BACKGROUND· Thousands of people were moved out of their homes in mid October 2000 after floods in many towns and villages in South East England were engulfed by rising waters - waters tore through homes and shops in the centre of Uckfield (East Sussex).
· Worst flooding in South East for 40 years – Environment Agency – issuing 17 severe flood warnings, with 13 on rivers across E
ast Sussex and Kent.
WHAT HAPPENED? · The River Uck burst its banks - Heavy rain left Uckfield in the grip of the worst flooding crisis for decades. · Uckfield was among the worst hit areas - 180 millimetres (7.0 inches) of rain in 72 hours - 16th October 2000. · The river banks could not support the water load and as the velocity and volume increased the banks of the river became overloaded and burst. · Surface run-off, referred to as overland flow, occurred when the rainfall was too intense to infiltrate into the soil in Uckfield. Therefore the infiltration capacity was exceeded. The clay soil is impermeable and becomes saturated by the large volume of water. The water therefore runs on top of the soil rather than through it and adding to the already overloaded rivers.
STRUCTURAL AND FINANCIAL - Damage running into millions of pounds was caused to homes and businesses as the River Uck burst its banks and swept along roads, blocking major routes and halting rail services. The total clean-up bill has been put at £2 billion by one insurance firm – Large expenses were paid to the Army and rescue services. · ACCOMMODATION – Families in Uckfield saw large parts of their property destroyed or badly damaged – Emergency services were unable to reach them, therefore small boats were used to rescue residents. · POWER - Electricity supply was been totally cut off in large areas of Uckfield after power lines were switched off. Therefore there was no heating, television, refrigerators and other electrical appliances. As shops were closed there was a limited amount of food. Gas and water supplies were also affected as pipes were damaged. · FARMING – The severe flooding damaged all crops and agricultural produce for the forthcoming year; cattle and sheep were also been found dead after becoming stranded and drowning · CRIME - With shops, both large and small, being unoccupied they provided an easy target for criminals - In Uckfield at the height of the floods, PC Chris McNeil, arrested a youth, who had a trolley full of goods at the rear of a supermarket, on suspicion of looting. · TRANSPORT – All roads situated in the lowland areas were not suitable for cars meaning that travelling to work was almost impossible and time
HOW THE CONSEQUENCES OF SUCH FLOODS MAY BE PREVENTED Projects are being tested to reduce the flood risk and prevent serious floods affecting land and property: · Levees could be built to prevent flood water from spilling out of the river onto the surrounding land. In some places massive amounts of boulders could be piled on top of the levees to make them higher, in the hope of keeping the River Uck in its channel. However space is limited in Uckfield and this would not be a realistic proposition. · Cut-offs could be excavated to straighten out meanders, thereby avoiding the high volume of water overflowing because the water travels faster and therefore quicker to the sea. · The river bed could be dredged and revetments built and therefore increasing the capacity of the river.. · To reduce the amount of water entering property, sandbags could be used to reduce the damage caused. · Major roads could be raised and reserve electrical power supplies put in the ground to make sure that they are not as badly affected. · Accommodation (New Housing and Hostels) could be constructed on higher ground therefore being available if floods affect
THE FUTURE · Climate changes have made Britain a “hot-spot” for flooding, in which the risk to lives and property will increase tenfold over the next century. South East England is likely to see more sudden intense thunderstorms and there will be a danger of flooding of low-lying land due to the rise in sea level. · This century, the sea is expected to rise by 15-50cm as glaciers and snowfields melt due to global warming. By the 2050s, the rise in level due to climate change will increase the frequency of dangerously high tides from once a century to once a decade, threatening structures such as the Thames Barrage.