PM Gordon Brown and bad floods in the UK

NPR this morning had a British political commentator who said that, although some had thought the recent severe flooding might become “Brown’s Katrina,” he’s impressed most Brits with his handling of the crisis. What has he done, exactly?

Pledged around £14 million in Government aid. I’d hardly say he’s impressed most Brits either - Yorkshire had been underwater for a week before anything was done. The flooding in the north is now pretty much forgotten.

Whether he did it or not the response in general seems like it was pretty well handled.

Very quickly after the floods hit there was a lot of rescue work going on. The RAF mobilised very quickly and carried out their biggest peacetime operation. Water was made available to the 300,000 to 500,000 people with clean water quite quickly. Companies both gave and transported water in areas as well as government agencies.

The Politicians also made themselves seen soon after. All in all it was a very well handled emergency. There will be obviously some people/areas that feel through the cracks but overall everybody seems pretty content with how the new government stood up to its first major test.

Yes, but this same government cut £14 million from the Environment Agency budget last year. This prompted some cuts in flood defence plans. Furthermore, according to The Sunday Times, before he became PM he was planning to make further reductions in the flood defence budget later this year.

He basically let the relevant authorities and the Ministers responsible get on with it. I get the feeling that Blair would have been on the telly emoting rather a lot, to little purpose.

As an aside, the main opposition leader David Cameron of the Conservatives (whose constituency was one of those affected) decided to honour a commitment to go to Rwanda instead of remaining. This has drawn flack from some quarters, not least from some of his party’s staunchest media supporters. I’d say that politically Brown has came out of this ahead.

He refrained from taking control away from people that actually know what they were doing.

Oh yeah, he was actually in the country at the time which is a plus.

I really dislike the media’s use of ‘England’s Katrina’ (and ‘England’s 9/11’ when the underground was bombed). It cheapens both sides of the comparison.

Agree with Mangetout… overall 6 people died in the floods, so it’s hardly on the same scale.

And two of those were overcome by carbon monoxide from a petrol-driven pump they were using in an enclosed space, which goes down as a tragic accident.

Extra funding has been made available to schools for repairs prior to September, and there has been (as noted) a well-implemented operation to provide clean water.

A number of key power sub-stations were saved through close work with army, police and fire services… exactly the type of joined-up effort that was missing in New Orleans, and which we’re constantly told is impossible in modern Britain.

A lot of people are out of pocket, but that’s what home insurance is for. However, anyone flooded has been able to access clean, warm and safe temporary accommodation (cf. Superdome).

It might be hydrogen sulphide or methane from decaying vegetable matter in the cellar. There are dangers in entering and pumping flooded compartments - at work they would have had us ventilate it with a blower and monitor it constantly with a gas detector.

Give Brown a chance, he wasn’t even PM until the end of June and one of his first cabinet discussions was how to manage the flooding in the north.

Yes, and I think there’s a tendency for people to ‘play up’ to an exaggerated description of something unpleasant - if you break your toe and someone just asks “what did it feel like?”, you’ll probably give a more factual and accurate answer than if they say “Oh, poor you! - it must have been the worst pain imaginable! Tell me about it!”.

That’s not to trivialise the inconvenience, discomfort, damage and disruption caused by these floods, it’s just that I think that when it’s compared to Katrina, people can’t be honest and say “well, actually it’s nowhere near that bad”, without risking it sounding like “it’s not bad at all - we don’t need any help”.

I heard this quoted on the radio myself; but surely the Berlin Airlift was much bigger, even the UK portion, and that was postwar and thus ‘peacetime’ wasn’t it? I don’t recall the recent quote being qualified by ‘in the UK’ or similar.

I must say, as well, that although I followed the news reasonably closely, I don’t recall the use of the phrase ‘England’s (or Britain’s, whatever) Katrina’ or that it was compared to 9/11.

I think what it meant is that it was the biggest helicopter rescue mission in peacetime.

Ah, that sounds more likely.