The Somerset Levels Floods (What caused the floods in 2014? (It was the…
The Somerset Levels Floods
Where are the Somerset Level?
Somerset is a county in south-west England. The Somerset Levels and the Somerset Moors form an extensive area of low-lying farmland and wetlands bordered by the Bristol Channel and Quantock Hills to the west and the Mendip Hills to the north.
The area is drained by several rivers, most notably the tone and the Parrett, which flow to the Severn Estuary via Bridgwater. Flooding has occurred naturally here for centuries. As the area has been developed for farming and settlement, many people are nw at risk from extreme flood events.
What caused the floods in 2014?
It was the wettest January since records began in 1910. A succession of depressions driven across the Atlantic Ocean brought a period of wet weather lasting several weeks. about 350mm of rain fell in January and Febuary, about 100mm above average.
High tides and storm surges swept water up the rivers from the Bristol Channel. This prevented fresh water reaching the sea and it spilled over the river banks.
Rivers had not been dredged for at least 50 years, and had become clogged with sediment.
What were the impacts of the flood?
Over 600 houses flooded
16 farms evacuated
Residents evacuated to temporary accommodation for several months
Villages such as Moorland and Muchelney cut off. This affected people's daily lives, eg. education, shops.
Many people had power supplies cut off
Somerset County Council estimated the cot of food damage to be more than £10 million.
Over 14,000 ha of agircultural land under water for 3-4 weeks.
Over 1,000 livestock evacuated.
Local roads cut ff by floods.
Bristol to Taunton railway line closed at Bridgwater.
Flooodwaters were heavily contaminated with sewage and other pollutants including oil and chemicals.
A huge amount of debris had to be cleared.
Stagnant water that had collected for months had to be reoxygenated before being pumped back into the rivers.
Managing the floods
As the floodwaters spread out over the Somerset Levels, homeowners coped as best they could. Villagers cut off by the floods used boats to go shopping or attend school. Local community groups and volunteers gave invaluable support.
A £20 million Flood Action Plan has been launched by Somerset count Council who will work together with agencies such as the Environment Agency to reduce the risk of future flooding.
In March 2014, 8km of the rivers Tone and Parratt were dredged to increase the cappacity of the river channel.
Road levels have been raised in places to maintain communications and enable businesses to continue during future flood events.
Vulnerable communities will have flood defences.
River banks are being raised and strengthened and more pumping stations will be built.
In the longer term, by 2024, consideration will be given to a tidal barrage at Bridgwater.