Archive for the ‘Deerhurst’ Category

Parish website publishes a section on flood history   Leave a comment

The recently created website of the Gloucestershire parish of Apperley and Deerhurst features a page on the 1947 and 2007 floods, both of which strongly affected Deerhurst village.

Among a collection of photographs from 1947, the website states:

Residents of Deerhurst were used to the River Severn flooding, but the high flood levels of March 1947 took everyone by surprise.  Many people had to be rescued from their houses by boat. […]

Following the floods of 1947, Deerhurst village had built earth and stank defences around the village to the height of the 1947 floods. […]

In 2007, following a torrential rainfall resulting in unprecedented flooding in Gloucestershire, these defences were over-topped for a short while and the houses were again flooded.  The Environment Agency, who had assumed the former STWA duties, spent well over £0.5 million upgrading and expanding the defences in 2007 to 2009, to the extent that they are now about two feet higher than the 2007 flood level.

This account makes flooding part of the ‘public’ history of the parish. It thereby goes beyond the taboo of openly talking about flood histories, for instance due to anxieties regarding the real estate market or the insurance industry.

However, the short text tells a very particular version of the story that – without contradicting any of the accounts from other villagers – leaves out a lot of information that seems important to others. For instance, it mentions the funding from the Environment Agency for the construction of the improved flood defences, but does not mention the ingenious efforts of the villagers to plan the defences and secure this funding.

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“To be able to walk away and come back fresh — I would recommend that people do that.”   Leave a comment

This recommendation comes from a woman who had moved to the village of Deerhurst only ten days before it flooded in July 2007. Like many fellow villagers, she and her family were eventually accommodated outside the flood-damaged village, taking a step back from the deserted devastation of Deerhurst.

Some people stayed behind, though, like a couple of neighbours.

The neighbours across the road had a mobile home on their drive, and it must have been very de-moralising for them because the renovation was so slow.

She describes this period as being ‘very intense’, and as testing relationships. These sorts of stories are common across the affected areas, with some people not moving back to their homes until 18-24 months after the flood.  The quote in the title of this post illustrates how bleak the aftermath of the flood was for many, and how lucky the interviewee and her family felt to be able to escape this difficult situation.

Nevertheless, unlike other villagers, this family had not yet built a strong relationship with their new home. Therefore, leaving the place and having it renovated by professional builders was perhaps easier for them than for others.

I think that it was better for us, because we hadn’t got memories of that house.

All they had to leave behind was a home that they were still in the process of moving into. And when they returned, they arrived to another new home, different in looks but not in kind. Moreover, being new to the village, the interviewee didn’t have the same false sense of security – sometimes called ‘levee syndrome’ – that  other residents had. ‘Levee syndrome’ describes a condition in which  the presence of safety measures  decreases risk awareness and leads to a lack of preparation and a liberal attitude towards the hazard (See definition in Disaster Resilience: An Integrated Approach, by D, Paton and D, Johnston, published in 2006, p. 111). In Deerhurst, the flood wall and gates that surround the village and had held off floods for sixty years made most villagers believe that the rising water levels could not harm their properties. Whilst this interviewee was moving some of her belongings upstairs, many established residents of the village still believed the flood wall would hold. She had an understanding of the power of water because of her rowing experience which made her critical of her new neighbours’ trust in the flood wall.

We didn’t trust everyone saying that it won’t flood. We didn’t trust that because we had only moved in 10 days before so we weren’t confident to trust that. […]. And then it rained and it rained and rained and we watched the waters come up. Walking out to the boundary of the wall of the church looking over the fields out there and you could see the river coming higher and higher. The flood gates were closed and the locals were going round all nice and confident. […]We were apprehensive whether it was going to flood or not and even though everybody was saying it was going to be fine we decided we needed to shift everything upstairs. So we moved our stuff as early as soon as possible. Our neighbours didn’t seem to be in that position like ours; they would be trusting that it wasn’t going to flood.

Although their recent arrival on the floodplain had made them less susceptible to the ‘levee syndrome’, the woman now regrets some of the ways the family reacted to the floods. Most evidently she is unhappy about having been separated from her children when she returned to the flood-damaged house to salvage what could still be used.

We left the children with the grandparents; we thought they would be too disruptive to be… In retrospect they wanted to be with us and it would have been better if they were with us. They were too young.

