Conversation with Bronagh

JO: you’ve both experience of what’s happened. I’m here with Bronagh at the Londonderry Tourist …

B: Derry Visitor Information Centre

JO: So thanks for talking to me … and us. We were just talking about … I came in and asked, perhaps a little bid oddly, for “where would you go if you were trying to see some evidence of what happened in the last – what was it – three weeks ago or something?”

B: three weeks ago.

JO: and what did happen?

B: there was a lot of rain. There was rainfall for about 7 hours straight. And there was lots of flooding, and roads were closed.

JO: so this is just runoff, like, off the land. It’s nothing to do with storm surges or sea or anything ….

B: it was the rainfall … and burst rivers …

JO: it was the huge amount of rainfall … they burst their …

B: they burst their banks.

JO: ok. And you were telling me about – your family had sort of direct experience, didn’t it, immediately?

B: That night, when my son was coming back from Belfast, from a concert, they were all put off the bus on the way home because they couldn’t go any further. And he was very worried and panicked. None of the parents .. .there were 5 sets of parents because there were 5 friends … we couldn’t do anything to get to them because of the floods. And they … I was worried about the state of my son because he was in a panic

JO: yes

B: So they were heading towards the Belfry Inn, which actually put up about 100 people that night, when the police stopped and took them to his friend’s house. And he stayed there the night, which was a relief. That state of panic and worry lasted for about two hours.

JO: pretty uncomfortable yes?

B: And they were out still walking in the rain, cold, and wet, and miserable and not knowing what to do.

JO: And you say you considered going to get them at one point but the water was too much?

B: The water level was too high and the coach .. the bus couldn’t go through so a car couldn’t have gone through it. And then all the back roads were flooded – the country roads – but the police came and picked them up in a big 4 x4 and they were able to get through it.

JO: Has the response subsequently been ok or has it been a bit slow? I’ve seen a couple of stories saying “eek! We weren’t really prepared for this kind of stuff”, but, have they caught up?

B: No, I think at the minute, they’re still doing repairs, and here, especially, we do have a lot of rainfall – they should have been better prepared. But, we haven’t seen anything like that. Nobody had seen anything like that – that amount of rainfall.

JO: as I told you, I’m thinking about the context of climate change and everything. I’ve just come back from two weeks with my Godmother, who I hadn’t seen for a long time, in the South of France. She hadn’t had rain there since May, I think. They hadn’t had any rain since May. And apparently half the Mediterranean is on fire …. like in Rome they have water shortages because they’ve used a lake to try and put out all these fires and they’ve now run low …

B: right

JO: and we know that in the States, they’ve got huge problems, haven’t they, in Texas ?

B: and also there’s fires ….

JO: yes, in California, in particular. Are people here sort of bothered about climate change? Just thinking about the public …

B: I think more so now because of all the news from all over the world. You know everybody sees it on TV and Facebook etc – more people are aware of it and I think it’s starting to worry a lot of people.

JO : Is this seen as being part and parcel of it?

B: Yes.

JO: So, people are making those connections.

B: Everybody is aware that the climate is changing everywhere. Even people in here were talking about it’s the end of the world. You know … to that extent. A lot of people were freaked out by what happened. And it’s nowhere near what happens in the States.

JO: yes

B: I think people now are becoming more and more aware and hopefully …

JO: what are we going to do about it?

B: Exactly, that’s what I am saying … hopefully the people in charge …

JO: … but that’s you!

B: … but what can I do?

JO: well, you’re in charge …

B: … about rivers overflowing?

JO: well, that’s the question. I’m being slightly flippant but .. do you feel like you know what we can do? My sense is that actually there are things we can do but no one has made an extremely good effort at communicating it so people are slightly at a loss.

B: yes. That’s the way I feel at the minute. Let me get my colleague. I’m sure she’ll have something to say about it.

JO: That’s been absolutely brilliant. Thank you very much. You’re rather good at it actually.