The recent flooding in the UK has been near-catastrophic, costing people their homes and businesses. Worst of all, it happened at the time of year that we most cherish our homes and belongings: Christmas. Storm Abigail might have sounded friendly, but it certainly wasn't a visitor that most people wanted during the festive season.
The Lake District was one of the most severely hit areas which I was greatly concerned about because I have family and friends who live there. Thankfully my family and friends weren't affected by the floods but other people in the town were. Seeing the devastation the floods caused has a lot of us thinking who's to blame?
The Government's Fault?
Some people suggest that it is the government's fault for not putting enough investment into flood defences. In fact, David Cameron has now started calling for more to be done to stop flooding happening again in the future. If he had made this call at the time of the flooding last year, then this year's problems might not have happened, or at least not be as severe. It's also really important to remember that councils will need money from the government to put plans into place. But then again, even if Cameron calls for things to change, it's the councils themselves who are expected to put it in motion.
Responsibility of Local Councils?
People are also criticising local councils for being slow to take action, or too caught up in PR exercises to actually do the right thing. In some areas, councils did start to increase their flood defences as early as 2013, but in others, nothing has yet been done. It's easy to understand the frustrations of the people who have been affected by the floods. Ideally, the councils should be working with homeowners. Something as simple as providing leaflets advising them on how to flood-proof their homes could be a good start, as well as funds for reinforcing and rebuilding homes that have previously been damaged. For those who see their houses being flooded year on year - with little chance of being able to sell them on as a result - it can only get worse if nothing is done.
Freak Weather Problem?
It might also be that, even though we do try hard to put barriers and defences in place, sometimes the weather just gets the better of us. Reports have linked worse flooding in the UK with climate change, suggesting that things might get worse a lot faster than we are able to predict them. If you don't even understand how much rain is going to fall, how can you put a plan in place to deal with it? This has to be a huge part of the problem, and we could be taking action in our own homes to start slowing climate change down. It seems a lot of people agree that little could be done due to the unpredictability of the rain fall. In a survey carried out by Simpson Millar 62% of respondents actually didn't think there was any way to avoid the damage that was caused. Perhaps they are right, but if freak weather conditions are to be a more common occurrence with climate change surely something has to be done.
When all is said and done, it is hard to pin things down to one sole source of blame. Yes, more can be done to combat bad weather conditions, with councils as well as homeowners themselves stepping up to put defences in place. But at the same time, the weather is a powerful force which cannot always be predicted - and never stopped. That's why we need to respect it and understand that there is always a chance for flooding like this to happen again.