Numerous warnings had been issued, plans were being implemented, preparations were unfolding as the east coast braced itself for a weather phenomenon that seems to be happening more often. A mixture of super high tides, plus full moon, plus strong gale force north/north-westerly winds were converging to push the seas at the land and cause significant flood risk damage; add winters rain, sleet, hail and snow and all things being as they are, things were rather grotty out there. Sand bags were being filled, flood boards were being screwed into place, police were door knocking advising people to evacuate their properties and where the evacuation centres were. TV crews were everywhere looking for that photogenic story, the housebound nonagenarian and the cute cat being housed upstairs on a warm duvet, the neighbourly community spirit, the over exaggerated precarious deathly risk.
Back in 2013 when similar weather got together there was significant coastal and inland flooding and there were those dramatic images of bungalows falling from the crumbling cliffs into the crashing seas. Then, as yesterday, plans had been implemented but possibly too little too late; the sea enveloped the promenade and cascaded into many seafront businesses and homes, the surge along the river breached the walls turning roads into babbling brooks. In the aftermath there were calls for better protection and better warnings and these were heeded, which was a factor in yesterday’s action.
Thankfully last night the surge was not as high nor as strong as had been predicted, few areas were flooded and there was minimal damage to property. Today’s local papers have a handful of washed up debris shots. It ‘could’ have been far worse.
One thing that did strike me yesterday throughout the days numerous reports and the social media up-dates from plentiful agencies, news sources and groups, there seemed to an edge of complacency that because all the warnings had been issued, that gates and blocks were in place, with the Police, even the Army in presence, alongside Environmental Officers and Coastguard personnel, everything was going to be okay and that joe public did not need to do anything. I’ve not seen any comment or columnists complain that yesterday’s reaction to the potential threat was overboard, but I am sure there will be. It’s a damned either way situation, prepare and its doesn’t happen it’s over reacting, under prepare and have flooding and it’s not doing its job properly.
But I am concerned, the more often these flood preparations are implemented and no significant flooding occurs, the reaction should be “phew, it worked, we are safe” but will more likely be “they always say/do this and nothing ever happens I’m not doing this next time” which really will put people and property in danger.