As I write this the TV news is carrying the story of the unfortunate flood victims in mid and west Wales. Infrastructure is under threat including potential damage to a dam. This flood is a terrible thing for those inundated and a sobering sight for the rest of us not immediately affected but who live in areas that could be potentially caught by flooding in our own localities. This welsh inundation followed a period of very heavy rain in which approximately 5 inches of rain fell in 24 hours; a months rainfall at one go.
It was this statistic which hit me; it is clearly a very rare and terrible event but to give a local context it is not as much as the rain which fell on Norfolk in August 1912 causing loss of life in Norwich and the destruction of the Aylsham Navigation along with the bridges including the one on the main road between Coltishall and Horstead. On that occasion between 6 and 6.5 inches fell in a matter of hours and the scene was set. Water will always find it’s way by the easiest route to the sea and that meant the inundation of the Bure valley. It happened on the 26th August and we will be remembering it on the same date this year – 100 years to the day with an event on Coltishall Common.
All of the communities from Aylsham to Coltishall and beyond in both directions were severely affected. After the flood much work was done to improve drainage and to try and prevent a repeat which so far has worked but there has never since been rain on that scale and I’m afraid to say that whatever man does in the face of nature at its most fierce is pretty ineffectual. The flood could be repeated and probably will be at some future time.
In the meantime we must look at lessons learnt then and now elsewhere including in Wales and be like the Scouts – ever prepared.