Exeposé News Issue 620, Page 2 (18 February 2014) and Exeposé News online (19 February 2014)
With David Cameron recently visiting parts of the South West afflicted by recent storms and heavy rainfall, areas including Devon, Dorset and Cornwall face the prospect of yet more challenging weather ahead.
The prime minister held a round-table meeting with railway representatives, local authorities, and business leaders concerning the capabilities of the South West’s railways, after Network Rail’s warning that line disruptions could take months to fully rectify.
The extensive damage to the line at Dawlish – Plymouth and Cornwall’s only rail link with the rest of the UK – has resulted in a likely six week closure, estimated to cost the region’s economy for up to £2 million a day throughout.
Amidst calls for longer-term solutions to problems such as these, Patrick Hallgate, from Network Rail, has stated that the construction of an alternative inland route would cost “£400-£500m at least.”
However, despite further forecasted storms during the coming week, leaders in Devon have insisted that the county remains accessible. Encouraging visitors not to be deterred by recent storms, John Hart, Devon County Council Leader, stated “It may take a little longer to get here temporarily but we are investing in the facilities that businesses need and there is a warm welcome awaiting them”.
Although flood alerts on the River Exe from Tiverton to Exeter were lifted on Sunday 9th February, flooding remains a serious issue in local areas. Whilst wildlife charity Secret World reports numerous wildlife casualties – including swans that mistook the M5 near Exeter for a river – Devon Community Foundation has recently launched a Devon Flood Fund appeal. The appeal aims to raise £50,000 through donations to fund the recovery of homes and businesses badly affected, as well as offering counselling and support services to relieve emotional stress as a result of flooding.
At the time of writing, the Met Office has issued multiple yellow and amber weather alerts for the coming days, stating: “The public should be aware of the risk of some travel disruption and difficult driving conditions”, and advising the public to “take extra care”.
Chris Rootkin, VP Welfare and Community, told Exeposé: “During the ongoing stormy weather I would urge students to stay up to date with local weather warnings and avoid any unnecessary journeys. For students living off-campus, let your landlord know about any storm damage to your property as soon as possible so repairs can be made before the damage gets worse”.