Photographers' Blog

After the deluge

Somerset, Britain

By Toby Melville

After a wet and windy December, in January it rained. And rained. And rained. And it kept on raining. Pretty much for the whole month in southern parts of Britain.

February was no better, bringing heavy storms and high winds. The extreme weather claimed a handful of lives, and flooded thousands of homes.

This wasn’t a disaster anywhere near the scale of the typhoon that hit the Philippines in 2013 or the Pakistan floods of 2010. It was nigh on negligible compared to the Indian Ocean tsunami of December 2004 where over 200,000 people died in one of the worst natural catastrophes of recent decades.

However, for a small island with a temperate climate on the eastern edge of the Atlantic Ocean (and a country where discussing the weather provides a common bond and safe opening gambit for conversation, possibly even more than debating football) the winter floods and rains were a huge event.

Not only did the floods leave some areas under water for more than a month, they also caused havoc for farmers, and disrupted business and transport links, even washing away part of a major train line. And the rain just seemed to keep on coming.

Water, water everywhere

Moorland, Britain

By Cathal McNaughton

It’s like a scene from a Hollywood disaster movie. The Somerset village of Moorland is under five feet of water. Wading along the usually bustling main street, I am struck by how quiet it is – everything has an eerie, post-apocalyptic feel.

The only sound I can hear is coming from the now breached flood defences moving backwards and forwards in the ebb and flow of the rising waters, creaking like a sinking ship.

There is a strong chemical smell of leaking fuel as I push past the huge chunks of debris floating by in the murky waters. Cars lie abandoned with their lights left on, the houses are sandbagged and empty – their inhabitants left days ago. I see a deserted house with post still sticking out of the letterbox.