This is another in our series of guest posts about experiences of extreme weather – sharing voices of people in the UK living with the impacts of climate change. This post is by Thiziri Boussaid @thizbous a young person living in Worcestershire. It was written in February, the wettest February in the UK since records began, and before UK society was impacted by Covid-19.
I’m from Malvern. Malvern, in itself, is not a place affected by flooding. Our houses aren’t going to be filled with flood water; our roads will never stop running. But the consequences still ripple through our lives. Worcestershire struggles with flooding; warnings of rain, of storms coming our way and we see Worcester flooding again. When it does, trains are cancelled and people we know, our family and our friends, struggle to cope as commuters and workers caused by the devastating impact of an underfunded Environmental Agency. The flooding can no longer be ignored – we need permanent defences to help. This entire winter period has been struck down with flooding, but the flooding caused by Storm Dennis is the biggest news. The real news should be that the repeated flooding is a symptom of climate change which is leading to a disruption and anxiety into many lives.
Cancellations. Cancellations everywhere. Delays. Even more delays. That’s the rail service at the moment. A friend named Sophie, was travelling to London to go see a play but ended up nearly missing it due to multiple cancellations. I was stuck in Worcester for hours, wanting to get home but unable to because most trains that day had been cancelled; I was late to my optician’s appointment because of delays and cancellations. The entire transport infrastructure is struggling; roads are closed into Upton and Worcester’s main bridge is closed meaning people are either having to wake up at extremely early times or to be late to work. That’s the reality of it all with your everyday person having to make accommodations to their lives every winter.
Hanley Castle High School was closed on 26th and 27th of February. Headmaster, Lindsey Cooke, came to the decision that students and teachers wouldn’t be able to get to school and it could potentially be dangerous. Cooke says that “extreme weather is becoming the new normal”. As I’m writing this, Storm Jorge is on the way over with 50-60mph winds. Even more wet and windy weather where defences are at breaking point in Bewdley, Upton, Worcester and Powick. Students have been striking from school, trying to get their voice out about climate change and climate action, and the government calls it a “waste of lesson time” but as soon as students are forced to miss school because of extreme weather caused by a change in weather patterns due to anthropogenic climate change, Boris Johnson is silent and the government shows absolutely no regard of the education of their citizens.
I think a great issue in all of this is the rise in climate anxiety. People in areas such as Worcestershire are going to feel worried about the safety of their property and of their livelihoods, especially with how local, independent businesses feel the wrath of the wind in their income. People like me are scared of where this is going, how much of our lives will have to be changed to accommodate the changing climate. We can’t just keep living in flood affected areas to be evacuated every year during storm season. It doesn’t just affect individual people it affects sports communities. Worcestershire County Cricket Club announced on Wednesday that ‘their first home match of the season against Sussex on 25 April must now be staged in nearby Kidderminster given New Road has spent 66 of the past 131 days under water’. Children can’t play grass roots football on waterlogged pitches.
Routines, debris, cars, people’s lives, are taken with flood water taken downstream. The pictures are haunting, the belongings of people trapped amongst wood and the pictures of those who died or were injured flashed across our TV’s make us grateful in Malvern that it was not our homes but still knowing how intertwined our lives are with others in our County of Worcestershire, and to prop each other up in our times of tribulation.