Describe and compare the primary and secondary effects of flooding in Boscastle/ Cornwall, August 2004 to Bangladesh, 2004.

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In 2004, the primary effect of floods in the Boscastle/ Cornwall region came about because of unprecedented rainfall. By many accounts, "Over 60 mm of rainfall (typically a month's rainfall) fell in two hours."  Prior to that, rain levels had been very high that month, making the ground already saturated with water. Geography played a role in exacerbating the flood conditions as the confluence of three rivers- Valency, Jordan, and Paradise- had already crested. The result was that even more water overcame the towns in a small period of time. Insufficient water drainage systems were no match for rising waters.  The primary effect of the Boscastle/ Cornwall flood was property damage: "Six properties were destroyed outright. Most others will require between £15,000 and £30,000 for repairs."  The infrastructure of the region was also damaged, such as telephone lines, roads, and bridges.  The damage of both personal and municipal property enhanced the secondary effects of the Boscastle/ Cornwall flooding. The decrease in tourism was a significant secondary effect of the flood.  Interestingly enough, a secondary effect of the flood was fortification and reinvestment in civic development that was more mindful of flood conditions. Underground pumping systems were developed to help deal with future run off and government assistance enabled financial losses for some to be recovered and initiate future development. It is significant to note that while there was damage, there was no loss of life.  Given the intensity of the flood, there was proper notification given to residents, civic agencies were there to assist individuals who were in the path of the water, and aid through both helicopter and efficient public servants such as firefighters and police helped to coordinate efforts where loss of life was not a primary effect.

The same could not be said for Bangladesh in 2004.  Similar to Boscastle/ Cornwall flood, the confluence of rivers- Ganges, Brahmaputra and Meghna- helped to increase the deadly nature of the floods.  At the same time, Bangladesh is a very low lying area, with  25 per cent of Bangladesh at less than 1 m above sea level.  An infrastructure that lacked adequate drainage, without adequate drainage, 36 million people (25% of the total population) were affected by the 2004 flood.  The death count was over 800 people.  Both of these reflect the primary effect of flooding. At the same time, thousands of already impoverished farmers saw their crops, such as rice, destroyed.  This constituted both a primary effect and a secondary effect, for future generations of farmers were pushed even further into poverty. Bangladesh lacked localized coordinated rescue and notification efforts, contributing to the loss of life. Unlike the MEDC experience in England, Bangladesh is an LEDC, where government aid that could enhance development in the wake of the flood is impossible.  Flat floodplains are desirable for farmers, making them more susceptible to the effect of flooding.  In England, underground pumps can be built to help offset future flood potential. Being a more developed nation, England is able to take steps to help the Boscastle/ Cornwall guard against damage from future floods.  This is not the case in Bangladesh, where poverty and a lack of economic development precludes much in way of government help. Floods and natural calamity are seen in both experiences. Yet, economic conditions frame both narratives in vastly different ways.

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