In spite of these painful memories of the floods, the interviewee is keen to remember them. For instance she has pictures of the floods on the walls of her home. As she was not in the village during the floods herself, she has collected these photographs from fellow villagers. One particularly iconic image is the one below, showing the flooded telephone box of the village (Bear in mind the box is already raised by about a foot, standing on a bank on the roadside).

I think it’s quite iconic, the picture of the telephone box because if you stand on the road next to the telephone box and you can see how high the flood was. It is a part of history; it did happen. We’re not negative about it all.

                                                                               

What this account explores includes:

  • The importance of photographs in maintaining and sharing memories.

  • The intense nature of emotions during reconstruction after the flood.

  • The phenomenon of the ‘levee syndrome’ and the false sense of security that flood defences can instil on residents of areas with flood risk.

  • The relations of newcomer residents with their flooded home, as opposed to those of longer-term residents whose home is damaged by floods.

“But we’re still here to tell the story. Which is the main thing.”   Leave a comment

In the floodplain village of Deerhurst, the village Flood Warden and his wife remember many floods. All but one of them they had been able to fend off with the ancient and continually improved flood defences around the village. One of the responsibilities of the Flood Warden was to close the gap in the flood bank where the road enters the village. Until recently, this was achieved by temporally constructing so-called ‘stanks’ across the road, which were made from wooden planks and clay.

We’d got the stanks […], which block the road at the end of the village.  They call them stanks. They effectively, […] are two lots of boards put together, about a foot apart, built up.  […]  We used to have to put those in with the neighbour who lived next door then, who was quite old so physically he knew what to do but he wasn’t strong enough, so with a few other people we used to have to ram them with clay effectively.  Ram them with clay and build them up according to the floods we were going to get or were getting.  Besides that, we didn’t really worry too much.

Flood Warden showing the slots (now filled in) where formerly the 'stanks' were inserted

The Flood warden has not always been an expert in flooding issues. From being a newcomer to the village and the floodplain about 50 years ago, he slowly grew into his role.

We got married in 1968. We moved here. […] We lived in a caravan for about twelve months, while I… because I was in the building trade, so I developed this. It was only a little cottage at the time when we bought it. We had really no idea what floods were about at all. Whatsoever, we had no indication. Really very naïve about the whole thing, I suppose, if we look back at it in that respect. But we survived. […]

We had floods, I can’t remember the first flood I’d ever seen but it was a year or two after we moved in, but they were what we call river floods so they didn’t really affect the village very much, only possibly the road down on the corner which always seemed to get flooded.  We used to have to leave our cars out and have to trample up the road there because we didn’t have very, we had pumps in those days but they weren’t very efficient to be honest.

The first big flood we’d seen probably was 1980/1981 when it flooded.  It wasn’t massively deep but once the stanks are put up either end of the village, any kind of water we get, rainwater we get after that, because it can’t get out if you understand, so it built up in 1980 because we had a lot of snow and rain around 1980 Christmas time, which flooded the road […].

The next really big one was in 2000 and that was the biggest one we’d ever seen.  We kept it out that year but the banks have been upgraded twice since we’ve been here.  They were upgraded in about mid-to-late 70s, they were upgraded because somebody lived round the corner, worked for Dowtys who were shifting an awful lot of soil out of a job in Tewkesbury and offered us the soil and the machinery to grade it all up and put it in the right condition and so that kept us in good stead, that raised the bank quite a bit.

He learned about the stanks technique from a neighbour, who used to put them in place before, but was getting too old to do the work.

We obviously chatted over the fence about one or two things and he kept all the flood boards, you could call them, in his shed over there so I had to go there to get them and he would tell us what to do but physically, as I say, he couldn’t do it himself, and that’s how we came to know him really.

Almost as responsible a job as putting the stanks up was to take them down at the right moment to allow traffic to flow in and out of the village again.

I basically got down to the nitty gritty of going up there and shovelling the clay. […] Because I’m a builder and I work for myself I could come back at any time if I wanted to […].  The old chap behind was a bit too old by then. […] I don’t know if they had an official name in those days, and then the lady over the road suddenly came out with a tee-shirt for me with ‘Flood Warden’ written on the back, so that’s how I got the name. […] It would have been back in the ‘70s, late 70s.  I can’t remember exactly when it was.  So I was always nicknamed the flood warden.  I mean to be fair I always used to go out there and put them up.  The worst thing about putting them up… You obviously put them up to save your properties.  But when it comes to taking them down, they could be up there for a week, 2 weeks or 3 weeks or however long the water hangs around, but when it came to take them down, by then people used to get up there and walk along in between the planks and of course the clay used to get rammed harder and harder and harder. Then when you came to take it out, if it had been there for 3 or 4 weeks, it takes some shifting. […] So I had to be kind of available to take them down at the earliest convenience really.  That’s how I got the flood warden job […].

