The crisp summer air filled the local park, the sun burning down, everyone wanted some fresh air-the park was packed. A young couple lounging on the fresh grass having a barbecue, the juicy aroma of sausages floated through the park, making everyone hungry. Across from the couple parked precariously on an old patch of grass was an ancient ice-cream van. The old, decrepit van had been in the family for years, paint peeling, bodywork rusting, the ice-cream van was fit for the dump, but as if transfixed, everyone in the local park was swarming to the van, tired parents, bored teenagers-everyone needed some refreshment.
The ice-cream van driver a sweaty OAP, looking worn and fed up, his eyes scanning the crowd,hoping for some refuge from the swarm of impatient customer. Beads of sweat dripping from his forehead, handing out melting ice-creams laden with sprinkles, the summer heat was all too much. Close to the van was a young mother, struggling to control her two troublesome toddlers fighting with their younger sibling,sitting in a rather worn looking pram. Her oldest child, seemingly unaware, was clicking away on her phone. Baby crying, mother screaming, she was quickly attracting the attention of passers-by.
The young mother was trying to explain to her children she had no money for ice-cream. Tired and confused she attempted to calm down her noisy children, stopping to pick up her crying toddler who had just fallen over, whilst trying to make a run for it towards the trees;she narrowly missed being trampled by a passing runner and his personal trainer. The sweaty, runner, looked nervously around the park, his eyes longingly glancing towards the ice-cream van, licking his lips, wishing he could gulp down an ice-cold can of coke.
Rather large in comparison to his personal trainer- a young, fit female. He was finding it hard to keep up, begging her to slow down. Tiredly trying to tug-down his sweat-drenched West Ham t-shirt he came to a stop, collapsing right in the middle of the worn patch of grass, a group of boisterous boys were playing a rowdy game of football. Out of the usual gang playing football, one boy was already perched on a nearby bench being comforted by his concerned mother, clumsily dabbing anaemic looking antiseptic onto his rather badly grazed knee.
Other players were taking a break, sitting on patches of grass licking rapidly melting ice-creams, whilst watching the carnage occuring on the pathetic looking pitch. One over-excited boy lobs the battered ball towards a passing couple, hand in hand the old couple quicken their pace, retreating from the brutal match. The old couple carry on along the path, leaning on their walking sticks for support. The old lady’s dress softly flaps in the wind, exposing her swollen feet clad in thick socks with sandals. Their aged faces crinkling into smiles as they watch the sunset. Their eyes wide through their magnifying-glass shaped spectacles.
The local park is gradually cloaked in datrkness, the park slowly clears, until all you can hear is the gentle laughter ringing from the late night barbecues and midnight strollers. Wandering through the park, engulfed by my thick coat, I stare around me with disgust. The once green and beautiful park is now grey and boring; damaged by youths. However, the park is the place where I can just come and think: it’s quiet and peaceful and I feel free; away from the bustle and noise of the city. There is a chill breeze in the air, therefore most people are inside their warm houses, clustering round their coal fires, but this is when I like it best.
To me, wrapped up in layers and scarves, it only feels fresh, not cold and I can think better when I’m alone. I stare at the climbing frame, once bright and colourful with a shiny slide, but now the only colour is the dull rusty red of the metal and the black of the graffiti covering it. My eyes glaze over while I reminisce about happier times spent on the climbing frame, and how I used to fly through the air, aided by the monkey bars, just like a chimpanzee swinging through a tree. The trees in the park creak and groan as the wind picks up. Leaves rustle at my feet and my hair is whipped around my raw face by unseen hands.
I disappear inside my warm jacket and spy the swings over in the corner. As I sit on the only swing not broken by vandals, one gloved hand entwined round the chain, and my feet scuffing at the tarmac, I gently propel myself forward and back in gentle rhythm. I am lost in my own world. Absent-mindedly my free hand delves deep into the mystery of my pocket and finds a single, solitary chocolate truffle. I unwrap the truffle slowly, so as not to damage the shiny wrapper. It has a wonderfully rich smell that only chocolate has and the creamy centre of the truffle warms my frozen insides as it makes its journey to my stomach.
The roundabout is twirling through the wind in the distance, but I can’t see it. I am entranced. I can’t tear my eyes away from the wrapper fluttering in my hands. Its iridescent quality is making me feel tranquil and serene. My eyes swim in and out of focus as my vision is replaced by one from a long time ago. Parts of Goole have been flooded following heavy rain. Firefighters were called to the East Riding Council offices in Church Street after the building was struck by lightning. Emergency services said flooding was “localised” and advised people to check the Environment Agency website for the latest flood warnings.
At present the Met Office is forecasting Hull will escape the rain this evening (Thursday). However, heavy rain is forecast for the city and county from mid-morning tomorrow (Friday). John Skidmore, head of streetscene services at East Riding of Yorkshire Council, said: “We have been alerted by the Met Office of heavy rain which will arrive on the east coast at 7am and move across the entire region which could lead to potential flooding issues. “We have suspended all grounds, highway and street sweeping operations tomorrow so we have staff available should we need to activate any emergency plans.
We will have staff at locations across the East Riding letting us know how heavy the rainfall is and if there are any areas of localised flooding so we can deploy services where we need them quickly. “The rain is predicted to arrive on the east coast at 7am and move out of the area early afternoon. “Driving conditions in tomorrow morning’s rush hour could be potentially hazardous due to surface water. I would urge drivers to allow extra time for their journey and drive accordingly. ” South Yorkshire’s public organisations have been widely praised for keeping people safe after last summer’s unprecedented floods.
Now a new report aims to ensure any future flood would be met with an even better response for the people of South Yorkshire. The “Final Report on the Flooding of Summer 2007” highlights how the investment in emergency planning over the last decade proved its worth in ensuring that the response was of a high standard. Tragically, two people lost their lives in the early stages of the flooding, but the number of casualties would have been much higher had the response of emergency services, and other partners, not been so well co-ordinated.
The report has been produced by South Yorkshire’s Local Resilience Forum (LRF), a high-level partnership of the area’s emergency services, local authorities, health authorities and other key partner agencies. The 13-page report praises the “prompt action by responding organisations” to keep people safe, and notes that effective recovery planning meant there has been “no large dislocation of communities to areas outside of the county – as has happened elsewhere.
The report also looks at areas of the response which provide lessons to be learned in the event of any future flood. The ‘Gold’ command which led the partnership’s response “proved effective in managing rapidly unfolding events such as the potential collapse of the dam at Ulley Reservoir,” but several improvements to the way that command structure operated have been identified. Steps are also being taken to improve the flood warning systems to provide a quicker indication that flooding might be on its way.
Action is already under way to address 26 key recommendations, some of which provide an overlap with the recommendations of the national interim Pitt Report, which was published on 17th December 2007. The Environment Agency is already planning to install additional flood warning equipment to the north and west of Sheffield. A new, specially-designed ‘Gold’ command location is also being developed in the county. This means that in any future flooding – or similar major emergency – South Yorkshire’s response will be informed not only by training exercises, but by improvements developed from real-life events.
Chief Constable Meredydd Hughes, chair of the South Yorkshire LRF, said: “The flooding of summer 2007 led to a tremendous response by everyone involved, which demonstrated the value of all the planning and training that has taken place for many years. “However, no amount of foresight could have fully prepared us for such an unprecedented situation. It is right that we now reflect on the things we would do better in any future flooding events, as well as the excellent work which took place last summer. ”