Dr Justin Butler, CEO of Ambiental Technical Solutions, offers more insight on the UK floods of 2014, on BBC News.
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David Shukman [Voiceover]: In the Somerset Levels, massive news pumps are brought in from Holland. The Dutch have the kinds of expertise that comes from centuries of living below sea level. By contrast, what’s happening here is an emergency response and many people are asking if the country should have been better prepared.
One major wake up call came back in 2007. 50,000 homes were flooded. Water supplies were cut off. And in the wake of the crisis, an inquiry led to a long list of recommendations to prevent this from being repeated.
This afternoon I was offered a lift in an amphibious car. It was the best way to see the village of Wraysbury besides the Thames. It’s been flooded before, but never for so long.
I’m besides the River Thames in Middlesex. This car can also be a boat, this street has become a river. Now, every time there’s a major flood there’s an inquiry and calls for action. This is a report from the 2007 floods. So, the question is, have the lessons been learned.
Well, looking around, it doesn’t seem that they have.
The enquiry, the Pit Review, called for major reforms to keep the country safe. Better systems for warnings – that definitely happened.
More co-ordination between different agencies – that’s also got much better. But, the review also wanted spending on flood defences to increase above inflation. That hasn’t happened.
Professor Richard Ashley: The things that we said should happen are not happening and it’s really frustrating that people are suffering and people are going to suffer now for quite a long time before the water drains away.
One big concern is infrastructure. Losing the main line to Cornwall is exactly the kind of damage that was warned about back in 2007, but at the same time some technology has improved.
This simulation of how a flood develops offers a far more accurate forecast of the areas at risk and that can help save lives.
Dr Justin Butler: There has certainly been a lot of investment in both wall flood defences but also flood modelling and flood forecasting systems to help raise awareness and improve our understanding of flooding in this country.
Peter Kavanagh: I just got the shopping off. Oh yeah yeah yeah.
David Shukman [Voiceover]: Meanwhile, life in the flood zone.
Peter Kavanagh, the man with the amphibious car, brings the shopping and the mail. Coping with floods is one thing, preventing them is quite another.
David Shukman, BBC News in Wraysbury.
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