Together with a few other villagers, the Flood Warden learned how to gauge when it was time for putting up the stanks.

We used to mix together, there’s a farmer […] down at the church, and there’s another farmer up here, it was his dad then in those days, he’s now retired.  Between us we used to, a couple of telephone calls, ‘yes we need to put the stanks up, blahdeblah.’ If you come up over the back of Barrow Wood, which I’ll show you if we go up just now, we could always reckon we’d got 12-hours before we put the first stank board up. […]

You stand up there and you could see it coming over the back of Barrow Wood.  You could see it coming over the river bank from our bedroom windows.  You can’t now but you could when we first came here. […]  We’ve got garages and all built at the back which they didn’t have originally, so you could stand in our bedroom, or any of the bedrooms if it came to that, and you could see it, but it particularly came over at Barrow Wood and it used to work its way up, which is probably a couple of miles at the most, but you can tell when you need, if it’s say 9 o’clock at night and it was just starting to come round you could think well we don’t need to put one up until tomorrow morning.  You could gauge roughly how long to allow.  Sometimes you were wrong but we never got caught out really, not seriously caught out anyway.

This system worked well for many decades. In July 2007, the flood defences that had been successful since 1947 were surpassed by the flood waters, and almost all of the village’s buildings were flooded. As the water was rising around the flood bank, the villagers put on a unique effort of communal action, raising the banks in places and building additional defences. Eventually, however, the water broke through.

Because the water effectively comes right round the back and it came down that road that you came down and it washed that dirt all away and that was it.  We were then sat in water this deep in here (points to his chest). […] It was close on 5-feet.

Telephone box, Deerhurst, 2007 flood

After spending the first night of the floods upstairs in their house – together with a friend from a neighbouring village who had come to help – they had to be evacuated by boat the next day. First thing in the morning, however, they were visited by two neighbours:

He:         We were upstairs on the Monday morning, and about 7 o’clock there was a knock on the window up there and [… two villagers from the other side of the village], they were up here, I can picture the boat being up here anyway (pointing to the window), they were knocking on our bedroom window to see if we wanted tea or coffee.

She:       They had a flask of each, very good, and a packet of biscuits and they hooked it up on the oar and we took it in from the landing window so we could have a drink.

As has been the case in many flooded communities, the flooding itself is not being remembered as such a traumatic phase as the aftermath of the flooding. One of the difficulties for the Flood Warden and his wife was the amount of things they had to get rid of because all that had been in contact with water was considered ‘contaminated’. What is more, the ‘contaminated’ items had to be stored in the back yard for a while, until the loss assessors had found time to look at them. In one of the photographs that the family keeps, the heap of furniture, carpets and other debris in their back yard looks almost like a monument to the flood, to the loss.

Backyard with 'contaminated' debris - a monument to loss

She:       Then you had to leave it there for the assessors to come and look.  That was the worst part.

He:         You couldn’t get rid of that (furniture) until the assessors had come to see it.

She:       Making sure that it was the value, I had to itemise everything, from teaspoons, well everything.  It’s a bit of a nightmare that.  […]

He:         Well we ripped out all the floors, that was a wooden floor in there, carpet in the front room so all that went.  These were tiled.  They had to come up according to the insurance company because they were contaminated. […]     All the plaster off…

She:       It was all to do with being contaminated.

He:         So if they were damp they had to go, effectively. […]  They would have been usable, a lot of it, and certainly the floors would have been.

She:       In the olden days before Health & Safety and all the rest of the stuff, you’d have swept, washed it all out, and carried on.

He:         Yes so we re-plastered all the downstairs.  This is a new floor, new kitchen which is not finished as you can see.  Everything downstairs is virtually new. […] I’ve never seen so many skip lorries in my life in a small village.  They were in and out every day, skip lorry after skip lorry. That was one of the things which I do remember.  Because there was so much good stuff going out of this village to the skips, unbelievable. […] Stuff you were still using.  Now, because it was contaminated everybody said the insurance companies said it had to go.  It was the worst mistake we all made really, was chucking stuff away which could have been reusable.  A lot of it.  There were skip lorries by the load.

