The UK is not known for handling extreme weather in a cool, calm and collected manner. In the past, thin layers of snow have been known to shut down airports, fears of train tracks melting in a heat wave have played havoc with UK commuters, and now heavy rainfall has trapped plucky drivers diving into flooded roads.
Forecasters have estimated that nearly 40mm fell in an hour in the UK on Tuesday, whilst the average for the whole month of June is 49mm. One viral video shared on Facebook, shows drunken pedestrians encouraging cars to brave the flooded underpass. Crowds cheer as a Vauxhall attempts and immediately regrets braving the flooded road leading to an underpass. Onlookers, who clearly didn’t think anyone would succumb to their chants, can be heard saying, ‘why would you go for that,’ followed by many expletives describing the driver’s stupidity.
There were varying stories and fortunes across Britain with people in Cambridgeshire blissfully enjoying a punt down the flooded river Cam. Whilst images and videos of London and parts of the midlands show the flash downpours wreaking havoc.
The river Cam looking busy. pic.twitter.com/SDXip0RGxP
— Bill Brogan (@brogan_bill) June 8, 2016
— LimelightMusicAgency (@LimelightMusicA) June 8, 2016
Although we can usually laugh at the UK’s inability to keep it’s cities running, and it’s tendency to make mountains out of molehills in terms of weather precautions, in this case, the torrential storm did create an emergent situation. Luton airport experienced a power surge at passport control, causing huge delays for holidaymakers returning to the UK or coming for a ‘summer’ holiday.
However, in terms of emergencies that extend further than the tragedy of having to queue at boarder control, many found themselves in real life-threatening situations. A man and his two children were struck by lightening at a primary school sports event in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. The children remain in hospital being treated for burn injuries whilst their father is in a critical condition.
Throughout London on Wednesday, fire fighters helped free drivers from their flooded cars with rising water (of which most found themselves trapped by accident, not foolishness), including a group of children who had escaped to the roof of their car. Towns in Birmingham were particularly hard hit, as homes were flooded with up to two metres of water, as well as several property fires caused by lightning strikes.
Every bout of flooding provokes predictable levels of despair and scrutiny. However, this wave (pardon the pun) of flooding has incurred unprecedented criticism and questioning. This all comes just six months after the floods from Storm Desmond caused chaos and devastation in the North of England and in Wales. Some MP’s, experts and the public alike are criticisng the government for their failure to implement protection and prevention techniques, despite committing to spending £2.3 billion on the issue.
France also faced severe flooding just one week ago, as the River Seine in Paris burst its banks. Of course as the country prepares to host the footballing European Championships, starting next week, the only flooding they were expecting was from fans and tourists flooding into to take in the footballing spectacle.
With both the UK and France experiencing extreme rainfall, and both capitals coming to a standstill from floods, many will start to point the finger at climate change. But that’s a whole other story. For now, we just have to point the finger of judgement at the idiot who willingly drove through an oversized puddle making light of the true tragedy that many faced from this week’s floods.
Comment below with any flood stories you’ve experienced this week.