If only it were a movie. Kevin Costner sic-fied up in a block busting tale of global warming, strong arm tactics and life in the future seems like an easy sit through now. By comparison us residents of England lucky enough to live atop a hill, away from a river, the sea or a tidal inlet can watch our own futuristic disaster unfold from our Roche Bobois sofas and La-Z-Boy armchairs. We can top up our glasses of sav blanc and pop out for a quick wee in the ad breaks. We can even flush our loos. Others unfortunately, cannot. Their fridges are floating unfilled. Our flush is their contamination.
While Los Angeles suffers a drought and the Eastern Seaboard struggles under wave after wave of snow and ice, this side of the pond is enduring a mild, wet winter. Put like that it sounds quite beneficent, doesn’t it? Spring is indeed sprung in my Chiltern garden.
But less than twenty miles from my houses, cars, furniture and lives are underwater. The Thames has burst its banks. Wraysbury, Dachet and surrounds are flooded. The fire service is evacuating residents. The army is on standby. People are fighting over sandbags in desperate desire to save their homes. Railway stations are closed. People can’t get to work. Last night people couldn’t get home from work because the mainline out of Paddington had to stop operations. Sewerage is oozing up through floorboards and folks are getting ill.
Some residents believe they have been scapegoated to save the upmarket Eton and Windsor’s gin and Jag brigade. Even if HRH’s castle is on a hill one can’t be too careful can one?
More rain is predicted and with it, more flooding.
It’s hard to believe that there are some in England who have been suffering the same fate for the past two months. I kid you not.
It all began around Christmas Day for many residents of the Somerset Levels. Storms cut their electricity and many were not reconnected for weeks. Then the waters rose. And rose and they are still rising.
Here, on a good day, is a thing of beauty. Farmers farm, ramblers, ramble, the Glastonbury Festival is beamed to millions across the globe and villages are picture postcard perfect.
The Levels is an area of special protection due to plant and birdlife; its biodiversity of international import.
Here’s what it looks like right now:
It’s been this way for months and there is no end in sight.
The Doomsday book records dredging and drainage of this precious region. Then performed regularly by the monasteries governments and environmental agencies have taken over responsibility from the church.
Except they have stopped doing it and look at the result.
Houses ruined, farms bankrupt, livestock destroyed, people dead. There’s even talk of returning it to the sea – just not bothering #TooHard.
The government is playing catch up. They are putting on their wellies both literally and metaphorically way too late. You’d think that with Scotland planning to jump ship soonish, David Cameron would want to preserve every little bit of land he still governs. Instead, he wants to get to work on destroying the Chilterns, another Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, by ploughing upwards of £82 billion into the white elephant otherwise known as the HS2 rail network.
Surely we could put that money to better use. A few ideas above.