Friday, November 09, 2007


Current work: fiction and n0nfiction
Listening to: Justin Currie

I was early for my meeting yesterday so nipped into the cathedral to get one of my last pictures for the book. It was very strange, being the only person in the whole cathedral apart from the organist (who was playing Elgar) and one member of staff. I ended up tiptoeing.

Meeting good; then home, sorted out some notes... and caught the weather forecast. They’re predicting a storm surge around here – they say maybe as bad as 1953 (which had a 3.2m surge – the predicted one is 2.9m and we have a similar forecast and tides to 31 January 1953), and we’ve just had the biggest evacuation of people in the flood warning areas since 1953 (which was a national tragedy – the 1978 floods were also very serious).

I’m hoping that it won’t be as bad as expected. We have a better warning system in place than we had in 1953 (flood sirens that our dear government wants to replace with text messages – HOW STUPID IS THAT?… oh yes, it’s cheap and we’re not in London) but we also have flood barriers that are in appalling condition and completely inadequate (we’re not in London so we’re not one of this government’s priorities). Now, I know from my research on the Norfolk Almanac of Disasters that the east coast is hit pretty regularly with flooding (every 20-30 years it’s REALLY bad). So the said flood barriers are NOT a luxury – without them, there’s a real risk to life and an appalling amount of damage (insured, possibly, but large insurance payouts means that insurance costs for EVERYONE rise, and some flood areas are now practically uninsurable).

This part of the country is the driest, hottest and sunniest region and it's a fabulous place to live, but there is a downside: we’re also very low-lying. According to the environment agency, about 25% of the area (which also includes Lincolnshire) is below sea level and we have 160km of coastline. So it doesn’t bode well for us. Southtown Road in Yarmouth is already flooded, as is Blakeney; the sea has also gone through the doors of the lifeboat museum in Cromer. At the time of writing, we have 50 schools closed in the county because of flooding or flood alert; we have 8 severe flood warnings, 9 flood warnings and 25 flood watch warnings in the region. So I really, really hope everyone stays safe.

Edit: Seems we've escaped the worst - very relieved. Our local paper, the Eastern Daily Press, has pics here.


Amy Andrews said...

Yowzer Kate - hope everything/one stays safe too. I'm sending you cyber sunshine to chase away those clouds.

Nell said...

Hope everyone is okay. I agree the govt think only London and the south matters.

Michelle Styles said...

Glad you and yours are safe and dry. My fingers are crossed.

I do so agree that London gets the lion share. Do NOT get me started...

Shirley said...

Glad you're all safe.

I couldn't agree more; London is always the priority. Grr.

Jan Jones said...

Text messages? They seriously considered text messages instead of sirens????

Liz Fielding said...

I'm glad things weren't as bad as predicted, Kate -- although rough enough. I was also chewing my fingernails about family in Holland, but they closed the 100 miles barrier (they take flood defence seriously there -- GB take note) and all was well, thank goodness.

I know Blakeney and Cromer well and saw a documentary about the '53 flood on the television recently and it was horrendous.

Kate Hardy said...

Amy - thanks. (It's raining here today...)

Nell, Michelle. Shirley - thanks, we're fine. Wouldn't it be nice if the government listened to the regions?

Liz - glad your family in Holland was fine. 1953 was awful here. 1978 saw huge flooding, too. (There are certain bits of the coast that ALWAYS get badly hit. And, given past flooding experience, I am surprised by some new developments... but I guess the authorities have weighed up the pros and cons between the need to house a growing population and the risk of flood...)