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Simon's Story

Get Thinking

Many of us remember the flood in 1993 that Simon talks about. Whether it’s our house that floods or not, these events can create havoc for the local community, rupturing its services and amenities and sometimes destroying livelihoods. So it is really important that we understand the risks and what we can do to reduce them as a community.

Bude has developed over 200 years in an era of very stable sea levels. Before this, the landscape was dominated by salt marshes, which have left us with many waterways weaving their way through our landscape. This brings both benefits and challenges to our community, including an increased risk of flooding. As the climate continues to change, we are becoming more vulnerable to flood events. This is due to a number of factors including rising sea levels and more frequent extreme storm events with intense rainfall, such as the one that caused serious damage in Boscastle and Crackington Haven in 2004.

When rain falls on  compacted soil or sealed surfaces like roads and buildings, it doesn’t soak into the ground as it should. Instead, the rainwater surges over land into streams and rivers, raising their water levels and greatly increasing the likelihood of flooding.

  • Storms
    As temperatures increase, the amount of water that evaporates into the atmosphere increases and is released as extreme rain, hail and snowfall. Storms passing over warmer water absorb more energy, increasing wind intensity. In Bude this means an increased risk of storm surges and flooding. Numerous waterways in and around Bude put many of us in river catchments and we therefore need to think seriously about how we can adapt to flood risks. Floods damage not only our homes and livelihoods, but also impact on water safety. Our outdated drainage systems cannot cope with additional water flows, which leads to sewage being discharged into rivers, making its way onto our beaches at Crooklets and Summerleaze.
  • Heat Waves
    In the UK we now experience twice as many warm spells a year, as in the 1990s. In 2020, 2,556 heat-related deaths were recorded, a figure predicted to increase threefold by 2050. What may feel to some like a beautiful summer’s day can put others under extreme stress. People with underlying health conditions or over 65, as well as young children and those on low incomes are particularly vulnerable to heat stress as they are less able to adapt to the heat. But as temperatures continue to rise we are starting to see fit and healthy people being affected too.
  • Extreme Cold
    Weather systems are highly complex, so although it seems strange, climate change also increases the risk of extremely cold weather events, as we saw in March 2018 with the ‘Beast from the East’, which brought icy temperatures and snow even to Cornwall.
  • Droughts and Wildfires
    As the climate changes, we’ll experience more rain falling but less frequently, which means more flash floods and more periods of drought. This combination of factors leaves us susceptible to drought and therefore wildfires, as land and vegetation dry out. Already we’re seeing changes – in 2020, Cornwall Fire and Rescue attended 80% more wildfires than the previous year.
  • Water Shortages
    By 2050 water demand will outstrip supply as the population continues to grow and water availability reduces, according to predictions by the UK Committee on Climate Change. In the UK we use an average of 143 litres per day per person and water conservation is essential for reducing drought and wildfire risk.

Flood Defences

Protecting Bude from floods is an ongoing challenge, with many lessons learned from the past. For instance, following the 1993 flood, critical improvements had a major impact and there hasn’t been a significant river flood since. The old weir in town was found to be a contributing factor, so it was removed and replaced with a tilting weir, which is now permanently down to remove the risk of water backing up in town. The government is currently funding £2.1 million of improvements to protect our existing defences, but we are still at risk from sea-level rise.

Alongside the necessary structural adaptations, dedicated people like Simon are helping to restore the ecological potential of our landscape to hold water. Improving the condition of our landscape and soil will greatly reduce the amount of water that finds its way into our waterways, thereby helping to prevent flooding. The good news is that better land management and planting not only protects nature and increases biodiversity, it also improves soils to absorb more water and avert flooding. So the more we can do as a community, both in our town and in our surrounding parishes, to protect the environment and improve our surroundings, the better it will be for everyone in many ways, including reducing our flood risk.

Get Inspired

We have put together some tips on what we as individuals and collectively as a community can do to  reduce the risks associated with flooding. These centre around slowing the flow of water when it falls, as any rain that falls on your roof, driveway, or garden contributes to the risk of overflowing sewers and flooding. These changes not only enhance our enjoyment of our built-up areas, making them more visually attractive, but they also improve the environmental quality of our air and water .

These small and easy individual changes bring massive benefits if they are repeated across the community. Be the first in your street or community and others will follow.

  • Storms
    As temperatures increase, the amount of water that evaporates into the atmosphere increases and is released as extreme rain, hail and snowfall. Storms passing over warmer water absorb more energy, increasing wind intensity. In Bude this means an increased risk of storm surges and flooding. Numerous waterways in and around Bude put many of us in river catchments and we therefore need to think seriously about how we can adapt to flood risks. Floods damage not only our homes and livelihoods, but also impact on water safety. Our outdated drainage systems cannot cope with additional water flows, which leads to sewage being discharged into rivers, making its way onto our beaches at Crooklets and Summerleaze.
  • Heat Waves
    In the UK we now experience twice as many warm spells a year, as in the 1990s. In 2020, 2,556 heat-related deaths were recorded, a figure predicted to increase threefold by 2050. What may feel to some like a beautiful summer’s day can put others under extreme stress. People with underlying health conditions or over 65, as well as young children and those on low incomes are particularly vulnerable to heat stress as they are less able to adapt to the heat. But as temperatures continue to rise we are starting to see fit and healthy people being affected too.
  • Extreme Cold
    Weather systems are highly complex, so although it seems strange, climate change also increases the risk of extremely cold weather events, as we saw in March 2018 with the ‘Beast from the East’, which brought icy temperatures and snow even to Cornwall.
  • Droughts and Wildfires
    As the climate changes, we’ll experience more rain falling but less frequently, which means more flash floods and more periods of drought. This combination of factors leaves us susceptible to drought and therefore wildfires, as land and vegetation dry out. Already we’re seeing changes – in 2020, Cornwall Fire and Rescue attended 80% more wildfires than the previous year.
  • Water Shortages
    By 2050 water demand will outstrip supply as the population continues to grow and water availability reduces, according to predictions by the UK Committee on Climate Change. In the UK we use an average of 143 litres per day per person and water conservation is essential for reducing drought and wildfire risk.

Get Sharing

Stories trigger more stories,

so we hope this has sparked some of your own memories and

provided an opportunity to reflect. 

Have you ever witnessed a flood

or been involved in one?

What memories remain with you from this?

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Have you witnessed any changes as a result of flooding in Bude?

-

Do you have a relationship

with any of the rivers in Bude?

In what way do you relate to the river?

Dive Deeper

Get Together

If you’re part of a local group and would like to explore this theme more through additional activities, then you might like to use our ‘Hands On’ toolkits. Contact Us to find out more.

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Teachers wanting to use these stories in the classroom can download additional resources here.

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Get Involved

Bude is already bursting at the seams with enthusiastic environmental groups and great initiatives

if you want to get involved with. Here’s a few:

Westcountry Rivers Trust

Join the Westcountry Citizen Science Investigations team and contribute to the resilience of our region’s rivers, their habitats and wildlife for now and for future generations.

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Thank You

We hope our suggestions and advice leave you feeling inspired. climate change can be challenging to think and talk about, so if any of your questions haven’t been answered or you need support or you have an idea you want to pursue, then please get in touch with the Bude Climate Partnership. We’re here to help you.

This Toolkit has been developed by Storylines.

Storylines is a Community Interest Company who use the common language of story to bring people together to share, celebrate, learn and connect.  Storylines supports organisations and communities to unearth and share their own stories through bespoke story projectsdigital storytellingeducation, oral historyworkshopsinterpretation

training and consultancy.

Share your memories and reflections here

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