‘The one thing I remember that always sticks in my head from Storm Desmond in 2015 is being in my boyfriend’s living room watching the national news and seeing their car floating down one of the streets in Kendal.’
Having seen the devastating impact that flooding can have on people’s lives, a young woman from Kendal wants more protection against the elements for at-risk communities.
Twenty year old Sian Bentley is working on a Fixers campaign looking at whether natural measures could help prevent future flooding in her hometown.
Her story was broadcast on ITV Granada Reports and ITV News Lookaround on November 9.
Storm Desmond hit the north of England in December 2015, bringing severe gales with gusts up to 81 mph.
It was accompanied by record-breaking rainfall which brought flooding to areas, with Cumbria suffering the greatest impact.
‘I have had friends that only moved back into their house nine months afterwards and friends who had to live upstairs in their houses,' says Sian. 'They couldn’t go downstairs because of the effects of the flooding.
‘Now, whenever it starts raining, the first thing their brains are going to jump to is that something like that can happen again. To have that hanging over you all the time is just horrible.'
Sian, an apprentice conservation officer, is keen for natural flood management methods to be implemented, such as planting trees on higher land, allowing rivers to naturally meander and dredging rivers in towns.
Dr Paul Quinn, Senior Lecturer in Hydrology at Newcastle University, supports Sian's campaign and features in the broadcast film.
He says: ‘We need to make temporary lakes all the way across the Lake District. Simple, soft engineering will allow us to store very large amounts of water that can protect places like Kendal.’
Sian adds: ‘I think anybody who supports natural flood management is completely aware of the fact that this is something that needs to go alongside hard engineering options that will have faster effects. The two things are not mutually exclusive.
‘This is our town and our community. So it is our future that we need to be looking after.’
With the help of Fixers, Sian has made an informative leaflet that demonstrates different ways people can contribute to natural flood management in their communities.
Click on the image below to view Sian's Fixers leaflet.
‘I think replanting trees and restoring peatlands are two super important and relatively easy ways to help the problem if the funding is there and you have the landowners permission,’ said Sian.
‘Natural flood management would also benefit wildlife because we are restoring habitats that have been destroyed for whatever reason so it has multiple benefits.’
Sian wants to show her leaflet to decision makers and encourage them to invest more money into natural flood management to prevent further devastation.
To find other resources on this topic, and watch Fixers films, click on the image below.