It’s November 2012, and after a dreadfully wet summer, an even wetter autumn, we’re heading into a sodden winter. The land is so soaked with water that it can no longer hold it and every time it rains the water just sits in the fields and meadows puddles along the gutters and is barely coped with by the drains.
Driving home from Bristol today, I had to go through three-foot of water… scary…
Somerset is a county of hills and levels, and traditionally the lowlands would flood every year. Drainage and land management has sought to control the water and sea defences to protect us from the sea. However, more and more houses are being built, and more and more of them are on flood plains… so right now, much of Somerset is flooded, and sadly, several people have lost their lives.
However in 1607 a flood of disastrous proportions hit Somerset, Devon in England and Carmarthenshire and Monmouthshire in Wales. There was a tidal which sent sea water 14 miles inland along the English coast, and devastated villages and communities on both sides of the Bristol Channel. it is estimated that 200 square miles of farmland was inundated, livestock and people swept away. Uphill, where we live would have been totally immersed.
Descriptions of what happened written at the time, talk of the sea receding and then a huge wall of water with sparks flying off the crest, racing across the land, faster than a man could run. We are used to having very high tides along this coast – the Bristol Channel has the second highest tidal flow in the world, if a high tide is influenced by the full moon, or if there is a tidal surge, if there is a strong on-shore wind, if there is a heavy rainfall swelling the rivers and waterways, then flooding occurs… but the sea receding, a wall of water travelling faster than a running man? Does that sound like a tsunami to you? A tsunami in 1607 in Somerset?