Exeter, News

West Country drowned by floods

Devon and Cornwall took a real lashing from the weather last week with flooding across both counties. The River Exe caused major damage, including the shutdown of the main railway line to London for at least two weeks. Here’s my report which first appeared in Syntagma on Friday.

As I write this, the wind is screaming past my office window, rain slashing into the glass. Our major river, the Exe, just 200 yards away, is brown and angry and lapping at the top of the flood defences. It doesn’t bode well.

There was catastrophic flooding here in the late 1960s which prompted the building of substantial preventative barriers along the river banks. The problem is, they were built to defend against a one-in-40 year emergency. By my reckoning they are well past their timeout.

The Council is reported to be trying to raise money to finance new works aimed at a one-in-100 year episode. Given the nature of official response times, that will not be soon. It will take another disaster to get things moving fast. Not much breath is being held around here.

If David Cameron needs any incentive to slice away at the grotesque European Union budget, let him consider how much we need that money here in Devon. Keep it in the family, Dave!

The Prime Minister subsequently visited the county and turned up at Buckfastleigh for a photo call. Environment Secretary, Owen Paterson, spent time in Exeter, where at least two reporter-led BBC outside-broadcast teams were based for the whole weekend.

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