Monday, 8 September 2008

Anger, blame and fault

People are feeling angry about the flood - it's a natural reaction, and some of that anger will get directed at the councils or the Environment Agency or whoever. But I don't think it is meant - people just need an outlet - so it would be unwise for the councils etc to start feeling defensive or try to argue the point. It is too early to be rational.

As I understand it, the approach being followed will be to keep information flowing - about what has been done, what is going to be done next and giving indicative timescales.

It's also too early to determine what went wrong and what went right. The 'lessons learned' bit comes later - but we do need to collect evidence. And since everyone is bursting with their 'flood stories' (plus photos and videos) - I think it'd be a great idea to start collecting and recording them. Then later - we'll have a broad picture of what happened from lots of different angles.

Meanwhile - I don't think it was helpful for John Healey, the Minister who visited Morpeth to start talking about the refusal of the Env Agency's flood defence proposal a couple of years back. It's almost as if he is trying to blame the people of High Stanners for being flooded out.

What actually happened - as I recall - was that the Env Agency were just talking about flood defence in Morpeth Town, and a 3m bund along the river at High Stanners. The Green Party (led by then Town Councillor Geoff Parkin - a hydrogeologist by trade) argued for a more comprehensive scheme of flood protection and flood prevention - including upstream holding ponds etc. And with a public perception that a bund would destroy the character of High Stanners - the Env Agency withdrew their proposals.
And as a matter of interest - their new Wansbeck catchment strategy sets out a far more comprehensive approach including both preventative and protective measures as the Green Party argued for last time. I hope they'll accelerate their detailed proposals for Morpeth now.

And - for the record - I gather that the 'hundred year flood' we experienced over the weekend would have overtopped a 3m bund on High Stanners even if it had been built.

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