The recent storms have forced Matt Bugler to evacuate his house and spend the last couple of weeks in a hotel. He argues that we have been abusing the country’s resources for years and only dramatic action will limit the extent of future flood misery.
I’ve not always had the best luck with water, be it rainfall or otherwise. A couple of weeks ago I had a scare when I spilt a glass of water on my laptop and lost the use of my keyboard (thankfully restored two days later minus the function of the ‘delete’ key). Moreover, on the same day I returned home from an Arena outing to discover droplets coming down off my ceiling. Too tired/ drunk to do anything, I flopped into bed, unaware of what was to follow.
I woke up a couple of hours later to the unmistakeable sound of heavy rain. Not outside, but inside. The source of the rain was unclear at first, but on examination I found it to be coming through my wardrobe. Looking up, I saw that a whole tile had been blown off, leaving the sky and all its products streaming through into my abode. My clothes were sodden and I had to bring home my entire wardrobe to be washed.
I fled the house like a drowned rat deserting a sinking ship. Going home for a few days was a temporary respite, the prologue to a twisting saga of betrayal, legal threats and abuse of the free hotel cream crackers. I’ve spent the last week and a half in the Jurys Inn, enjoying the wholesome breakfast, ensuite bathroom and central heating, but not so much the ennui of living a nomadic existence like Bill Murray in Lost in Translation.
The whole affair has taught me a lot about my landlord and lettings agent, and how important it is for students not to accept sub-par treatment from them. The roof in my house, which fully collapsed two days later, was exposed as having no insulation, solving the riddle of why it had been so cold for a year and a half. It also explained the ubiquitous smell of damp in the house, which the agent tried to blame on us for ‘leaving wet towels around’.
I’ve been fortunate to call on the expertise of my lawyer dad, but have equally needed the support of my housemates, in refusing to move back in to uninhabitable conditions. I was told that it was ok to move in on Monday (17th) but a brief glance allowed me to see that a sleeping bag outside Sidwell Street Sainsbury’s would have been almost preferable.
The floor was bare and littered with loose nails, plaster was everywhere, including on some of my possessions, there were no curtains in place and the dust in the air was so thick that I struggled to breath.
I am eager to move back in with my housemates as soon as possible and put an end to the surreal experience of not really having a stable home. The rain coming through my roof was a stark obliteration of my idea of the home as a haven from outside. What was once an impenetrable fortress is now a simple structure of bricks and plaster doing its best to keep out nature’s powers. This loss of innocence is appropriate for my final few months at uni, as I will soon have to leave the nest once and for all.
After those self-indulged ramblings, a far more important issue is at stake: climate change. The evidence in the last few weeks is unavoidable; even more so in other areas such as Cornwall, Wales and the Thames surroundings. My problem pales in comparison to the thousands of people without homes or with damaged homes which will take months to repair. This is the second year in a row that storms have ravished the country, and it is a sobering thought that it will almost certainly not be the last.
The simple fact is that Britain is not adequately prepared to deal with severe weather conditions, and this issue runs far deeper than the lack of government flood defences. We have been abusing the country’s resources for years and only dramatic action will limit the extent of future flood misery. Avoiding the problem by shutting yourself indoors is not an option.
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