Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Review of our Yalding Flood Impacts fieldwork

Today we took our Year 12 class to Yalding to investigate the impacts of the flood of October 2000. These floods affected huge swathes of South East England that Autumn and affected thousands of people in vulnerable locations.  They were caused by sequence of intense depressions bringing weather front after weather front in the second wettest October since records began in 1766.
We were kindly invited into a residents' house
I chose Yalding as the location for our fieldwork because it is only 15 minutes away from school and because it was hit so severely.  Yalding had many mentions in the national and international media and was invaded by journalists and cameras!

Conducting an oral history
What methods did we employ to investigate the impacts of this flood?  The rest of this blog will discuss and evaluate our methods.

  1. Plotting the Flood Water Line.  As we walked around Yalding we plotted the 'high water' line of the floodwater onto a set of maps.  This was interesting to do but the 1:10,000 scale maps we used were too small to plot this data easily.  It would have been easier with 1:5000 MasterMap scales.  Also, if we had more time in Yalding we could have completed this activity. Research Tip: Another way of drawing the 'high water' line is to use an aerial photograph taken during the flood and plot this onto a map.  
  2. Flood Hotspot Photos. As we crossed Yalding Bridge we got our first view of some of the houses first hit by the floods.  It was quite striking to see how vulnerable these houses were to flooding, being built on the floodplain, right next to the channel of the River Beult. Research tip: You could use some 'now and then' photos where you compare your fieldwork photo to a photo of a place taken during the flood.
  3. Oral Histories.  Local historian Tony Kremer kindly introduced us to local resident Jenny who was severely affected by the floods.  This was probably the most powerful learning experience of the visit as talking to an eye-witness brought this flood event to life.  Students were also able to interact with Jenny and ask her questions.  Some good questions asked were, "How were you affected by the floods?" and "Why do you still live here?"  It would have been interesting to interview more people as only asking one person doesn't give a fully representative picture of the social impacts. 
  4. Questionnaire.  Due to lack of time I devised a questionnaire for the students to ask.  Out in the field we were very short of time and only managed to complete one questionnaire.  Perhaps this fieldwork needs a whole morning or afternoon to collect more reliable data?
  5. Resilience.  Finally we took some photos of new housing built at Acott Fields.  The ground flood of these houses are used for garages and access to homes.  This makes local residents more resilient to a flood as although they might not be able to get into their homes, none of their possessions will be damaged. Many dwellings in Yalding also have raised ground floors which also improve resilience. 
Flood resilience in Acott Fields - new urban development

Flood Hotspot - next to the River Beult