Today the Centre of Looe floods up to 8 times a year – in less than 50 years time it will flood 60 times a year. By 2080 the town could see a 2104 style ” big storm” every single year.
Looe has an unwelcome history of flooding. During the fortnightly spring tides, the sea routinely reaches the top of the quayside walls. When a storm occurs at the same time, the water comes over the quay wall and floods the surrounding areas. Environment Agency records show that currently the Centre of the town typically floods four to eight times a year, putting more than 200 properties at risk.
Looe has been “lucky” on several occasions since 2014 where surges have not combined with high tides. In February 2020 the flooding, although significant, could have been so much worse.
The resilience of local residents, armed with sandbags and flood barriers, may well be enough to protect the town from all but the most severe storms today. However, the impact of climate change, with sea levels expected to rise by over one metre during the next 100 years, means that in less than 50 years most of the town will flood more often and to a greater depth, meaning that sandbags and flood boards become less effective.
This will see key areas such as the health centre, the police and fire stations, the main food stores and cafes and the fish market, the main roads, the Harbour and Millpool car parks and the railway line under water on storm and high tide days.
The only way to ensure the future of Looe for the children and grandchildren of the people who live here now is to adapt to rising sea levels and the increasing risk of flood, taking steps to manage the risk now to allow time for the community to adapt to the new normal.
Visit https://letstalk.cornwall.gov.uk/looe-flood-defence to find out more
You can also watch a short film about flooding in Looe here https://youtu.be/6gfCtWmPC-4