Flooding in the Calder Valley: Christmas 2015

Here we go again but there are some differences to 2012. It seems to be more localised and more serious. The centre of Hebden Bridge was devastated as were some other areas along the bottom of the valley. My son was trying to get home (with his family) on Boxing Day and took some mobile phone video footage of the volume and speed of water coming over the road and down the canal by the Golden Lion in the middle of Todmorden. On Sunday, I struggled to get along the valley road to go to a meeting about the flooding.

People have been brilliant. The community has come together but it’s still heartbreaking to see houses that were flooded in 2012, flooded again. This time we know how long it’s likely to take to get their houses habitable again.

And then there’s the shops and businesses, especially in Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd. The tide mark on the shops along Market St is at least twice as high as their floodboards in the doors. But they’ve cleaned out quickly and have started to put the buildings to rights. The question is what help they need to begin to trade again. From 2012, we’ve begun to get Business Forums going in each area and we need to build on this. I’d like to see some local capacity in this, some real help that doesn’t depend on busy business people having to do it all themselves. I hope that they’ll be open by Easter.

The Council (together with the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water, Canal and Rivers Trust and Network Rail) now has to get down to the serious business of examining what happened and what’s needed to not only repair the damage but also give us more protection against future events like this. And taking climate change seriously has to be part of it, in my opinion.

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