Monday, 10 February 2014

Flooding: The clean up bill, the political cost and the human dimention

Somebody sitting comfortably somewhere on dry land might be quite oblivious to the realities depicted on television screens showing what is happening elsewhere in the country where people's houses and farming land have been flooded. If I had to compare it to another experience, I would compare it to the events of 9/11. It felt like watching a movie. I was sitting in my office writing for the British Foreign Commonwealth Office when I suddenly saw the images of one of the Twin Towers that had been hit by a plane. Soon afterwards, another Tower was hit and from then onwards things became a rollercoaster. More than 13 years later, we are still dealing with the effects of what happened on that fateful day.

When you watch television screens and see the images of flooding everywhere, if you are really into the news, you start putting things together. Family lives disrupted, rising costs of a clean up operation that will start as soon as the waters recede, replacement of items damaged, railways and roads to be rebuilt and the uncertainty for many farmers many of whom might be put out of business for good will be one piece of the puzzle. Keep an eye also on insurance costs because you will be financially affected by what is happening across the country but we are not just talking about material things. Human lives have been lost.

This is not a movie like the ones we are accustomed to see on television to keep ourselves entertained. This is harsh reality and reality very often surpasses any kind of fictional story that we could possibly produce. Given my background, I am grounded in reality, the kind of reality that stays with me 24/7. I cannot detach myself from the news.

Yes, there is going to be a political cost. No wonder then that politicians of all colours were out and about trying to show that they care about what is happening and trying to at least pretend that they have some kind of leadership when somebody else has been doing the real job of helping those affected by the floods. At the end of the day, we know that it will be up to ordinary people to try to sort out the mess, one day at a time.

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