And lest we get too complacent…

… see this column by Polly Toynbee in today’s Guardian. Sample:

Before we get too piously smug about America, just imagine a flood crashing through the Thames barrier and drowning London and Essex. What would we see? Essentially the same thing, even if mayor Ken Livingstone did evacuation well. The middle classes would escape to friends and relatives. The poor who have no networks beyond other poor people would collect in camps. They would be as pitifully helpless and there would be millions of them too. In New Orleans people couldn’t get away for lack of the price of a taxi out of town. In London too, floods would expose what is hidden to well-off Britain because we also live strictly segregated lives. Housing-estate ghettoes are never entered by the 75% homeowners, places hidden even in the next street.

Poor London victims would also have nothing more than the clothes they stood in. Nationally 27% of people have no savings, not one penny; 25% of the poorest have at least £200 in debts, which would track them down to their refugee camps; 12% of households (many more individuals) have no bank account – even for those with basic accounts, banks never lend so much as a bus fare to those who most need it. A quarter of households have no insurance; they would lose everything.