Julia Hailes MBE

Sustainability Pioneer


Flash floods in Somerset (Jun08)

My local town of Crewkerne doesn’t often hit the headlines. Last Thursday it did. I saw the flash floods first hand.

My sister-in-law had invited me – along with my mother and sister – to a birthday supper for my brother. It was rather a last minute event because she had forgotten about his birthday, which had actually happened the day before.

I picked the children up from school at around 6pm and came back our normal route – which in times of flooding is impassable. Having watched the children do the Haka (New Zealand rugby war song) on the trampoline in the torrential rain, I set off for Devon at about 7pm.

Was slightly suprised to be queuing as I headed down the hill to Crewkerne. But as I neared the Market Square the cause for the hold up was clear. Water was gushing down the street, the pub had sandbags to stop it coming in and cars were having to weave around deep gullies of water.

Heading out towards Chard was even more dramatic. The water was coming at such a pace it looked like rapids – and stones were strewn across the road.

I managed to get to my sister’s house but my mother and her husband had phoned to say they were stranded. After some delay they arrived and I manage to persuade them all into my car to share a lift. We didn’t get very far. Fallen electric pylons blocked the road and the A303 was reported as closed as well.

My brother and sister-in-law dined alone, whist the rest of us stayed at my sister’s house. The following morning I discovered that my car had not gone unscathed – I had a puncture. Rather bizarrely it was the second one of the week. The most exciting thing was that I managed to change the wheel on my own – normally I manage to find a man to help!

Is flooding more common now than in the past? I don’t know. But there does seem to be a problem with so much land being paved over – for parking, terraces, new houses or whatever.

Climate change scientists predict more storms. If that’s the case they’ll be more flooding. And not everyone will find it as exciting as I did – or be so lucky in not getting stranded anywhere problematic.

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