She:       I mean we still go and look for something now and think. ‘oh no, we haven’t got it now.’ You know, even now.  […]

He:         Because it had been contaminated, it sounds an awful bad name as though it’s kind of unliveable, but it wasn’t.  It was crazy really.  […] Well it’s the upheaval of it, you’re talking about a whole year, 12-months, you know, it’s a big upheaval, plus you’ve got to replace everything.  When you get older it’s not so easy to go and get a new 3-piece suite and a new television, you know.  I mean if you get new things from time to time when you want them then it’s not a problem but you try and go and get everything, well we had nothing in our house because it was all gone on the skip.  It’s a big upheaval.

In spite of the loss and ‘upheaval’, the couple maintains some positive memories of the floods.

He:         But if you look there’s an awful lot of people live, well not only this river but other rivers in the whole wide world, if you live close to the river sometime in your life, you can be lucky or unlucky. In many ways for us it was lucky because a) I got a lot of work out of it and b) it enabled us through the insurance get a lot better furniture than we usually had.  You can look it whichever way you like really.

Interviewer:       But you also had a lot of trouble.

He:         Yes we had a lot of fuss, a lot of upheaval, yes.

She:       A lot of heartache.  We lost a lot of things that can’t be replaced like family photos.  Our sons growing up years, childhood, school photos, it’s all gone.

He:         We didn’t think it was going to get, we put everything that we thought was valuable kind of thing above worktop height thinking it won’t get above that, but we were a bit naïve about that really.

She:       We thought we’d be paddling in it the next morning but nothing more.

He:         But we’re still here to tell the story.

She:       Which is the main thing.  Some people lost their lives and we’re still walking about, so.

The couple also reckons the 2007 flood triggered enough community action and interest within the Environment Agency to greatly improve the village’s flood defences.

The positive thing was when they formed a Deerhurst Flood Group Protection Society Committee. As soon as the 2007 flood was over, they formed the Deerhurst Preservation Flood Committee they called it.  That’s one good thing that’s come out of it […] that they could then challenge and go to insurance companies and blahdeblah and do everything on a bigger scale because it was a village thing, not just individual people going to insurance companies and try and get their insurance back and what have you.  So that helped.

Now that the new flood defences are built, the question arises whether villagers will remember floods, flood risk, and the fact that they live on a flood plain. The Flood Warden thinks that the 2007 floods will be remembered as the new benchmark in the area, just as the 1947 floods had been before.

I didn’t see the floods themselves […] a) because I didn’t live here and b) because I was too young, but they always refer back, ‘oh the floods that we had up to 2007.’ Even in 2000, which was the biggest flood I’d seen since we’ve been here, ‘oh it wasn’t as big as 1947.’ Everyone said it wasn’t as big as 1947 but they can’t say that after 2007 because 2007 outdid 1947 by something like 12-inches I reckon, which is a lot of water round here.  […] Now we’d only talk about 2007 if we started to get anywhere a flood again and then people would refer back to 2007.

Rain and river thus seem to remind villagers of the floods, in spite of the flood wall surrounding them. Moreover, people sometimes tell stories of the floods, funny ones in particular.

She:       There are lots of funny stories.

He:         You have to look at it on the funny side of it otherwise.

She:       You’d have been stressed wouldn’t you, losing everything.

Other ways of remembering the floods are more contested. Some people, for instance, suggested exhibiting images of the floods and the works towards the improved flood defences during a biannual village festival, which met opposition by others who argued that this festival was about flowers, not about floods.

Funnily enough, we have a church flower festival here every two years. […] Our friend next door, he’s the Chairman of the Flood Prevention Committee, and […] he produced several big images, photographs on big boards and wanted to put them in the churchyard two years or 18 months ago when the last flower festival was on, but he was turned down by the committee.  I won’t go into the details but he was allowed a small portion in a tent but he wanted to let everybody see, all the visitors, because they get up to 3,000 to 4,000 because it’s over 3 days, and he wanted everybody to see what the situation had been like. […] Well one or two people, as I say it was a bit political, but they were running the actual flower festival and thought it was a flower festival and not an advert for showing off photographs of the flood.  He did have them, I’m sure he’s still got them, but he wasn’t allowed, he put a few up but not as many as he wanted.

Nevertheless, the couple holds that even under these circumstances, memories of the floods will stay alive in their family and their village.

She:       I don’t think you can [forget] that really because it happened didn’t it?  We went through it.

He:         If we’d have felt really peed off with it or whatever we wouldn’t be here today would we.

