Calder Valley floods: businesses reflect on a tough year

Flood anniversary. Abid Hussain at Hussain Bros shop, Halifax Road, Todmorden
Flood anniversary. Abid Hussain at Hussain Bros shop, Halifax Road, Todmorden

When staff at many businesses arrived for work on the morning of Saturday, June 23, 2012, they were faced with scenes of total devastation.

But for many, that initial feeling of despair has gradually turned to hope over the past year as they have re-opened and are looking forward to the future.

Paul Ridgway, of Russell Dean in Mytholmroyd, said the last 12 months have been difficult.

Staff at the showroom had to replace items of flood damaged furniture, fit new windows and redecorate the ground floor of the building, on Burnley Road.

Thanks to a team effort from all the staff, and some customers, it was able to have a grand re-opening ten weeks later.

“It took a lot of effort to turn the shop around so quickly,” he said.

“Through hard work we managed to keep going.

“I saw it happening on the night but there was nothing we could do about it.

“Coming in it was quite astonishing really, seeing how much water had got inside the store. “There was a layer of silt and it was already starting to smell a bit. It was disgusting.

“Thankfully a lot of our really nice customers were here and offered to come and help out.

“We very quickly put a plan of action together.

“There was no sulking. We immediately got stuck in.”

Abid Hussain, of Hussain Brothers convenience store on Halifax Road, Todmorden, was preparing to close for the night when the flood struck.

It was the fourth time he has been affected by flooding.

“It was a really bad experience,” he said.

“I lost a lot of stuff in my hardware section.

“Luckily it happened at 8.30pm and everybody was around to help.

“Luckily I have a great family and friends who helped me to clean up around the clock for three days.

“We were open again a couple of days later.

“If that flood had happened after 9pm, I don’t think I would have opened again.”

Like many businesses, Abid is facing increased insurance premiums.

“It’s getting to the stage where I’ll be unable to afford insurance,” he said.

“It’s already gone up three hundred per cent. It’s getting ridiculous.”

He hopes the flood alleviation work being carried out in the upper Calder Valley prevents it happening again.

Although it has been a problematic time for many businesses, some have embraced it as an opportunity to develop.

Sid Jones, of Muse Music on Market Street, Hebden Bridge, saw his shop badly affected by the flood.

During the refurbishment, he incorporated a new cafe for customers to sit and relax, which has helped to attract more people to the shop. “It’s been an opportunity in disguise really,” Sid said. “We have re-imagined the business and actually improved it.

“You can’t argue with nature but you can keep it out of your door.

“The vast majority of people who come in are actually very impressed with it. Some of my regulars have said it’s a triumph.

“We are picking up some new customers now. We are seeing not just people from the local area but from all corners of the country.”

Throughout the difficulties of the past year, Sid said there has been a great sense of community spirit, with people doing all they can to support each other.

He is also full of praise for Calderdale Council, whose Rise Fund has helped many businesses get back on their feet.

“I think they deserve congratulating,” he said.