Flooding: ‘A hard rain’s gonna fall - and we must be prepared’

The A1101 at Welney is closed due to flooding. Picture: Ian Burt

The A1101 at Welney is closed due to flooding. Picture: Ian Burt - Credit: IAN BURT

The rain that greets me this morning is not nice rain. It's not the refreshing kind or the soft misty kind. It's hard, take-no-prisoners, rain.

As my colleagues pile into the office one by one, soaked through from a wet commute, it strikes me that we are still host to a fair amount of fortune, weather-wise.

Thankfully, I have not had to bail out of my house or be rescued as tonnes of flood water invaded my town. I have watched the coverage of those who have suffered at the hands of the flooding this winter with such a heavy heart, I can't imagine how awful it must be for people and businesses affected. Communities and emergency services have rallied more than ever before to save lives, and rescue teams have been speedily deployed to help those areas worst affected.

While those with political power get their ducks in a row about the subject of flood defences, there seems to be growing consensus across the board that we need to think differently about our approach to flood risk management. A failure to plan for wetter, stormier winters will leave everybody feeling let down and frustrated; stranded at the mercy of our changing climate. It is not an option to leave things as they are.

Decarbonising the economy and adapting to climate change impacts must be high on the agenda for this year and all environmental discussions going forward. But, within that, we need to be thinking differently about how land is used to produce food, protect against flooding and to serve as a home to us and our wildlife. We can achieve all these things, it will just take a different, less unilateral approach.

Floods classed as 'once a century' events today will hit us every 10-20 years by 2080. Thankfully, nature can be our ally in the battle against extreme weather events. And protecting nature can help to prevent large-scale flooding of towns, villages, businesses and homes. Working against it, destroying our natural spaces and barricading our homes is not the solution.

We have plenty of expertise in this area and information to draw on. There are examples all over the country of where land that has been managed for nature has helped to alleviate the effects of flooding and in some areas, prevent it all together. All we need now is the will of those in power to listen, make the right changes and to help protect our homes and our wildlife for future generations.

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•Erica Auger is RSPB Communications Manager at its Eastern England Regional Office in Norwich. The opinions above are those of Erica Auger. You can read more from our columnists in the EDP each day.