Monday, 9 July 2012

44 years ago - The Great Chew Flood

We have had an inordinate amount of rain this Summer - albeit the rivers have needed it following two consecutive, dry winters. But these usually gentle streams have swollen and the risk of flooded property continues to be very high. Indeed, the forecast is for even more rain as we work our way through this week and into next.

As I walk back from the river after teaching, guiding or when I am fishing for myself (increasingly rare!), my eyes are always drawn to a small plaque situated well above my head, on the side of a house, just a stone's throw from the stream. It marks the height of the river back in 1968 when the River Chew flooded, causing huge damage and loss of life.

The 10th & 11th July 2012 marks 44 years since this devastating flood ripped through the Chew Valley.

As so often is the case with flooding, it was a freak sequence of events that ended up with so much water crashing through these villages, just South of Bristol. With heavy rain leaving the surrounding fields already sodden, an incredible 5 inches of rain falling in just 24 hours was to cause huge destruction. Small tributaries were rapidly filled with near by lakes and reservoirs bursting their banks; the bridges increasingly blocked by the debris being carried along the water. You can only imagine how scary that must have been. Reports were of a 10 foot high, near 'tidal wave' working its way downstream.

Bridges were pulled down with the force of the water and 8 people lost their lives that day, not to mention the countless number of homes ruined.

Our thoughts are with those people who are at risk of flooding at the moment too. It's a tough and rather helpless situation to be in.

Back in March I stayed at the Trout Hotel in Cockermouth for an AAPGAI weekend. In a week when we had unusually high temperatrues and blue skies, this cracking hotel was finally back in business after being hit by the Cockermouth floods in 2009. Another reminder of the devastation such rain fall can cause.

So spare a thought for those having a hard time at the moment with the water & please take extra care during this deluge we are experiencing.


1 comment:

cofisher said...

If I remember correctly this is also the year we had a major flash flood on the Big Thompson river here in Colorado. Several lives lost and you can still see some of the scars.

Best of luck.