Extreme Weather: Flash floods Cause Chaos across Britain;
Emergency Services in meltdown; Claims to cross USD 4 billion
London, UK - 20 July 2007, 23:34 GMT
Dear ATCA Colleagues
[Please note that the views presented by individual contributors
are not necessarily representative of the views of ATCA, which is neutral.
ATCA conducts collective Socratic dialogue on global opportunities and threats.]
Torrential rain and thunderstorms struck Britain on Friday,
causing traffic chaos, forcing television stations off the air and trapping
people in homes and offices. At Heathrow Airport, Britain's busiest, more
than 140 flights were cancelled because of the rain. The torrents were the
second to hit Britain in a month. As what is already the wettest start to
the year on record got even wetter, homes flooded, rail companies cancelled
services and police reported a slew of weather-related car and truck crashes.
Some parts of the UK were drenched with three times the monthly average rainfall
in just a few hours.
Emergency services were inundated with calls from drivers trapped on flooded
roads. During the peak of the downpours -- when four inches of rain fell in
an hour -- the 999 system went into meltdown. Sweeping in from the southwest,
the rain struck first in southern and central England and Wales, disrupting
the great planned holiday getaway for thousands. Services on more than half
a dozen rail companies were severely affected and more than 20 London Underground
stations were closed due to flooding.
Around the country, homeowners reported rising floodwaters and burst sewer
mains. Electrical lines crashed, cutting off power to homes and offices. Some
of the country's TV stations went briefly off the air as transmitters went
down. Computers froze in offices. The Thames Valley was one of the worst affected
regions with dozens of homes in Swindon, Reading and Maidenhead deluged. At
least 220 homes were swamped with sewage, and Thames Valley Police declared
a "critical weather emergency."
Regional Fire and Rescue Services said they had been inundated by calls about
"incidents caused by the extreme weather conditions." Some Fire
and Rescue Services received more than 200 calls in a couple of hours. Drivers
were warned to keep their distance from other traffic as the torrential rain
caused a record spate of accidents.
With the rain clouds moving slowly north, the rain is expected to hit Scotland
and Northern Ireland late Friday and over the weekend. The UK Environment
Agency has flood warnings in place covering many parts of England and Wales.
The latest bad weather came after seven people died in floods in June and
thousands of people are still homeless after flood damage. In June floods
swamped more than 30,000 homes in the UK South West, Midlands and Yorkshire.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has already estimated that general
insurers will have to pay out a total of GBP 1.5 billion in weather-related
claims after the devastating floods of three weeks ago. With the latest bout
of flooding, the insurance claims are likely to cross GBP 2 billion, ie, USD
We look forward to your further thoughts, observations and views. Thank
For and on behalf of DK Matai, Chairman, Asymmetric Threats Contingency
ATCA: The Asymmetric Threats Contingency
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