David Sallon 24 February 2014

Preparing for the floods

Councils have been successfully protecting their local communities for hundreds of years – long before governments took control of their activities. There’s nothing wrong in ministries offering advice and financial aid whenever necessary, especially in such cases as droughts, diseases, riots and a myriad of exceptional circumstances including floods.

They can bring in manpower such as the army and specialist advisers to assist, but it seems that the councils have now been so dependent upon their big brothers that they are unable to act on their own initiative.

The floods that have been plaguing the country for the last few weeks were anticipated many weeks before, yet no preparations were considered for any serious consequences by either the councils or even the communities that they represent.

Hardly a year has passed when water shortages have forced the population to stop using hoses or wash their cars, and this is invariably due to the leakages in drains and inadequate communal water storage facilities during the rainy periods, and it is not beyond our imagination that a hot summer will soon forget our current flooding problems.

Suddenly sand bags have become nuggets of gold dust. They are even being sold on the black market. Thousands of professional soldiers have been seconded to fill sand bags and transport them to already flooded areas that needed them before the floods, not after. They look good in the media and the government can claim that they are doing their bit, but it is to no avail for these thousands of sand bags, dumped in massive puddles, will do now nothing to stop the water flowing into people’s houses or warehouses.

Of course then there is the problem of disposing thousands of sand bags after use, which will have now become toxic and should not even go to land fill after use. Extensive and costly transport will be required to get rid of them.

There are many facilities that would’ve assisted the councils’ anticipated floods. Dredging the rivers, secondary water channels, a wide variety of flood gates that are now available and are easy to fix to front doors. The soldiers can then be found far more constructive jobs rather than fill and deliver sand bags.

So, you say, the councils have no money. However, it is not only money that is needed in emergency situations, it is leadership and creative thinking. Working with local communities to anticipate a problem will generate not only good will, but can raise monies.

David Sallon is CEO of Gravitas International, which manufactures the Hydrosack and Hydrosnake products.

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