The River Thames flood barrier has been used a near-record breaking number of times in 2014 due to the river reaching the highest level it’s been for 10 years. The Tech21 team on Eel Pie Island have tackled the high tides by further expanding their team work and bridge building skills in order to reach the office. (We can confirm that the more successful constructions were those created from old Christmas trees, sand bags, logs and pieces of fencing).
The Thames flood barrier boasts an incredible structure, being one of the largest of its kind in the world. At an incredible 520 metres long, it’s capable of protecting 125 square kilometers of our capital. According to the Environment Agency, it’s as high as a 5-storey building when it’s at its full capacity, taking 10 minutes to close each gate, and one and a half hours to close and employ the whole structure. The vast capacity of water the barrier is able to hold enables it to protect the land of our city, and Eel Pie Island, but excess water still causes severe flooding: see our CEO and Office Assistant starring in the Daily Mail Online!
How Does the Flood Barrier Work?
It's made up of 10 solid steel gates which each way a remarkable 3,300 tonnes. They work by rotating up and down depending on the tide, and sit within the river bed when they’re not in use. Each gate has a pier (which is what is visible above the surface of the water), and can be controlled by rocker beams which are attached to the pier. When the gates are in full use, they can hold an incredible 90,000 tonnes of water away from our homes.
As a result of the heavy rainfall we’ve experienced so far this year, the barrier has been closed fourteen times already. As sea levels continue to rise, the Environmental Agency has expressed some concern about plans for the barrier in the future. A team of civil engineers have been hired to come up with a solution that will account for rising water and protect the land for the next hundred years.
As for our Eel Pie Island, the Agency is considering beginning a project to raise buildings and place them on stilts to protect them from the river’s increasingly high tides.