It is amazing how in early December, you wouldn’t read any flood news at all – the next week, and ever since, it is almost all that is in the news and our twitter feeds are awash with alerts, warnings and heartbreaking stories from those affected. The floods that affected the UK after Storm Desmond (a name that would grace a character from any U.S. law drama), have tested the resiliency of some areas to the absolute limit, sometimes beyond.
What happens at the moment
When there is a forecast for heavy rain for any area in the UK then a resiliency team is usually activated who will try to work out which areas may be affected and deploy resources accordingly. Usually this is done on the basis of local expertise and known trouble spots.
The problem at the planning stage is that the forecast for rainfall is not particularly granular and the effects of localised rainfall on a particularly area is not usually well known. This can lead to poor planning decisions being made, not through any fault of the operators but because there are too many variables.
At the service delivery stage it is often a case of first come first served. At best case, some of the resources are diverted to known break points which are likely to be at severe risk. In the worst case, essential resources are deployed in inappropriate locations where those resources have little chance of making an incremental improvement in the outcomes for those affected.