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Flooding in Boscastle

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Introduction

Flooding in Boscastle In this report I will assess the causes, both natural and artificial, of the flooding in Boscastle on 17 Aug 2004 and the impact of the floods on the local environment, as well as the measures that could, and are being undertaken to deal with the effects of flooding. Boscastle, is located in the south-west of England, on the coast, near Cornwall. The settlements position in relation to the mouth of a very narrow river valley leaves it vulnerable to flooding. Flood risk is heightened whenever storm waters are denied a wide flood plain to spread into: in a narrow valley, whatever land exists either side of the channel will become rapidly submerged, once the river has burst its banks. These were the heaviest rains in living memory for the people of the village - 185mm fell in just five hours. Given that the total annual rainfall for much of southern England is around 1,000mm, this is a lot of water to have arrived in such a very short time. ...read more.

Middle

There are now around 1,000 permanent residents, most of who rely upon the situation of the settlement to provide tourist revenues (it is close to the South West Coast Path). The rainfall hit at the worst time of year when the settlement population doubles to 2,000 as tourists arrive, many of who are following the South West Coast Path. Much higher levels of motor vehicle damage were also experienced, as a result of this influx. In addition, shops were carrying greater levels of stock than at other times of the year. Although new flood defences were set to be built in October, work had not yet started. Overall, excellent emergency services and Environment Agency response meant no lives were lost. The long and short term impacts Economic losses - Much of rural Cornwall is classified as a deprived region. It is one of the UK's poorest rural counties, with EU Objective One status, meaning that incomes are below 75% of the EU average (Financial Times, 18 August 2004). A victim of early deindustrialisation, the region's mining industries are now long-gone leaving it over-dependent on tourism. ...read more.

Conclusion

Irreplaceable loss of historical artefacts - The 'Witch Museum' - which is fifty years old and receives 50,000 visitors a year - has seen some of its unique contents damaged. There are a number of methods to prevent flooding in the area that could be used in the future. However, cost is an important factor for such a small community, and some of the more effective strategies may be simply too expensive to put in place. One suggested strategy, is the planting of trees and other vegetation to increase interception, and prevent water from reaching the nearby rivers so quickly. Dredging of the three rivers in the area may also help prevent rivers bursting their banks, and will be relatively low cost in comparison to other methods. The most popular suggestion with the Environment Agency so far, is to discourage new developments in the area, to prevent any significant losses should flooding occur again. This may have a negative effect on the community however. The area is heavily reliant on tourism and new developments are necessary to attract visitors. The area may sink into decline if the number of tourists visiting the area decreases. A closer look at the position of Boscastle Daniel Larrosa 10D 12/12/04 ...read more.

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