Floodline is a service provided by the Environment Agency to inform residents about their flood risk, and to warn them about incipient floods. Recently, a rather dramatic commercial was released to draw attention to this service:
Earlier Floodline commercials are a bit less dramatic, and more funny, like this one…
… or this one:
The Floodline certainly provides valuable service. But, judging from the experiences of Gloucestershire floodplain residents, it is not the ultimate answer to all their flood-related problems. Many have had numerous false alarms in the past, being woken up by automated calls in the middle of the night. Some of them were very distressed by the calls; others had enough local knowledge to see that they were not about to flood by looking into their back garden or onto the river. Still others remember receiving a call from the service when they were already flooded, somewhat late for a ‘warning’. This has made many residents rather cynical concerning the Floodline.
Nevertheless, the service is being improved continually, and so are the models and scales the warnings are based on. Alongside this, perhaps an awareness is growing that such large-scale schemes work best when integrated with local memories and knowledge, rather than set apart from them. Furthermore, no one should have to rely on the Floodline alone, but also talk to neighbours, the local flood warden, and other people with flood experience.
The Floodline can be an expedient tool – if used properly and not at the expense of keeping an eye on our dry and wet environments.