Remember this. It wasn't all that long ago. But six months is a long time to a politician.
Today is the last of June. Tomorrow marks the first of July and the beginning of the second half of the year.
It has now been six months since the floods of Somerset. Four months since the disaster was considered to be abating. The flood waters have receded to reveal ruined crops, a hundred thousand acres of mud, pollution, contamination and devastation.
Entire communities along the coast saw their lives disrupted. Fishermen and farmers and a thousand other businesses lost vast amounts of money.
For weeks the Westminster types and the Political class ignored the situation. A bunch of hicks in the South West getting wet. Hardly worth lifting their noses out of the trough for. Then the floods hit London and suddenly it was a disaster and the government was riding to the rescue.
“Money is no object” says Dave before his lackeys jumped in and added cravats and limitations to that statement. Still numbers were mentioned and people had hope that they would be able to recover, because they were voters and tax payers, the government wouldn't ignore them. Would it?
Well as usual when it’s a politician and his lips are moving, it’s a lie.
As Labour was trying to point out in parliament two weeks ago the number of people who have been helped is tiny, the number of people still waiting is vast.
Here in Zumerzet far more people have not been paid that those who have. The complaints are many but all have the same theme. Trying to claim money involves a ridiculously complex bureaucratic process that is crushingly slow once all the forms are filled in and which is all but impossible to talk to.
Many have simply given up rather than keep trying to claim the £5000 which is in many cases just a tiny part of what they have lost.
Others who have managed to apply find that in many cases there is no system in place to actually pay them.
As of tomorrow we will be in July. Slightly more than 5% of the promised money will have been paid out. The fund to pay fishermen for lost of business and stock or tools of the trade has managed to pay just a few thousand pounds.
On the 28th of February 2014 the fund was opened to applications from people in the South West who had suffered from the storms and floods. It closed for applications on 27th June 2014, Friday just gone.
Over the course of four months there is still no effective system in place to make the payments, no system to claim that does not involve a mass of government hoops and a lot of jumping. In fact the whole thing is just another example of this governments attitude towards those in need. Make it as difficult as possible to get help and hope they go away.
Farmers who suffered hundreds of thousands of pounds of damages have been rebuilding where they can. The ‘Official’ support fund has been sitting on thousands of applications for four months now with not a sign of a payout anywhere.
Farmers who are looking at a one or two year process to recover fields now overgrown with weeds and wild flowers as soon as the floods went down are having to wait months for support they needed in March of this year.
As of tomorrow we will be five months away from this winter’s storms. If we have a repeat of the weather and a return of the floods we could still have people waiting for money from last year’s floods getting flooded again. Many of these farms and businesses will not survive a second flood without support; many are not surviving now while they wait in vain for the promised government funds.
How many companies have gone under because of the floods six months ago, I don’t know. But there are many reporting they are about to go under and many more that are struggling.
So why are these people who are still cleaning up from the floods six months ago being given the run around by Westminster. Is it because it’s the most intolerant and self focused government in decades? Is it because a politicians promises are not to be trusted and Dave’s word is so much hot air? Or is it because it’s the South West and the men in taxpayer funded suits drinking subsidised Champers with their subsidised meals in Parliament cannot see the peasants all the way over here in the sticks?
If we have a repeat of the storms this year and anywhere close to the same floods you can basically write off much of the Somerset levels as far as agricultural land goes. They are finding Insurance will no longer cover floods and the government is sitting on its hands and doing nothing. Without the farms and businesses of the South West cannot survive another year like this one and as they go and the income and jobs they bring to the region goes, what then?
It took many long weeks before anyone bothered this year. Will next year be any better?
Given the government response to helping this year, I doubt it.