Recent flooding has devastated the homes of many people in the north and northwest of Britain. Boxing day floods hit the homes of residents in Bradford. MP James Wharton, the minister responsible for the Northern Powerhouse initiative, visited the neighbourhood of Stockbridge in Keighley to view the latest clean-up efforts. Mr Wharton was invited by local MPs Philip Davies and Kris Hopkins to see the extent of the damage for himself.
The minister and the local MP’s had much to say on the subject of flooding and the impact therein, (you can read more by following the above link). However, what has been highly visible in most of the flooded areas, is the acts of kindness of people, working together to form communities, reaching out, helping each other in times of need, (the big society in action)?
One example of this is an unlikely alliance between the police and a number of motorbike clubs in West Yorkshire, in an effort to protect homes and valuables of flood victims.
Opportunistic thieves have targeted flooded homes, and valuables that have been left outside properties were being stolen. Flooded businesses and evacuated homes in West Yorkshire had been broken into and unbelievably a local school was looted.
West Yorkshires over-stretched Police force said it was receiving help from several local motorbike clubs from the Bradford area who went on patrols to keep areas safe. A statement published by the police force on 28th December said “As the clean-up of Mytholmroyd, Todmorden and Hebden Bridge continues, we are being made aware of persons attending the area and removing items which are being left outside properties either for disposal or to dry out. In order to ensure the safety of empty properties in the area additional police resources have been drafted in from other districts and areas
In addition to this, several motorcycle clubs from Bradford and surrounding areas have volunteered to patrol the area as extra eyes and ears on the ground”
Bikers from Bradford began their patrols on 27th December stating that they were “disgusted” by the reports of looting. Bikes were not used to patrol as they were deemed too dangerous to use on flooded roads.
One member of Pyeratz Motorcycle Club based in Bradford, was the first to organise a patrol. Kath Dearden, 54, told the IBTimes UK: “I came up with the idea because I’d heard someone say their flooded home had been looted. It was disgusting. They had been told by the insurance companies to leave their belongings outside while they assessed the damage and a thief came and stole them”.
In August 2004 Boscastle in Cornwall was devastated by floods which destroyed homes and livelihoods. During the flooding cars were swept out to sea and around one hundred residents had to be rescued in the biggest airlift since the Second World War, (source, theguardian.com).
However, it is now currently being heralded as the most environmentally friendly place in the country having undergone a “green” renaissance during its reconstruction. In total eight inches of rain fell in twenty-four hours, swelling the Valency and Jordan rivers that meet there creating a torrent of 440 million gallons of water which ended up cascading down the main street.
This community has been strengthened by those events, having witnessed first-hand the destructive power of nature, many of the residents took on the threat of global warming and decided to address environmental issues when the village was rebuilt. They now boast the highest concentration of green businesses in the country. Many of the village businesses have signed up to the Green Tourism Business Scheme and achieved the highest possible award.
Andrea Nicholas, director of the GTBS, cited Boscastle as a “fantastic example of how a society can get along” “They have become a stronger community through adversity and the neighbourly spirit is now continuing to lead on to newer and better things”
One local resident who has lived there for over sixty years and lost her business explained that the community has pulled together after the events of 2004, and are more aware of their own impact on the environment. She felt that when it comes to helping someone who is experiencing problems everyone feels it’s their duty to help.
Community spirit is something that most people took for granted up to and shortly after the Second World War, but seems to be in short supply in the last fifty or so decades. Both of the above examples show what can be done when adversity hits… Perhaps the floods will wake people up to the need to pull together and get back that spirit that saw this country survive and flourish after two world wars.