The rain came but community spirit shone all through town

Pictures taken at the Todmorden Town Hall flood help, advice and rest centre by Deputy Mayor of Todmorden Coun Tony Greenwood

Pictures taken at the Todmorden Town Hall flood help, advice and rest centre by Deputy Mayor of Todmorden Coun Tony Greenwood

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The rain came, but it did not dampen the community spirit of this town.

That is the powerful message from the Mayor of Todmorden, Councillor Steph Booth, in the wake of the devastating Boxing Day floods which engulfed the borough.

Pictures taken at the Todmorden Town Hall flood help, advice and rest centre by Deputy Mayor of Todmorden Coun Tony Greenwood

Pictures taken at the Todmorden Town Hall flood help, advice and rest centre by Deputy Mayor of Todmorden Coun Tony Greenwood

Now as the mammoth clean-up continues and those affected begin the long journey of recovery, the mayor has praised the efforts and resilience of Todmorden residents in the face of disaster.

“What an amazing community this is, they are absolutely amazing,” Coun Booth said. “I’m not often moved to tears, but the day after Boxing Day I had gone home after staying in the Town Hall. I came back and I was just moved by the sheer humanity of it all.

“One of the best things has been the co-operation, people coming in and offering to help, it has just been fantastic.

“People just got on with what they were doing. The rain came, but it did not dampen the community spirit of this town.

Ray Barber of Todmorden Angling Society took this photograph of the breach of the Rochdale Canal on Boxing Day 2015

Ray Barber of Todmorden Angling Society took this photograph of the breach of the Rochdale Canal on Boxing Day 2015

“I’m really proud to be the Mayor of Todmorden.”

The town hall immediately became the focal point of Todmorden’s flood relief effort, with volunteers gathering there to do their bit,

It also became a place of refuge for those forced to flee their homes as river levels rose to record levels. That was the case for some Mytholmroyd residents who slept in the mayor’s parlour.

As Todmorden looks to the future, Coun Booth has called for grassroots consultation, with money spent at the grassroots level.

She said: “I think we have to be realistic - we cannot stop the floods but what we can do is mitigate the consequences.

“We need to manage the moorland, we need to plant trees, we need to divert the water so homes are not the holding station.

“We need to learn lessons and we are going to hold a meeting to see what we can do in the community.

“We now need volunteers to help us create emergency boxes. We found that people were coming in and they were in such a state of shock that they couldn’t choose what they needed.

“We will create these boxes, so when it happens again, we can just hand these boxes over to people. That’s not all they would get, but it’s important they can have something.

“We have to realise that it is traumatic. Yes it’s the couches and the fridges, but it’s also the things that make up a person’s life.

“It’s the letters, the photographs, the stuff pinned to the fridge that the grandkids have drawn.

“It’s your life and who you are and it just gets washed away. We need to help people with the material things, but it’s also the emotional stuff and we need to be aware of it.”

The Hippodrome Theatre, one of the largest community owned and run theatres in the UK, fell victim to the floods and will be closed for several months while repairs are carried out.

As a charity, the theatre will now have to find money for works not covered by insurance. The closure is likely to have a dramatic affect on the town - many events have had to be cancelled including the popular annual pantomime.

A statement on its website read: “Thanks to the valiant efforts of our members we managed to save lots of the contents but we couldn’t hold the water back. Every part of the ground floor of the theatre, including all the stalls seating, were damaged by the flood water. In the dressing rooms the water was over 4ft deep.”

Despite the damage, volunteers are working hard to get the theatre back on its feet and its promised the Hippodrome will come back fighting.

Engineers from the Canal and River Trust are on site assessing damage caused to the Rochdale Canal by flooding.

A 15 metre section of the canal bank between Locks 16 and 17 has breached and a landslip has blocked the navigation between locks 15 and 16, along with significant damage to the towpath and wash walls.

The trust says it has begun the clean-up operation where it can and has arranged for materials to be delivered along the canal to surface repairs can begin.

The trust thanked all volunteers who have come forward to help.

Meanwhile, £100 has been raised at Todmorden Market for the Calderdale Flood Relief Appeal. You can help raise funds again this weekend by visting the TLC stall on Todmorden Sunday Market.

Todmorden Indoor Market is open as usual from Wednesday to Saturday, 9am-5pm.