Martin Bright

Cumbrian Floods: How Long Till We Forget?

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So what happens when the news cameras leave and the people who have been flooded out are left to clear up the mess and rebuild their lives? The point is that the news agenda moves on and the people of Cockermouth will just have to get on with it. 

But where is the record of what happened? Who is collecting all those stories of the extraordinary events of November 2009? Thanks to the internet, some of the oral history of the great flood has been automatically recorded. The BBC website captured some of the stories. But they will just sit there without proper curation.

And in this time of high unemployment, where is the strategic work creation project to allow those without work to help with the clear up and to record what went on for posterity?

I have been looking at an extraordinary little boo, produced in 1938 by Franklin D Roosevelt's Works Progress Administration which was responsible for work creation under the New Deal. New England Hurricane: A Pictorial Record, was written and compiled by members of Federal Writers' Project of the WPA in the New England states. 

The book contains the words and photographs of the unemployed who travelled to the sites of devastation across the east coast of America.  The black-and-white photos provide a haunting record of what they found.

Why couldn't we have had a similar project to record what happened in Cumbria? It should be easier to compile such a record with digital technology. It would have provided work and acted as a tribute to the people of Cumbria.