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Thursday, 31 July 2014

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Home should be where the heart is

Around the world there are shocking natural disasters – the kind that leave devastated victims without homes, sustenance or faith in future comfort.

They happen here too. But there’s a difference.

When disaster strikes thousands of miles away, we – and others like us – rush to alleviate heartbreaking human misery. We pour money into stricken areas decimated by flood, fire, ferocious big freezes, drought and famine.

When tidal surges claim homes and lives, we – through national and international aid appeals – salve our common conscience by pooling together generously to foot the bill for recovery.

Our government sends billions of pounds every year to countries which will need our cash to keep heads above water and financial feet dry. For that assistance they are no doubt suitably grateful.

The difference? People in this country are currently helplessly at the mercy of natural disaster. And nobody is helping them.

Is cash in high volume heading their way to stave off the disease and destruction they’re going to have to face for months, if not years, to come? Not so you’d notice.

Instead, in Somerset, Cornwall, Wales, communities along the River Thames – in fact right across much of the South West and parts of the South East – are being served bitter feuds of scripted words between the Environment Agency and government.

And they’re never going to be able to rehouse and rebuild with those.

Always having been a dutiful supporter of aid sent overseas – by government and career-building pop stars alike – my change of heart has been hard to find. But it has been found now and it centres on two simple words – home first.

There was a moment or two over the weekend when hope sparked a little flame. Communities secretary Eric Pickles, in interview, was asked whether David Cameron should apologise for what has amounted to abandonment of millions of people whose homes, businesses and livelihoods have been lost.

He responded with his own apology. “I’ll apologise unreservedly,” he said in typical bluff, straight-talking fashion.

“We were given bad advice by the Environment Agency.”

Lord above! Who will save these people from the blame game of politics? Who will save us from the same fate, if and when Cumbria next suffers the horrors of flood... which we have, of course, experienced before?

He went on to say that the millions we send to developing countries actually helps control our own climate problems. And if no-nonsense Eric really believes that, I’ll eat my new shoes for breakfast.

Developing countries have developed a plan that’s superior to our own by miles. When in trouble, they rely on the kindness of strangers (us) to save their public purses from having to shell out for their struggling populations.

Here we just argue about where to point accusing fingers, exchange daily insults and do precious little about the crux of the matter – which is about lives in peril.

And no, there is no reciprocal arrangement. Don’t expect recipients of our aid to suspend their space programmes, military and empire building plans in order to send a few bob when we need them. That’s not the way it works.

It’s looking pretty clear now that extreme climate conditions, however they are caused, will be commonplace episodes likely to claim more lives and properties, unless we’re prepared to fight against destruction... dredging rivers and investing more (not less) in flood defences would be a start.

Is our government blind to the suffering of its people? It has sure looked that way for the past several weeks.

When will they accept there are three ways to address this national scandal? Firstly, stop wasting money on nonsensical headline-grabbing but useless policies. Secondly, stop giving away our money to countries that don’t need it. Thirdly, stop arguing and do what you’re there for in times of crisis.

Then say you’re sorry – and mean it.

Have your say

When i hear of millions being raised for places that have been flooded all over the world and people in Carlisle that were ripped off by insurance companies i feel like we are second rate citizens, all we are good for is giving giving giving giving, but when we have a need there is noone to help. not one penny received after i lost almost everything through the floods even though there was supposed to be financial help from the governemetn, what help, its a lie the donations or money given for those affected end up goign to the management of the organizations in huge wages and fancy company cars.Shameful and sickening.

Posted by anonymouse on 24 February 2014 at 23:26

thats terrible to heer how your treated alan. they forget people have worked years paying taxes and putting there hard earned money into and making there houses better and also lived in there houses many years then think they can just pack up and move. everything that theyv done to better there houses with hard work meens nothing.
others have said even if you go to the employment agency to claim they wont give you anything because your not fit for work, sorry to tell you that.
they realy need to think about how bad they treat people from this country. before letting anyone and everyone come over heer.
yes its true about putting people on benefits in a bad light to others.
Cameron is doing it to get the publics eyes off him and disliken them.
even tv has jumped on the bandwagon making them look bad with documentries, ive seen theres a debate on after the benefit program.
its bad been on any benefits and no sign of work to get you off , i wouldnt wish it on anyone, its not a great life and a bed of roses like they make people think.
even single dads that live in a 2bedroom houses and have there kids weekends are getting forced out because of bedroom tax, which will meen alot will get stoped seeing there kids.

the floods are bad and were in cumbria too but if its happened before in the past they should have sorted flood defences the last time not waiting till its happens again and again then pretend they care telling the press and news and blaming everyone but themselves. your right about snow too there never ready and its all over the news roads closed panick panick . Other countries that get loads of snow must look at us all the time and just laff.

Posted by D. tennant on 15 February 2014 at 16:06

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