Having so much personal experience with catastrophe brought by flood and wind, I am reading and watching with compassion and distress what this winter's extreme weather is doing in the UK. It's particularly affecting the south of England, which means some of the oldest areas that we who aren't English but learned to love via literature, fiction and history. This is King Arthur country, the country of Midsomer Murders, King Alfred, Thomas Hardy's Wessex, Oxfordshire, Stratford-on-Avon among many other other associations that are loved by us in the U.S. as much as in England. It is beautiful in the way that only land that has been lovingly cultivated and intelligently nurtured, for at least 1500 years can be. From this part came many of our ancestors to what would eventually become the United States. You can see much of the same methods of architecture, agriculture and landscaping, and experience the cultural roots in the homes of friends on the Eastern Shore of Maryland even today.
The worst affected -- from what I can tell via news reports, and I do not personally know the geography in the way I do Maryland's for instance -- are the Somerset Levels, which have hosted humanity since at least the Neolithic, which were early drainage projects to expand agriculture and husbandry going back at least to the Roman occupation.
|Somerset Levels Seen From Glastonbury Tor|
|Somerset Levels Today|
What is to be done? What can be done?
Lord Smith denied making the controversial comment that Britain may have to choose whether it wants to save “town or country” from future flooding because it is too costly to defend both.
“What I have said is that the clear priorities that have been set for us by successive governments is: our top priority is protecting lives; our second priority is protecting people's homes and people's businesses; our third priority is protecting as much agricultural land as we can.
“That's the order of priority, that happens in both the town and the country.”
The worst storms yet are to hit the region this weekend. It has been battered by one storm, worse than the preceding one, since the holidays.
The Met Office issued severe weather warnings for the flood-stricken south-west of England but also for London, the south-east and Wales, predicting torrential rain and winds of up to 80mph on Friday night and Saturday, which could cause another wave of power cuts and bring down trees as well as causing inland and coastal flooding.
These are not catastrophes of a single season. This extreme weather is the new order of things. For all of us living in water-rich lands, in which past drainage, building and paving over are taking a dreadful toll of our preset and future. Water Meadows were called that for a reason. Just as right where I live Spring Street is named that for a reason, and the waterfront is five minutes away by foot.
However, for everybody not affected personally: Let's Go Sochi. rahrahrah.