ARTS & LIFESTYLE
Trecherous floods plague English and Welsh citizens
By Elizabeth Lund
Friday, November 10, 2000
Persistent rains in Great Britain have now caused flood conditions in nearly every part of England and Wales, resulting in at least 12 weather-related deaths and severely depleted transportation. Parts of northern England and Wales have gotten more than 200 mm (8 inches) of rain in a series of storms over the last nine days. Brighton, on the southern coast, has been virtually cut off from the outside world because of closed highways and railroads and several villages in Yorkshire are preparing to evacuate. Hampton Court Palace in London is also in danger from the flooding Thames.
York, in northern England, has been the center of some of the worse flooding. It is threatened by the swollen river Ouse, and the Environment Agency estimates that 5,000 homes are within 5 inches of being flooded, an amount of rain that could easily fall within the next few days. Many people have evacuated the area.
Currently, there are 43 severe flood warnings on 26 rivers, with 237 additional, less severe flood warnings. The situation is only expected to worsen, with more storms predicted in the next few weeks and an even more intense Christmas storm. Gales have reached 60 miles an hour, causing two deaths when a falling tree hit a car. Flood barriers are protecting rivers from overflowing in some areas, but these barriers may give way if much more force is put upon them.
This massive flooding, now comparable to the Great Flood of 1947, has been blamed by some on global warming. Prince Charles addressed a British Medical Association conference saying, "Some recent occurrences, such asthe present severe weather conditions in our country are, I have no doubt, the consequences of mankind's arrogant disregard of the delicate balance of nature." Others say the flooding is just an anomalous part of natural weather patterns.
Opposing British politicians have criticized Prime Minister Tony Blair for his handling of Britain's problems this fall, which have also included train fatalities and widespread fuel shortages. "A public that expects their government to be in control knows that this prime minister and this government has lost control," said Conservative William Hague of the Tory government. Further controversy rose from the reluctance of insurance companies to reimburse those whose homes have been flooded more than once in recent months.