Ribble Valley MP Nigel Evans witnesses the destructive flooding of our villages and pays tribute to the many people who helped during the crisis
Emergencies like flooding show me two things. Firstly, the destructive nature of floods brutally causes chaos to people in such an indiscriminate way. Lifetime memories can be obliterated in minutes as the flood waters rise and wreak their havoc on ordinary folk just getting through their lives in the best way they can.
Secondly it demonstrates the incredible community spirit of people who help others facing these horrific incidents. I witnessed this as flood waters invaded over 100 Ribble Valley homes and for some, it was the second time in four years. It was soul destroying to see the damage wrought but heartening to witness first-hand the rapid response of heroic individuals who go the extra mile. I won’t name individuals here, but those affected know who they are. In some cases these people have left their own jobs to help those in need and organise the filling of sandbags to help protect homes from further flooding.
I pay tribute to those who I saw – the Environment Agency, the utilities and those working from the local authorities and I saw how quickly the road through Whalley was turned around from a wet and muddy thoroughfare to pristine condition. I want to pay an extra tribute though to the charities, individuals, organisations and commercial firms that have helped with accommodation, money, physical help and food. It is moving to see love counter the torrent of water. I salute our heroes – everyone.
Back in Parliament statements have been made on the flooding and the Government held to account. MPs questioned what the Government’s response has been, but the equally interesting aspect is planning long term flood defences and protecting people’s properties in the future.
I briefly want to mention a few other things that have been attracting my attention this month. I held the new £20 note, and I have to say it is a huge improvement on the current note. It is slightly smaller but has many anti-fraud elements. It is a smart clean note to follow in the wake of the other new notes, and it even has the braille addition to help those affected by sight loss. I hope they get on with the £50 note soon as many retailers just will not accept them due to the number that have been fraudulently produced.
I met representatives of the RNIB, who do an incredible job in raising awareness of the simple things that we can all do to help those with sight loss lead near normal lives. One thing is signage on pavements which can be a huge impediment to blind or partially sighted people. I do hope that all businesses think about whether their activities are hampering the safety of others.
Finally, I got to celebrate 25 years of the National Lottery. The cake was delicious but the icing on the cake is really those organisations who have benefited from lottery grants. I admit to the odd lottery flutter myself, but apart from the occasional trumpeting e-mails heralding my success in the draw, my excitement is quickly tempered when I see the good news amounts to £2.30 or thereabouts! At least my losses have meant gains for others and long may the lottery deliver for future generations.