Boscastle Case Study

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Reena Verma

Boscastle Flood 2004 Case study

Boscastle is in the south west of England as shown on the map to the left. The Boscastle flood occurred on the 16th August 2004 in Boscastle in England. Boscastle is the only natural harbour for 20 miles along the Northern Cornwall Coast. The flood took the people of Boscastle by surprise as the village isn’t usually prone to extreme flooding. The village had never experienced such a flood. The location of the village is within the Valency valley, and the Valency is usually a quiet stream which follows a course from the hills to the valley. Because the valley was so steep, it accelerated on the hills as it travelled down to the valley floor. This meant that the water fell extremely quickly down the valley sides. Also, the shape of the valley meant that the rainwater from the surrounding area was getting built up into a relatively narrow space descending towards the valley bottom. This caused an increase in run-off speed, which meant that it couldn't hold enough water to prevent the flooding which occurred. The entire South-West of the country had been beaten by stormy weather over the days leading up to the flood, and as a result the ground was saturated on the day of the flood. The 16th was a very hot day, with clear skies in the morning and very high temperatures for much of the day. The combination of high temperature and the large quantity of unabsorbed surface water, and also moist winds off the sea and the effects of the local relief caused a great deal of moist, warm air to travel upwards quickly. The storm clouds formed very rapidly and soon Boscastle was overshadowed by a menacing storm cloud. By early afternoon, the rain had started, and within a few hours, already 5 inches of rain has fallen on Boscastle. When the flow in the valley was met by the water coming down from the moors through the steep valley, the volume of water in such a small space at once caused the Valency to burst its banks & cause the exceptional level of damage in the village. The diagram above shows the amount of rainfall, where the darkest grey areas show where the most rain had fallen. In the space of one hour, about 3.5 inches of rain had fallen, and this was a very rapid amount of rain in a small scale of time. In the Valency valley, the walls are very steep,  and this caused the water to come down at a higher speed and therefore move quicker to the bottom of the valley.


There were many impacts on Boscastle itself, each being significant to the area. It affected the people, the environment and the economy of Boscastle very much. There were both primary and secondary effects on the people, economy and the environment.

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Impact on the local people living in Boscastle who were affected by the flood

The local people of Boscastle were affected very greatly in many ways. Firstly, people couldn’t get out of buildings because of the floodwater and had to seek refuge on the roofs of the buildings and just wait to be rescued. Because of this they were waiting around to be rescued for a large amount of time. Because of this, it meant that people were of risk of developing hypothermia, or being swept away by the flood waters. The dangers of developing hypothermia, shock and being ...

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