The constituency in which I live and am proud to serve is the most flood-prone constituency in the country, as it is constituted on land drained by the Dutch some 400 years ago, many of whose descendants continue to live in our area. We are at the bottom of the catchment, so I agree 100% with what Dave Doogan says about the need for better management upstream.
We have seen numerous events in recent years, whether the tidal surge of 2013, the flooding of 2010 and 2011 in Goole or the flooding in December, which happened on a smaller scale. Whether in Crowle, South Ferriby or Burringham, or whether in Snaith, Cowick or Gowdall at the moment, we are repeatedly hit by incidents of flooding.
I begin by paying tribute to my constituents and how they are currently responding to the incredible deluge in Snaith and Cowick. I have been involved in flooding for many years as an MP, parish councillor and councillor, and I have never seen the inundation of water that we now see in the washlands of the River Aire.
My constituents are responding in an incredible way. The Snaith church ladies and our wonderful vicar, Eleanor Robertshaw—I sometimes call her the “commie vicar” but we are good friends—have been providing 24/7 support to those who have been evacuated and to emergency service responders, with free food being provided by many businesses, including the Supreme coffee house in Goole. The response of the community has been incredible.
I thank Vicky Whiteley and Snaith and Cowick Town Council, the Snaith sports hall voluntary team and Andy McLachlan of the Cowick and Snaith internal drainage board for their work in supporting my constituents. Andy and I have worked together on many flooding events over the years, and the response from the drainage board has, as ever, been first class. I also wish to thank the fire and rescue service, including those who have come in from elsewhere, from places such as Cheshire and West Yorkshire, and our ambulance service, which has been on hand with permanent resources. I should also thank the very many residents involved, the council staff and the Environment Agency staff. The response has been incredible. We are dealing with 4 million cubic metres of water, or 800 million gallons, still there, in an area below sea level. We are defended by hundreds of miles of defence banks in our area, and getting that away will be a big challenge.