It wouldn’t be surprising if by the time many readers scan these words Storm Ciaran is fading from memory. A week is a long time in meteorology.

For many others though the consequences are still with them. Flooded cellars and ground floors, country lanes impassable for a week, railways that only half-functioned for a couple of days.

Many communities took the wise decision to postpone or cancel firework displays, not because the weather on the 5th was still blowing a gale but because the locations of the already constructed bonfires were surrounded by water and the usual parking was a bog.

At East Devon Council it was all hands-on deck. You may have noticed that waste and recycling collection was put back a day or two. It was very impressive that the on-the-ground management and workers were keen to deliver the usual service, but our senior officers had seen pretty awful advance reports and rightly put safety first. These are difficult choices.

Meanwhile, coastal towns such as Exmouth, Sidmouth and Seaton were left in no doubt what a storm coming in off the Atlantic and torrential rain combining can mean. Many readers may not be aware that although the government’s Environment Agency is the lead entity for Seaton, Exmouth and Sidmouth falls mainly to the district council.

To an extent, we will be able to draw down on government funding for repairs to damage, but this felt like the ultimate wake-up call that government needs to enable a fully co-ordinated pro-active works programme to bolster sea defences. At the moment, many agencies are doing their best and there is a good deal of co-operation. It is not enough.

Unfortunately, this aspect of the Climate Crisis – like many others – is not coming down the line in a few years but is here and now with us today. We’re all aware that there are parts of the North Sea coast which are being allowed now simply to wash into the sea – and to be frank it’s hard to see an alternative.

But the coastal towns in East Devon are not at that position yet. Yes, from each one it is possible to see evidence of cliffs crumbling away yearly, and we must do what we can to defend against that. However, the seafronts and central towns themselves need multi-million pound work now. It will be money well invested, saving whole communities and businesses.

At the district my Democratic Alliance colleague and portfolio holder, Geoff Jung, is known as the local King Cnut. He is now in his fifth year of working superbly with officers to cover all this. Last week was a brilliant example. Rather than just wait for the storm to hit, it was realised that recent cracks in the Exmouth seawall could give further serious problems without fast action.

Exmouth residents may well have seen all the marine engineers and equipment down there in the days before Storm Ciaran hit building an extra layer of temporary protection, and thankfully it worked.

Of course, this all costs money, and as mentioned earlier Seaton was badly hit but as the sea wall is the responsibility of the government the district has a secondary role. In my view the time has come for a high-level meeting with the local MPs – both Conservative and Liberal Democrat – and with all the local stakeholders to devise some new policy around this.

At present, coastal flood protection all feels piecemeal with no governing vision. Storm Ciaran just gave us a powerful warning from nature. Now is the time to take heed and join together in positive, party-neutral action.