We’ve been reporting on the flooding problems in Hambledon for more than a week now, and nobody who has read the stories can fail to be impressed by the dogged determination of the residents fighting the incessant encroaching water.
That, and sympathy for their plight, is the over-riding emotion, but sadly for them, garnering the admiration of readers in print and online will do nothing for their situation.
And that’s why this week’s news that the village has been missed out of the latest round of flood defence grants from the Environment Agency is so disappointing.
Being hit by flooding is not a competition, and we are not suggesting that Hambledon is the worst-hit area of the country – a look at areas of Somerset and Cornwall will confirm that. However, by the same token, nor does this mean that Hambledon should be overlooked. There are simple, and relatively inexpensive measures, such as a new underground pipe through the village, which could make a big difference.
At the moment Hambledon needs more than visits by dignitaries. We are not criticising the Lord Lieutenant of Hampshire Dame Mary Fagan for going to the village yesterday, far from it, but we hope that visits such as these are not seen in some quarters as an alternative to engineering solutions and the hard cash to provide them.
The past couple of years has taught us that as a country we will have to look closely at flood defences. Potential rainfall and sea levels are higher than they were estimated, and previously rare weather events are now seen every couple of years.
Quite simply, the country – Hambledon included – needs serious weather proofing, and it needs to be planned now. Budgets will have to be looked at again, because in the long run, the alternative of going along as we are and carrying out repairs will end up being more expensive than prevention. Relying on pumping and sandbags after the event is not enough – and nor is tea and sympathy.