The Humberside floods and Brown's contempt

Workers' Fight workplace bulletin editorials
10 July 2007

It took an Archbishop to mention "Katrina" - the hurricane which flooded New Orleans in 2005. He was so shocked by what he saw in Hull after the flooding - raw sewage was floating into houses and schools and old peoples' homes - that this parallel was all he could think of. And all the more so, because it was the poorest people who were affected - and abandoned.

7 people died. A fifth of the Humberside population was touched by these floods. Well over 50,000 people are left homeless, and almost 30,000 of them are in Hull.

Many are now in caravans, but many are also still in community centres, since it is hard to find an affordable house to rent. Landlords have been using this disaster as an opportunity and putting up rents!

Of course, this flood resulted from an act of nature. Of course, it is partly because of freak weather conditions. It was supposedly the wettest June ever. But this is "high tech" Britain. This is booming Britain. So how come so many people were still not getting any help one week into the deluge?

The answer is that PM Brown was busy with far more important things. Like making as much political capital as possible out of the terror attacks which, even if they were potentially lethal, actually killed nobody.

Now he has come up with just £14m in aid to help with the clean-up - when raw sewage has been floating free over 2/3 of Hull? If you work it out, that is £280 per homeless household! How many have insurance to cover their losses? And what about schools, social facilities and... flood defences?

In fact it turns out that 2,000 Environment Agency jobs are to be cut as part of Brown's on-going 100,000 job cuts in the public sector. Yes, in the agency which deals with flood defences.

A lot of the east coast is low-lying and 90% of Hull is below sea level. But if huge housing estates have been built in flood planes, then shouldn't they be rebuilt on higher ground, or shored up with new defences against the consequences of the far worse global warming to come?