She:       We’d have all left and gone.  Can’t live there again and all that.

He:         I don’t think you can say, we obviously don’t want to see one again really but we’re willing to take that chance really.

Interviewer:       Yes, and you think the memories that you gathered during that time are worthwhile preserving?

He:         Oh definitely, it’s a big part of our life.

She:       It is now. […]

He:         Our children will never forget that, never.  Even our grandchildren, who were quite small at the time really, even they say about the ‘great flood Nana’, but they didn’t really see it. […]They’ve seen the photographs and all that, but that really isn’t registering them but they know about it and they won’t forget it.

Interviewer:       So they’ve seen the photographs and they’ve heard stories, so in the family it’s passed on?

He:         Yes, very much.  You can be certain of that, because I mean until this happened everybody talked about 1947.  It’s all people every talked about the floods was the 1947, which we never saw as I said before.  So they’ll always talk about 2007 now, won’t they?

Interviewer:       I wonder whether there will be a way that, say, your children or grandchildren will know what to do.  That you take your stuff upstairs just in case, without them necessarily having been through that themselves.

She:       You just tell them of your own experiences, don’t you?

He:         [Our son …] was interested in buying that place which was outside the flood bank, I didn’t go into any details but I mean he hasn’t bought it, but the flood never worried him.  He wasn’t worried about the flood part of it.  He’s lived here so he knew if he bought that, what he was walking into as regards floods. […] Yes, they’ve all been through the floods.  He loved it when you have to put the first board up.

She:       Yes, especially if there’s a bit of water this side and they could go on their bikes through it.  Childhood stuff obviously.

This interview speaks to many different themes in the context of our project. They include:

Communities: How does remembering floods – differently by different parts of the community – become negotiated and developed or side-lined?

Material memories: How does completely new furniture and interior decoration of one’s home affect people’s memories of the floods?

‘Levee Syndrome’: Does living with massive flood protection infrastructure make people remember or forget floods and flood risk?

Local flood knowledge: How do newcomers to the floodplain learn about living with floods? In what respect is that different today compared to the 1960s and 1970s?

“The EA want to take over the responsibility and we resisted that very vigorously really”   Leave a comment

This quote comes from a ‘semi-retired’ farmer from Deerhurst, explaining the flood defence scheme that the village, in collaboration with the Environment Agency (EA), had upgraded extensively after the 2007 floods. After the levee surrounding the lower end of the village had been heightened and a number of improved flood gates had been installed, the question arose of who should be responsible for operating these gates. The villagers wanted to retain the responsibility of managing the gates, as they felt better qualified to do so than the EA,

because we know when they want closing and the EA don’t. And in 2007, after the 2007 flood peaked, the EA rang up and said ‘are the gates shut?’ (laughs) So, you know, we want… And no way are we going to worry about getting them shut, if we’ve got our own, you know. And also the EA, once the floods do come they are so busy upstream getting various gates and things shut that I think it wouldn’t be a very reliable situation, so we’ve made it plain that we want responsibility to shut it.

The village, being located on the floodplain and close to the river, has a long history of flooding, and also of flood defences. In the past decades, however, their flood defences had kept the waters out of the village. Many villagers were confident that this would be the same in 2007, and were caught by surprise when it wasn’t.

I don’t think any of us realised it was going to be as big as it was until is started coming in at quite a fast rate. And then we realised the water outside the banks was higher, and we knew that we were coming up to the same level as the water outside really, and my son was busy, well the whole family here were pretty busy helping down in the village; and a lot of the villagers ‘said what about your own house?’  I said, ‘oh we never get flooded, we’re right up at the top of the bank, we never get flooded so there’s no need to worry about us,’ and then suddenly we realised our own house was getting flooded, but by then a lot of the people down the village were helping down there and it was too late to save anything and so quite a few of them came up here to help us.  It was very community spirited.

Throughout the interview, the farmer emphasises how the community stuck together, both during the flood and when dealing with its aftermath.

we’re a very close-knit community here, there are only 20 houses in the village and we all know each other and we know who is old and who is vulnerable and all the rest of it and our first priority really was to go round and just warn people there was going to be trouble, and you start thinking of rations and this sort of thing. Then as the water started coming into the village all the fit people went round the village and just called into the houses to see if they were happy, and as it got more and more serious we went in and said that you must get out of the village before the problem starts.  The older and vulnerable ones were the ones who were reluctant to move and they said, ‘oh no, we’re all right, we’ve experience it before, we’ll move upstairs,’ and we started moving a lot of the furniture upstairs.  You know, there were quite a lot of us here and quite a lot of the younger, fitter people were moving stuff upstairs and helping other people.

