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Chapter 5

Case study

Water on the land

The Hull floods of 2007
In the summer of 2007, parts of England suffered some of the worst flooding seen in recent
decades. On 25 June, a slow moving area of low pressure was centred over the North Sea.
This resulted in a prolonged period of very heavy rain. The rain fell on already saturated
ground in Hull and the surrounding area, as there had been heavy bursts of rain in the
previous week.
One of the issues associated with the floods was the perceived inequality in assistance and
support from local and national government in the immediate aftermath of the events. The
leader of Hull City Council, Carl Minns, described Hull as the forgotten city in this disaster.
What we have in Sheffield and Doncaster is terrible, and my heart-felt sympathy goes out to
those people. But their problems have been fairly localised, whereas ours is spread right
across the city. Hull also needs help. The Government needs to help this city with a large
injection of capital, otherwise this city will not recover.

The events of 25 June 2007

Earlier rainfall in June (Figure 1) exacerbated the large and intense rainfall of 25 June itself
(Figure 2). The Environment Agency issued a heavy rainfall warning on 22 and 23 June,
followed by a Flood Watch on 24 June. Severe Flood Warnings, the highest level of warning,
were then issued. Fortunately, the main rivers did not flood and the Environment Agency
used the tidal barrier to reduce the effect of high tide on the rivers.

Figure 1. Rainfall over Hull for June 2007

AQA GCSE Geography A Nelson Thornes Ltd 2009

Chapter 5
Case study

Figure 2. Rainfall over Hull for June 25 2007

However, water did flood more than 600 streets throughout Hull; 8,657 houses and an
estimated 20,000 residents were affected. Over 6,000 people had to live in temporary
housing, with over 1,400 having to be temporarily accommodated in caravans. For many, the
next few months were spent living away from home, negotiating with insurance companies
(for those that had insurance), overseeing building work and realising that their home would
never look exactly the way it once did. In addition people were fearful of future events just
how safe were their homes from future flooding?
In addition to the effect on housing, some 90 schools and over 1,000 businesses in Hull
suffered as a result of the floods.

Why was Hull so badly affected?

The critical factor in the floods that affected such a widespread area of Hull on 25 June 2007
was the inability of the citys drains and pumping stations to cope with the large amount of
heavy rainfall.
Before 2005, there were two main pumping stations, one to the west of the city and one to
the east. The opening of a new sewage works at Saltend led to the closure of the west
pumping station and the one in the east was only partly operational. Additionally, in the
Bransholme district of Hull, a separate pumping station constructed in 1967 failed on the
night of the 25 June. This meant that water remained in the area, rather than being pumped
into the River Hull.
The drainage system in Hull simply could not cope with the volume of water. Shortcomings
had been identified, but improvements had not been made. Therefore, to some extent, this
was a man-made disaster.

AQA GCSE Geography A Nelson Thornes Ltd 2009

Chapter 5
Case study
How will the effects of flooding be reduced in the future?
The Government commissioned a report into the 2007 floods to be carried out by Sir Michael
Pitt, whilst Hull City Council organised an independent review, chaired by the University of
Key findings of the reports included:
There should be no building on flood plains, unless there is no alternative.
More accurate flood warnings were needed from the Met Office and the Environment
Better communication was needed whereby people would be automatically contacted
by phone if at risk.
People should be better prepared, knowing what equipment, such as torches, rubber
gloves, wet wipes to have in case of flooding.
Boards should be used to form temporary dams rather than sand bags.
Buildings should be built better to meet requirements in areas at risk from flooding.
Emergency planning was needed for floods resulting from large amounts of rain.
Nationally, the Government has allocated 15 million to seek to reduce the risk of flooding in
the future. However, the Chairman of the Local Government Association (LGA) at the time,
believed that this will not be enough to ensure our villages, towns and cities are properly
protected. More than half of all councils have told the LGA that they do not have sufficient
resources to deal with flooding.
Hull City Council was informed in December 2008 that they were to receive just 50,000 to
draw up surface water management plans. The Chief Executive believed that this would only
go a small way to begin to complete plans and that investment would be needed on a much
larger scale.

1 Study Figure 1.
Describe the rainfall in Hull during June 2007.
Explain the importance of the different rainfall events (between 14 and 15 June,
20, 23 June and 25 June) to the flooding of the 25 June.
c) On a copy of Figure 2, add at least 3 detailed labels analysing the rainfall of the 25
June and explaining its importance to the flooding that occurred.
2 Produce an eyewitness account of the floods in Hull, capturing the human cost of the
3 Complete a factfile summarising the key effects of the floods in June 2007.
4 Work in pairs. Read the section on Why was Hull so badly affected? To what extent
do you agree with the statement that these floods were manmade?
5 Study the seven recommendations of the reports into the Hull floods. Work in pairs to
select what you consider to be the best three recommendations aimed at reducing the
impact of future floods. Justify your choice and compare it with other groups in your

AQA GCSE Geography A Nelson Thornes Ltd 2009

Chapter 5
Case study

Useful weblinks
Further information on the floods in Hull can be obtained from the following websites:
Visit the website of Professor Tom Coulthard to see a copy of the interim report on the
2007 floods in Hull. Type into your browser. From the home
page click on the link New pages on floods in Hull, June 2007, shown underneath
the image of the floods on the left-hand side. On the next page, under the list of
Reports (Chronological) click on Coulthard, T.J., Frostick, L., Hardcastle, H., Jones,
K., Rogers, D. & Scott, M. (2007) The 2007 floods in Hull. Interim report by the
Independent Review Body, 24th August 2007. Hull City Council, 36pp.
The final report on the 2007 floods in Hull is shown on the University of Hulls website.
Type into your browser. From the universitys home page, click on
Departments and Faculties shown on the left-hand side of the screen. On the next
page, click on Academic departments. Then click on Geography. On the next page
click on Information shown in the menu on the left-hand side of the screen. On the
next page click on the map shown to the left of the heading Floods in Hull-Final
Because Nelson Thornes is not responsible for third party content online, there may be some changes to this material that are
beyond our control. In order for us to ensure that the links referred to in this resource are as up to date and stable as possible,
the websites provided are usually homepages with supporting instructions on how to reach the relevant pages if necessary.

AQA GCSE Geography A Nelson Thornes Ltd 2009