Flooding in Calderdale – one year on

Following the devastating floods in the Upper Calder Valley in 2012, significant progress has been made through a partnership of organisations, in the ongoing recovery efforts and planning for longer term investment.

A giant pair of blue wellingtons

To mark the one year anniversary of the first flood, Calderdale Council and the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water, Canal & River Trust and Community Foundation, as well as local flood groups, visited Hebden Bridge today (Tuesday 18 June 2013) to raise awareness of flooding and encourage residents and businesses to be prepared.

In particular, the Environment Agency talked to local people about a new campaign to highlight the dangers of flash flooding and how they can be more prepared to reduce their personal risk.

People also heard about a grant of over £300,000 that has been secured from DEFRA to work with the local community to develop future flood resilience and community preparedness over the next two years. This is part of DEFRA’s ‘Pathfinder’ pilot scheme, and will include looking at flood insurance for properties, improving household and business resilience and how better upland land management can help slow down surface water.

Over the last 12 months, a lot has been achieved. Through the RISE grant, the Council awarded over £200,000 to around 150 businesses to help get them back up and running. Below, Caroline Kindy shares the story of how her business, Element Jewellery in Hebden Bridge, was affected by flooding and how she was supported to start trading again.

The Valley of Lights spectacular, which attracted an estimated 12,000 visitors over three evenings in Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd, also demonstrated that the valley is back open for business.

Three community-led local flood groups in Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd have been set up, and several new flood wardens recruited. A series of public drop-in sessions have been held to help people prepare for future flooding, giving timely and important information.

The total cost of the initial repair works was at least £3 million by the Council, Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water and the Canal & River Trust. During the next 12 months, further minor works will be carried out across the valley and a longer term flood investment plan will be developed, which will set out an 8 – 10 year plan of investment required by partners to reduce the impact of future flooding. Current indications are that around £42 million will be needed to deliver this.

Calderdale Council’s Leader, Cllr Tim Swift, said:

“Looking back over the last 12 months, a lot has been done to get the Upper Calder Valley back on its feet – this is thanks to organisations and the local community working together to ensure a speedy recovery. But we know there is still more to be done, and we are committed to a long-term programme of work to minimise the impact of future flooding.”

Talking about the new flash flooding campaign, Oliver Harmar from the Environment Agency said:

“Flash floods carry immense power. They can move rocks, tear out trees, sweep away vehicles and destroy buildings and bridges in minutes. We want to increase awareness of the dangers in vulnerable areas and give people some guidance as to how they can develop their own action plan to keep themselves and their families safe if such events occur.”

Environment Minister, Richard Benyon, said:

“I’m delighted that Calderdales Community Pathfinder Project is being launched today with £310,000 support from Defra. The project will support local Flood Action Groups, help to get the message out to residents in an emergency and provide advice to people about how they can prepare if the worst does happen. Having seen the flood damage for myself last summer, I commend the hard work of all in Calder Valley who have ensured that the area is open for business and better prepared and protected for the future.”

David Baldacchino, Waterway Manager, Manchester & Pennine Waterways at the Canal & River Trust, said:

“The Trust spent £500,000 to repair the 200-year-old canal following last summers severe weather, which caused significant damage to the wash walls and towpath along the Rochdale canal and was a big investment of the newly formed charity.”

For more information about flood resilience and how to prepare for the risk of flooding, visit Flooding: Be prepared

CASE STUDY – Element Jewellery’s story

Caroline Kindy in her renovated shop

When the floods hit last summer, Element Jewellery in Hebden Bridge lost stock and had to close temporarily. With the help of a RISE grant from Calderdale Council, a very supportive landlord and insurance company, as well as support from the wider business community, they were able to trade from pop-up premises, restore the boutique to its former glory and be back in business within three months. A year on, Element Jewellery is now back on track, with a fabulous new shop design. The grant money they received helped to establish a publicity and awareness campaign via social media, and the purchase of flood defence equipment. They now feel stronger than ever going into their second decade of trading.

Caroline Kindy, owner of Element Jewellery, said:

“When I first found out that the shop had flooded, I couldn’t believe it. It was full of floodwater and dirt, and a lot of our stock, fixtures and fittings were damaged and had to be thrown away. We lost a lot of business. But I now see the flood as a cloud with a silver lining. Money from the Council has not only helped protect the property from future flooding; it has also enabled us to become more connected with the community and customers through social media – something that we will use to take the business to the next level.”

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