On 18th July 2017, a major flood event hit Coverack on the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall.
Heavy rainfall started falling at around 3pm on the Tuesday afternoon. The storm failed to move eastwards as expected and dumped an unusually large amount of water on the village and surrounding area. In 2.5 hours, 105 mm of rain fell, compared to the usual July average of 62mm. This flowed down towards the village, sweeping rocks and large boulders with it.
Water swept down the main road into the village, inundating houses and businesses, before plummeting into the harbour below. A ‘major incident’ was declared as Coastguard helicopters were dispatched to the scene to airlift residents to safety.
50 properties were damaged as well as the main road into the village.
It has not been long since floods last hit the headlines in the UK. Last time it was Cumbria that was hit by torrential rains and swollen riversas a result of Storm Desmond. Now, less than a month later, Yorkshire and Lancashire have been hit over the Christmas period.
December saw record breaking figures recorded by Met Office observing stations. Just under a months worth of rain fell in some places in a 24 hour period meaning that already saturated ground was unable to cope. This led to widespread flooding in villages and towns around York, Leeds and Manchester. Police in West Yorkshire stated that it was the worst flooding experienced in 70 years.
In York, the River Ouse was 5.1 metres above normal summer river levels around the Christmas period.
Over 500 soldiers were sent into areas worst affected by flooding as 27 severe flood warnings were in place, meaning “danger to life”. Thousands of homes were left without power in the Greater Manchester area, whilst over 2000 people were evacuated from homes in York and hundreds from properties in Salford as rivers burst their banks.
Many were left hoping that the damage caused to their homes will be covered by their insurance. However,the small print in some policiesmay leave some with a nasty surprise
The future – reducing the risks?
After the immediate danger had passed and people began the clear-up, many were again asking what can be done to mitigate against such events in the future? There are many examples of flood gates, walls andother methods that have been put in place after previous flood events. Although some of these served to reduce the impacts this time around, many have not and may not do so in the future.
For years, many have called into question the decision to continue allowing permission for new housing to be built on floodplains. A recent Greenpeace investigation claimed that even now, the government has still earmarked flood risk areas for the building of 9000 new homes as part of it’s fast track home building programme.
Furthermore, in a recent article published on the 9th December it is claimed by The Committee on Climate Change (CCC), that in August it warned the government that it needed to take action in relation to the number of homes at risk from future flood events. In October 2015 the government rejected this stating that a “….. strategy to address future residual risk would not be appropriate at this time.”
Do we need a Dutch-style delta plan to mitigate against future floods? After the storms and devastating floods that hit the Netherlands in 1953, huge investment has taken place in the country to prevent a future event. The centre piece is the ‘Delta Works Programme’.
Thousands of people in Northern England and Southern Scotland were forced to leave their homes on the 5th and 6th of December 2015, when Storm Desmond dumped an unusually large amount of rain on already saturated ground, causing widespread flooding. Provisional figures suggest more than 341mm of rain fell in 24 hours in the Lake District – which was a new British record.
More than 100 flood warnings were issued in Scotland, Wales and England in response to the severe weather, of which 47 were designated ‘severe’. In Cumbria a ‘major incident’ was declared as emergency services ferried people from their homes. Whilst in the Lake District the Coastguard was called upon to airlift people trapped in their homes by the rising flood water.
The heavy rain and strong winds were caused by an area of low pressure which arrived on Friday from the Atlantic. The tightly packed isobars show that the winds were also strong.
In Carlisle, the river flowed over the £38 million flood defences that were erected in 2010 following a severe flood in 2005 when three people died. In January 2005, 175mm of rain fell in just 36 hours, causing £250m of damage.
Tropical cyclone Pam has brought torrential rain and damaging winds to the islands of Vanuatu.
Pam began to form on the 6th of March, 750km to the east-northeast of the Solomon Islands – a remote island chain about 1,750km northeast of Australia’s north-eastern city of Cairns.
The system developed as a twin disturbance before becoming a cyclone. Since then Pam gained energy from the warm waters of the South Pacific. Sustained, destructive winds of more than 180 mph hit Vanuatu, the rainfall caused just as many problems. A rainfall report of 495mm for one 24 hour period was recorded.