Disaster in Cumbria

November 23, 2009

My worries about getting a walk in this weekend were put into sharp perspective by the disastrous flooding in the towns of Workington, Keswick and Cockermouth (see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8371944.stm). Extremely heavy rain – it has been reckoned, the highest rainfall ever recorded in the UK over a 24 hour period – hit the area on Thursday 19th November, leading to several bridges (major ones) being washed away, the death of a policeman while he was trying to direct traffic away from the dangerous waters, and serious damage to the area’s homes and businesses, in Cockermouth particularly.

My thoughts are with all affected. Doubtless there will be a scramble from the government and opposition to both make political capital out of this event; little mention will be made of the neglect all rural areas have suffered over the last few decades in infrastructural terms, and stable doors will now be firmly locked. An immediate reaction from me was to consider shifting the fundraising aspect of this project into some kind of relief fund, but then again this is a 3- or 4-year fundraising drive and what is needed in Cumbria right now is a) instant support for affected individuals and b) decent and long-term investment from the government, of the kind they should be doing anyway (when they are not propping up bad bankers or buying nuclear weapons they will never fire). Watch this space, however.

If the waters subside and bridges stay standing I still hope to walk in the district again before Christmas though will remain further south, near Grasmere and Ambleside.

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