Staines Flooding

Flooded towpath in Staines, around a mile from my house

Monday in Staines

I’m sitting in the upper floor of my home typing this, early on Monday, around 16 hours after we received a severe flood warning, telling us we were likely to be flooded by the rising Thames and might have to be evacuated.  At the moment there is water in the street outside and if it goes up perhaps 6 inches it will start to come inside.  Worse still, it isn’t actually the River Thames that the water is coming from, but it is coming up the sewers. We can no longer pour water down our own drains or flush the toilet, and it is possible that before long we will lose power, so I may not finish this post, and their could be a few days before my next.

Flooding on the tow-path in Laleham, around a mile and a half from where I live, Sun 9 Feb 2014

That’s the scenic side of flooding, and I’ve never seen so many people out with their cameras taking pictures before (it was almost hardly worth me bothering.) It was also unusual that everyone was talking to each other about the situation. Here too we blame the Environment Agency, in part for not properly dredging the Thames, but I think that’s probably a minor issue.

River Crane at Baber Bridge

More importantly we’ve allowed so much of the area to be concreted over, and failed to keep drainage and sewage systems up to date. In 2011 the Environment Agency deliberately release sewage from Heathrow into the River Crane rather than let it back up into the airport after a flow control valve jammed. Here the sewers are ancient and work has not been carried out to keep them in good working order, let alone replacing them by a more modern system which would separate sewage and rainwater. The sewers here and genuinely Victorian, more houses have been added since they were laid and there seems to be little understanding of the system by the people who work on them.

But of course the underlying problem is climate change. We’ve known about the problems of greenhouse gases and global warming for many years, although there are still some (mainly in the pay of fossil fuel industries) who continue to deny them. What little action has been taken by governments around the world, ours included, have been too half-hearted and too late.  Again the fossil fuel industry with its extensive lobbying, particularly in the US, but also in the UK and elsewhere must bear much of the responsibility.

Though we can take pretty pictures of floods, the reality isn’t so nice.

This is a street a little nearer to us, one that was flooded in January and is now flooded again. My own street is rather narrower and at the moment has less water. It can take weeks, months or even years to recover from flooding. If we get flooded I’ll try and document it, but may be rather busy!

Finally, here’s a picture from Sunday evening of one of our local parks. Normally the only water is in a paddling pool way out of picture.

We’ve been busy moving all we can either to our upper floor or at least onto tables etc a few feet above ground, but there are limits to what you can do in preparation.

Wednesday Update

Today, Wednesday, we are still waiting to see if we will flood, with water on the street outside, but at the moment it is running away into our ditch (the same one that made the Environment Agency classify our property as at ‘serious flood risk’, which led to an insurance company refusing to give me a quote) and so far that has saved us. Drains remain blocked. The Thames has gone down two inches since yesterday when it reached its peak level here in the afternoon, but groundwater is still rising. Heavy rain is forecast for tonight. But so far we’ve been relatively fortunate; every news bulletin there are reports of people in the area whose homes have been flooded.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

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