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Monday, February 10, 2014 

The floodapocalypse.

Cometh the hour, cometh the man. With Owen "the badgers are moving the goalposts" Paterson otherwise indisposed with a detached retina, into the puddle has stomped Eric Pickles, a force of nature few would like to be subjected to.  Where Paterson seemed just a touch too smooth to really feel the pain of those currently up to their neck in the mixture of sewage, mud and stagnant water, Pickles is all too rough and ready. And if the worst comes to worst, he could quite easily double as a raft, his buoyancy beyond question.

Yes, it's the floodapocalypse, the country not having been this saturated since Simon Cowell left to break America.  Suitably broken, Cowell is back, and has brought the weather with him.  With January the wettest month since records began around the time of Ethelred the Unready, a fair proportion of the country is underwater, which means only one thing: someone, somewhere, is responsible.  You could quibble and say that such an unprecedented amount of precipitation was always going to cause flooding regardless of how many rivers had been dredged, or fields left to be used as additional flood plains, but clearly you'd be wrong.  This is not the time for saying oh dear, how terrible about your fields, at least we've saved thousands of houses from being made uninhabitable, this is the time for gestures, tours of the affected areas and dozens upon dozens of COBRA meetings.

While there has been widespread damage to the coast over the past month and many areas remain underwater, what you might not necessarily realise despite the coverage is the tiny number of houses that have actually been flooded, at least in Somerset itself, not including the flooding along the Thames today.  This stands at 40, which seems remarkable.  This isn't to underestimate the effect of being cut off by the floods, which is the real problem in the Levels, but it certainly puts it into perspective.  As the BBC's Paul Hudson points out, this is a minuscule amount when compared with the 688 properties affected by the coastal surge on the Yorkshire coast late last year, let alone the 23,479 homes that were flooded back in 2007 in the Yorkshire/Humber region alone.  Over the past 10 weeks about 5,000 properties in total around the country have been flooded

This helps to explain why it wasn't initially a big story that such a large area of Somerset had been and remains flooded.  Yes, the area and plenty of land has been hard hit, but the houses have mostly been spared.  Such a situation cannot go on for such a period of time however without someone getting the blame, and the Environment Agency has had it squarely in the neck.  Head of the quango Lord (Chris) Smith complains that his hands had been tied by rules set down by successive governments, and that only £400,000 was provided in 2012 as a consequence, nowhere enough for the job of removing silt from the rivers in the Levels to be done properly.  He also mentions the 1.3 million properties that have not been flooded due to his organisation's work.

With Pickles in charge though as Paterson continues to recuperate, the shit-throwing duly commenced.  He blamed the EA for giving duff advice to ministers, all but suggesting Smith should be shown the door, only for Paterson to complain to David Cameron that Pickles was clearly criticising past ministers at the same time.  Understandable as it is for all involved to look for someone to be held responsible, as the only other thing to do is either visit those affected, with a procession of the great and not so good donning waterproofs and rubber boots to visit Burrowbridge, Nigel Farage finally succeeding in finding a flood of some sort, even if not of Romanians or Bulgarians, or pretend to be in some sort of control by holding discussions in the Cabinet Office Briefing Rooms, it just makes all involved look even more pathetic than usual.  At least King Cnut made clear he couldn't hold back the elements.  These cunts try and pretend otherwise.

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