Authorities warn of dangers of flash flooding as anniversary looms

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.

To mark the one year anniversary of the first flood, Calderdale Council and the Environment Agency, Yorkshire Water and Canal and River Trust, as well as local flood groups, visited Hebden Bridge to raise awareness of flooding and encourage residents and businesses to be prepared.

Environment Agency and Calderdale Council in St George's Square, Hebden Bridge, to mark anniversary of 2013 floods.

Environment Agency and Calderdale Council in St George's Square, Hebden Bridge, to mark anniversary of 2013 floods.

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.

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.”