For those of you not in the UK, it's been a bit wet round here recently. Actually, it's been a lot wet. The wettest June and July since records began in 1766. And it would seem that we've already seen the best weather of the year - for two weeks back in April.
Of course, we as English stereotypical people, should be taking this stoically as proof of point that the weather really is something to complain about, rather than the weather forecasters (whose job is literally trying to make sense out of chaos). However, the fact that nearly 18 inches of rain will have fallen on the UK in 3 months by the end of July is taking the biscuit and two areas of England have been hit by the worst floods seen in living memory. Indeed, I've been unable to get to my own office for the whole of this week because of the problems. (Darn my job for the ease with which I can work from home instead.) Insurers are looking at a hefty £3bn worth of claims and some of the many thousands of households are only now starting to be able try and take stock of their situations now that the six inches of water in their kitchens have receded. In one particular area where the floods impinged on a water processing plant, over 300,000 people are still living without tap water.
Whether or not the cause of the wet weather was the atlantic jet stream redirecting this weather of us instead of the ocean which was caused by the global warming or God just deciding that he needed to average out all the really nice and warm summers we'd had this year, is neither here not there. It's happened and that's that. We'll deal with it, because that's what we do. What has worried me about this is:
- How different the TV coverage was between the first floods that occurred up in the north and the second floods that occurred in my neck of the woods down south. Do the BBC, as was said in jest, have just the one north country reporter and no helicopters, or did they really believe that Wimbledon was more important? Personally I'd have preferred to see less than the full 24hr coverage of water in the streets that we've had for the last ten days. We know already. Things like this tragic accident are worth covering, but seriously, floods look the same from one hour to the next ok? Please don't start projecting CNN's polarized view of the US and the rest of the world across the country's north-south divide.
- The government initially reacted to the floods in the north with a belated "Yes, we'll help". Then when the floods started in the south, they looked for someone to blame! It rained! What are you going to do, blame God? Blame Rihanna and her single Umbrella? Blame Bush, China and India for global warming? It's a flood. Do something about it and then figure out how to deal with them better in both corners of the country than you have done here. At least the Army got on with it.
- How initial radio reports of the southern floods told me my own village - which is on top of a hill and four miles from and 100 feet above the nearest river - was now under water. There were a few puddles, granted, but under water? Biblical flood levels would be needed to reach here. Why is there a tendency to stop checking facts before broadcasting them in cases such as these? You're broadcasting things 24.7 any way. Surely it won't take too long to double check before releasing the news thirty minutes later?
Auntie BBC has come under a lot of flack recently for reasons other than their news coverage and justifiably so, but maybe when the floods do go away, News 24 head Kevin Bakhurst might want to reflect on this even if, by some twist of fate the floods coverage picks up an award or two next year.
P.S: Is it really panic buying when people in areas at risk of flooding suddenly all start buying wellies? Surely that's sensible buying isn't it?
P.P.S: This year's top look of unease so far goes to news reporter Kate Silverton who was sent to the floods in (possibly borrowed) wellies and pink goretex jacket and really didn't look like she wanted to be there. Kate, you're a journalist now - not a corporate financier. They didn't send you to the west bank, did they, so deal with it.