Thursday, 27 October 2011

Let's talk about flooding...

I read with interest yesterday that the Environment Agency- as part of a consortium of organisations- have launched a new support network on the social networking site Facebook for those affected by flooding in the UK. The Flood Group UK page aims to help people prepare for flooding, support them in the aftermath of flooding, and perhaps most importantly, offers a forum where people can share their experiences of flooding.
The page also contains a directory of useful flood information and real time flood warnings for England and Wales (as shown below.)



Flood Warning Page - taken from the Flood Group UK Facebook page
As someone who has become extremely exacerbated with the huge influx of businesses and corporations  onto social networking sites (apparently 246,306 people "like" the high street store Argos!) I am pleased to see these new online spaces being used for more positive initiatives than simply trying to flog people more stuff. Especially when such initiatives look to increase both communities risk perception and their resilience to the threat of flooding; for me (and many others) a vital step towards communities that can live in balance with natural flood cycles.

The development of such community dialogues is for me imperative. Recently prominent figures (such as Al Gore) have been trying to categorically link increasing extreme weather events, such as flooding, to anthropogenic climate change. This approach for me is dangerous and fails to account for the huge social dimensions of flooding- there are more of us, living increasingly on floodplains, with more water management systems in place than ever before. (Check out Roger Pielke's blog post, "Are US Floods Increasing? The Answer is Still No.")

The debate about whether increases in flooding are caused by changes in climate (human caused or not) or because more of use choose to live in the path of such risks will no doubt rage on. (My hunch is maybe its a combination of both elements?!) While others continue to debate, let's hope that initiatives such as the new Flood Group page on Facebook go some way to reducing the disruption and cost that flooding in the UK continues to cause to people's lives.

If you think your home may be at risk, or you want to learn more about flooding in the UK go "like" the Facebook page, only 101 people have thus far- quite a way to go before flooding is as popular as a high street store.

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