What seemed to have helped was that the village acts like a community not only in times of emergency, but also in calmer times. Presumably, this facilitated communication, mutual help, and a quick response during the flood.

I think we are a very close community.  When there are charity things, and particularly the church, it’s a very famous church here and 20 households can’t keep it maintained obviously. And we have major fundraising events, the whole community gets together, even if they’re non-church-goers, get together and support the whole event really.  The major things are our Flower Festival which we have every other year, and that of course is an event where we decorate the whole church with flower arrangements and we have various stalls and things and the whole village helps then, not only Deerhurst but the next village as well, Apperley, which is in the same Parish but different village, and they’re all tremendous and will come and help.

In this kind of social environment, the villagers were able to very quickly form a flood committee after the floods, planning and securing funding for the improvement of their physical flood defences.

We were already existing with a pretty good set-up really, and then after the 2007 flood it was realised by the village that the flood defences wanted making much higher and much stronger. And so this sub-committee was formed of 5 of us I think, and we then started making plans to get grants to fund the situation and put great pressure on the EA to help and do something about it, and there were also flood relief funds available.  […] And we were very enthusiastic too.  We had some very enthusiastic members.  We had a local solicitor, we had a civil engineer living in the village, so we had quite a powerful committee really.

Flood defences in Deerhurst have a long history, probably going back to Medieval times, when a Benedictine monastery had been located there. Existing flood walls had been gradually improved, for instance in the 1970s, purely by villagers’ efforts. Therefore, the 2007 flood exceeding the flood wall came as a major shock to many.

I think we were feeling pretty confident and we were sympathetic to the people who were getting flooded farther up the river who hadn’t got defences like we had got. And Upton-on-Severn is another one, you know where they are roughly, upstream anyway, they got extremely flooded, and all the sympathy was there, saying ‘poor things’ and feeling quite confident ourselves.

The farmer maintains that remembering floods is important for living in a place like Deerhurst, on the floodplain.

I think the big advantage is really experience, and the next generation experiencing what could be a problem in the future.  My thought is that this is the third flood bank put, and year after year it seems to want making higher, so obviously the flooding situation is over the years getting worse and I think experiences from the previous floods is quite a benefit for the next generation to understand.  And I think for instance, my son has got a pretty good knowledge now of what should be done and when the gates should be closed.  We’ve now got gates instead of the old-fashioned boards that we used to put up.  The gates have to be shut and you have to have a certain amount of knowledge as to when you shut them.

He says that although ‘we’re getting back to normal, […] we still do discuss it obviously.’ One danger he sees for maintaining memories of the flood is that it may not come up in conversation as much, as time goes by. Nevertheless:

I think people visiting us, friends ask questions about the floods and off you go again.  The other danger I think is that people don’t stay in the communities for very long now, whereas in 1947 they were all employed locally and they lived there all their lives in the village.  Now, every 5-10 years people have a job somewhere else and they move out and then of course the stories get lost perhaps, so much.  People like the oldies like myself, you know, are probably the only ones who remember 1947 for instance, but the 2007 flood there’s going to be a lot of photographic evidence and a lot of articles written.  It’s all written so much better than it was in 1947.  That evidence will reinforce some of the verbal evidence of people, I think.

[…] And even now, if a house is put up for sale you have to declare that it is in a flooded area.  We’ve got two houses on the market now and actually on the brochure of the sale it says ‘liable to flooding’.  You’ve got to declare it now legally, and one or two people have been interested in buying the property have been talking to me about it.  I had somebody last night talking about it.

When asked what role the River Severn itself plays in remembering the 2007 floods around Deerhurst, the farmer explains:

The way it comes up and down, and when it starts to come up and you say ‘oh no, it’s not like it was before’, and then it brings back the memories of what we had, and the village will talk about it.  If the river is coming up and the floods come out, I get quite a lot of people ringing me up and saying ‘what advice? Do I need to get the car out?’ or whatever.

The issues that this interview raises in terms of the research project include:

(1)    What is the relation between (successful) flood defences and flood memories? Do functional levees make people forget their flood experience, so that once the levees fail they are hit even harder?

(2)    What is the most adequate way of sharing responsibility between communities and formal institutions?

(3)    What are the relations between a community’s resilience to floods and general community life? And how is communal memory implicated in this relationship?