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We lost a week of university, maybe some perishable food defrosted beyond saving, and we possibly had to cancel plans for a big Christmas send-off. But those are minor losses compared to what many victims of these recent floods have lost.
Sentimental possessions, businesses, and homes have been damaged and lost. As of yesterday, according to the Association of British Insurers, the estimated amount of damage claims could reach over £1billion. Countless lives were at risk over the past month, and the disruption caused here at Lancaster University was just a ripple compared to the tidal wave of chaos in many other parts of the country.
It’s an understatement to call the scenes of damaged property and distressed people upsetting – it’s completely shocking. It makes you think, what caused all this? How could this have been prevented? How can we stop it happening again?
Perhaps it’s the natural fluctuation of average global temperature, or perhaps it’s global warming; I believe that there’s one thing which is at least partially to blame for how majorly these floods affected Britain – the Conservatives.
Cuts to council budgets led to less investment of flood defences which could have helped communities and authorities with dealing with these floods. These are cuts to council budgets, instead of not spending money on bombing Syria, or not scaling down Trident to save millions, or not cutting tax to big business. The money was there to help deal with these floods, but I believe it was Tory austerity which helped make these floods even more devastating than they needed to be.
And it’s not as if these floods haven’t been predicted and made clear to the government. Since the early 2000s, there have been reports predicting worse storms with more rain and worse flooding, and the only solutions are to invest in defences or deal with it. Years later, it would appear that the latter is the preferred route of our current government, as they spend money and military man power dealing with what was a somewhat preventable problem.
Austerity under a Conservative government has been a major factor in the damage to people’s lives caused by floods in the past month or so. Cuts may have saved money in the short term, but it’s obvious after the events of December that cuts lead to more money being spent trying to recover from environmental factors like these floods.
We, as students, lost a week of education which disrupted deadlines and exams and research for dissertations. Education that, I’m sure you all don’t need reminding, we’re paying the government to get. Many of us were left stranded away from home towns, even home countries. Lancaster residents and business owners lost food and merchandise. Countless people suffered losses which could have been stopped if unjustified cuts hadn’t been made.
Christmas for the people who had to deal with these floods must have been sad and difficult. My brother dislocated his knee at 8pm on Christmas Eve, and that was hectic enough. Imagine trying to deal with having most of your ground floor submerged, most of your food inedible, shops empty due to damage and sudden increase in demand, all just before a time that should be about eating lots of food, drinking a little too much alcohol, and having fun with family and friends.
With climate change taking affect, whether you think it’s natural or not, floods aren’t going away any time soon. And it’s become painfully obvious since the beginning of December that the way to deal with the changing climate is not cuts that lead to weak flood defences. In fact, it’s pretty obvious by now that austerity is a con that ends up costing more than it saves.