The strength of the British spirit

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There’s one thing I’ll always admire of Britons: their capability of keeping their head up against any adversity life can possibly throw at them.

I was astonished the first time I read about the London Blitz and subsequently watched the videos on YouTube. Over a period of 8 months London was incessantly bombed by the German Luftwaffe, and yet every morning people got off their shelters and wiped out the crumbles that once were their homes, opened their shops – at least those who still had one – sent their kids away, in the countryside, where they could be saved from the death coming down from the skies every night. Shortly, they kept calm and carried on living.

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Rochdale town centre

The night between Christmas and Boxing Day this year the floods that had previously hit Cumbria eventually got to Lancashire and the Greater Manchester – and even further down on the map.
The response of locals was amazing. As rivers’ banks burst and water poured on the streets and into their homes, they put on their wellies, rolled up their sleeves and got started. Manchester was divided by the flooding that hit the city of Salford. People grabbed their raincoats and inflatable boats and joined the rescue teams.

“Bookmakers have slashed tge chances of December being the wettest in history to even odds”Source: Sky News 24.

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Rescuers at work in Radcliffe

People didn’t waste any time in crying or in pulling their hair. It would not have stopped the flood, nor saved the few belongings still in their houses and the elderly trapped in the upper floors. They put any feeling and thought behind and kept working. Manchester community proved itself strong and unified, its citizens working side by side with firefighters to clear the roads.

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Another image of Rochdale town centre, with shops completely flooded

Obviously there have been plenty of online debates, the ancient dispute between North and South coming up once again, this time to discuss on whether this situation could be prevented or not, with some users stating that “in Tory’s South this would never have happened” and some replying quite firmly “remember Somerset a few years back”. Others preferred to remind everyone of the money the Government gave to help the Sirian refugees last fall… with Britons now left without a penny to re-build their homes.

I had a look at BBC website, not too keen to stick to local Manchester Evening News only. I found out that those users could perhaps have a point when they said that they are being forgotten. UK floods news on BBC homepage was a small link shadowed by Texas’ storm, politics, economy and various world news. Clearly what’s happening in England stays in England, and we know where to go if we want to read news about what’s going on here – or so webmasters think, clearly.

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Lowry hotel, Manchester, with Blackfriars St bridge in the background

So many years spent in the UK and yet I still cannot understand how people here can cope with that heart-wrenching feeling in the chest at the sight of their homes being flooded, their lives covered in mud and debris, memories washed away by the dirty water. An inner strenght that keeps them going, and I quite like the idea that some of that composure rooted in me, somewhere. Somehow.

Adopting the same pragmatism shown by local people, in the past 2 days I explored the alternatives I had should my own home and car be hit by the flood. I kept in touch with my neighbours and did my duty by offering help to the areas affected. Needless to say, 48 hours later neighborhoods and streets have been cleaned up, and things are slowly going back to normal. A proof of efficiency Manchester had showed already 5 years ago, when the city was cleaned up less than 12 hours after the riots had wrecked the town centre.

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From the images posted online by local newspapers I saw the block I used to live in Collyhurst towering above a burst Irk, the Lowry Hotel in town surrounded by muddy water, the below stores and garages flooded. I kept an eye on the floods map, as both my house and the company I worked for were marked in orange. It’s not easy when you are some 1.3k miles away.
The pictures taken in those villages I have been in the last few years – Knaresbourough, Middleton, Haworth, Hebden Bridge – shook me and upset me. I can only imagine what kind of feelings their inhabitants must be experiencing. Yet they carry on, they keep cleaning and shovelling, as thinking about what’s lost won’t give them back their homes. For that and for everything else, I admire them so.

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A pub collapsed near Bury after the river burst in
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