Parts of the UK have suffered with devastating flood damage over the Christmas period.
It’s been heartbreaking to see it all on the News.
Complete house contents have ended up dumped in skips, including Christmas trees and piles of children’s Christmas presents.
Floods are getting noticeably worse in this country every year.
But local Councils are still allowing building of new houses on flood plains, adding to the problem.
We all feel deeply for the latest victims of floods, due to the heavy rainfall.
They’ve had their homes and businesses ruined, some of them three times in a month.
But their problems aren’t over yet. For some of them, they’ve hardly started!
A few years ago,I was invited on a trip down the Mississippi, from Memphis to Natchez.
The main purpose of the visit was to be shown the effects of the latest bad floods and how they’re keeping records of everything.
But it seems that nobody is monitoring the long-term health of the flood victims.
In the 1960s, the town of Lewes, in East Sussex, including our school, the Lewes County Grammar School for Girls, was badly flooded. We shared the boys’ school. We went there in the mornings and they had the afternoons.
A team went into our school to clear out all the books, which were dried out and all re-used.
I can still remember the sickening stink as we sat in the desks in the classrooms. It went right down the back of the throat. And every time we opened a book, we could smell the mould and damp. It was horrible!
All of us from the same year stayed in touch, and we get together every few years.
About 25 years ago, I began to notice that many of my friends had rare illnesses. Too many of them were ill for it to be a coincidence.
Out of around 90 of us, five had Multiple Sclerosis, two had Lupus, one had collapsed lungs and finally died, one had dropped dead at the bus-stop on the way to school, several had severe arthritis, and three of the teachers had died of cancer in their 20s and 30s.
Why? What was the link? We all lived in different parts of the country and had led different lives.
Of course! The link was the floods.
The Old School arranged a school reunion. When I saw the number of wheelchairs being unloaded from the back of cars and vans, I knew that something was seriously wrong.
Could floods be dangerous?
I contacted a Professor at the Sussex University.
Very dangerous, he told me. Sewage is a killer. All the toilets and sewage pipes would have been washed out into the streets and houses. And Weils Disease, from rats’ urine, is deadly.
Next I contacted our local sewage department. I was told their workers are all vaccinated against Hepatitis A and B, and Weils Disease.
Then I wrote an article for our local paper.
The response was enormous.
I discovered more sufferers of MS and cancer, both in our school and at the boys’ school, as well as other local residents.
One boy had gone blind overnight!
The boys’ school wasn’t flooded, but a lot of pushing and shoving went on in the flood water!
I heard from a long-lost friend. Her mother had read my article. She was dying of MS!
Sadly she has since died.
My close friend was sceptical. Why had the young teachers died, and not the older ones?
Well, who would have done all the work, carrying piles of books tucked under their chins, breathing in the fumes while the senior teachers supervised?
In 2,000 the floods came again. They flooded Lewes, plus Uckfield along the river.
A crowd of us gathered at the bottom of the town to watch the fast-moving muddy water. There’s nothing like a tragedy to unite a town!
Loads of disposable nappies were floating around everywhere. That hadn’t been a problem in the 60s!
Of course, the usual ‘everyone look at me!’ posers were wading through the water, and pushing each other around.
A chocolate bar floated past. Someone plucked it out of the water and ate it!
I wanted to scream at him, but I didn’t.
After the floods left, I interviewed people, both in Lewes and Uckfield.
Anyone who had gone in shops and houses to start clearing flooded buildings had suffered with sore throats and diarrhoea.
But the major effects won’t materialise for a long time.
My theories, once pooh-pooed at, have now become accepted facts.
Everything was dumped, including copper pipes from the builder’s merchants.
Plaster was stripped off walls, and floorboards were ripped up.
Anything touched by flood-water was condemned as dangerous.
Just as I’d said for a long time. I was right all along!
The Mississippi floods are recent enough for long-term research to be carried out.
So are terrible floods in many other parts of the world, including the UK.
Japan, of course, is different due to the radioactivity leaks. But their tsunami damage is separate to that. I don’t doubt that there’s a load of testing being carried out there!
Maybe new University investigations can be set up.
Doctors can keep everyone informed. They won’t be breaking any oaths. They will only be releasing statistics.
What has happened since any floods within living memory? Was there an increase in certain illnesses?
Advertising and publicity can ask for information from sufferers about their ailments.
Of course, most of the people involved won’t be able to see it through to the end as it will be an ongoing investigation for many years.
It probably won’t find any cures for illnesses, but it may make it possible to recognise and diagnose the symptoms much quicker.
I do hope that a lot of experts take this challenge up.
Please keep me informed. And feel free to contact me in confidence if you want to.