Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Friday 6 December 2013

A deluge, viewed from afar

It is amazing to think that, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, I can sit in the Tavern and watch events unfold miles away; in this case, the impending flooding of Jaywick in Essex.

Firstly the emergency services are out and about; the expected tidal surge is bad news for a low-lying coastal community, so all 2,500 residents have been asked to evacuate their homes.

Not everyone has cooperated, though:
BBC Look East's Gareth George says: "If the householders say they staying, they are asked to sign a declaration saying they have had the risks explained to them." 
But he added most residents he spoke to were "staying put".
Which seems distinctly unwise in the face of the Environment Agency warning of 'danger to life' but might be explained by this tweet from the Gazette:
Also just been stopped by a diligent @EssexPoliceUK officer who said there are reports of ppl driving around Jaywick looking for empty homes
There is something particularly despicable about the idea of opportunistic looters converging on the scene of a reported emergency evacuation - who would ever have thought this would one day be the use to which mankind would put mass media and the internal combustion engine?

As a result, the police have stepped up their patrols, so, all in all,  the place must be getting pretty crowded, what with the local news reporters out in search of a good location shot or human interest story - though perhaps the official warnings will mean they are excused the usual piece to camera standing ankle-deep in water.

And, just to add to the confusion, there's another bunch of people wandering around too; the prospect of a record-breaking storm surge has brought the Darwin Award hopefuls out in force, to judge by the weary tone of this late-night announcement:
WARNING: Residents are urged to stay away from the flood risk areas as they could be putting themselves in danger.
Police are receiving information people are going to the area to watch the flooding. The high seas and rising water is unpredictable and the emergency services do not want to have to rescue people who have put themselves in potentially dangerous situations.
And to think that all of this rich tapestry of humanity is being relayed live for the benefit of a potential audience of millions (including one insomniac blogger who really should stop and try to get some sleep)! In a way, it's reassuring that what happened in 1953 can never be repeated, thanks not only to improved coastal defences but also to abundant and detailed information about the threat.

But it's also frustrating that, along with preventing (one hopes) loss of life, this mass communication has brought out the imprudent, the foolhardy and the downright dishonest.

It all sounds like a cross between 'Assault on Precinct 13' and 'Dawn of the Dead' with a touch of '2012' thrown in for good measure - I'm very glad to be heading for a quiet night a long way away.

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