, we have flash floods here.  Well there’s scientific proof for ya!

The British Red Cross has launched a Flood Appeal for the UK flood victims and donations can be made here.

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9 responses to this post.

  1. It is really awful how Nature has picked on Britain to vent its frustrations, as it has so far also preyed on centre Europe with that heat wave that is killing people by the hundreds.

    You are right, Earthpal, in being able to separate our countries from those where catastrophes are every day’s news and where their welfare is far from being even comparable to the European standards.

    But I also miss an expression of solidarity. Something that ensures the Brits that they are not alone in the world, that they belong in Europe. The EU must have mechanisms to meet these catastrophical situations, as it has for other aspects of the infrastructures in any member country, but the media should have been used in an outstanding way to clearly express what I am sure is the sentiment of the majority of the European people.

    And I am sure this sentiment will be reflected in the necessary help Britain will receive from her European friends.

    Reply

  2. Thanks Jose.

    Yes, I know what you mean about Europe but they haven’t actually abandoned us. The European commission stands ready to help when we request it:

    “The European Commission stands ready to help the UK with the severe flooding the country is experiencing, should the authorities request it. Financial aid in this type of emergencies is available under the Solidarity Fund. The Commission’s Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC), the operative arm of the Community Mechanism for Civil Protection, is closely observing the exceptional weather conditions in the UK and is prepared to facilitate assistance. The civil protection mechanism was also deployed for Hurricane Katrina in the US in 2005 and recently for forest fires in Greece (see more here).”

    http://ec.europa.eu/unitedkingdom/press/frontpage/25072007_en.htm

    Reply

  3. Greece is calling for help as their firemen are exhausted after fighting fires non-stop for 6 weeks.

    The UK could be asking the EU for up to £3billion in aid but hasn’t as yet.

    Teenagers have apparently been going around a putting bleach into emergency water supplies placed in flooded areas for residents to stock up on fresh water. They should be caught, given 20 lashings and then put to work cleaning out the sewage and mud from flooded homes.

    The Flood Observatory has latest flood info from around the world; http://www.dartmouth.edu/~floods/
    Click on the map and you get a table listing all up to date flood info. Bangladesh had a flood at the same time as the UK. Their displaced peoples number 240,000. The UK numbers 1800.

    Reply

  4. Hi Matt. Yes, I meant to say that other parts of Europe are having it bad too. Parts of Italy are also burning. And haven’t there been floods in Germany?

    Thanks for the info link Matty. The UK/Bangladeshi stats illustrate what I’m trying to say about comparing the UK to some other disaster areas. I’m not trying to undermine what the UK victims are going through, i just don’t like all the mean-mindedness. It’s just an excuse to have a go at people of “other cultures” again.

    As for those teenagers, isn’t it amazing what low levels some people are capable of stooping to during a crisis.

    Reply

  5. Thank you for the information, Earthpal.

    Reply

  6. You’re welcome Jose.

    Reply

  7. Wow. I don’t know what to say (since I’m located in the US). My major concern here is that our relatives in Swindon are all right. We do worry a bit when we see pictures on the news with folks trapped on top of their houses. We do remember Katrina. Too much rain anywhere is a problem that should concern us.

    Reply

  8. We’ve been lucky here, although my Sis in Brighton is expecting flash floods soon…..

    Reply

  9. Helen, I hope your relatives haven’t been too hard hit. The rain didn’t stop the nearby WOMAD festical from taking place and it looked like great fun for the kids:

    http://www.thisisswindon.co.uk/news/

    MissyL, yes, and they’ve been “enjoying” a heatwave too, so I hear.

    Reply

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