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After the flood

Today is August 16th, the anniversary of the fatal flood at Lynmouth, Devon in 1952. A cold front collided with a thunderstorm, and the two slid down the sides of an already-sodden Exmoor. The waters scooping up boulders, debris and fallen trees which dammed the Lyn river. When the dam broke a huge surge of water and debris destroyed 100 buildings, 34 people were killed.

It’s also the anniversary of the non-fatal, but also massively destructive flooding of my home village of Boscastle, in Cornwall when a one in 1300 incidence of heavy rain overwhelmed the rivers Jordan and Valency. You may remember the pictures, overturned cars swirling through grey waters, past pretty cottages, the water’s power terrifying but also somehow unlikely, faintly absurd. This sort of destruction in a place of ice cream and gift shops.

I’d long since moved away, and was actually on holiday in Harrogate when the story broke, I only found out because my phone started going with various people checking I was okay, assuming I’d gone back to Boscastle for a few days. I’m fine, I said, but uneasily as I watched again and again the images of a place I loved disappearing under a surge of water.

There is a trite point to be made about the power of nature, about how we as mankind in our vaulting ambition shouldn’t forget it etc. Truisms however, are truisms for a reason, the waters soon receded, but don’t forget they can always come back.


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