Environment Agency warns of future flash flooding a year after devastating floods

Floodwaters surrounds local shops in the centre of Mytholmroyd after torrential downpours brought flooding to the Calder Valley in 2012
Floodwaters surrounds local shops in the centre of Mytholmroyd after torrential downpours brought flooding to the Calder Valley in 2012

Almost a year after the first of three floods devastated the upper Calder Valley residents will today be told about another very real threat - flash flooding.

The Environment Agency and Calderdale Council will be in St George’s Square, Hebden Bridge, from 10am to 3pm to speak to residents affected by last summer’s floods and give advice on how to best protect their homes and businesses.

Hebden Bridge was badly hit by flash floods last summer, leaving many properties flooded. At Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd and Sowerby Bridge, rivers reached the highest levels ever recorded. Levels reached 3.311m at Hebden Bridge, some 0.285m higher than June 2000 - the last time the town experienced flooding.

Heavy rain in June and July caused flooding to around 800 properties in West and South Yorkshire, mostly in Calderdale. Homes and businesses in neighbouring Mytholmroyd, Todmorden and Eastwood were also severely affected but, fortunately, no lives were lost.

The Calder Valley is particularly susceptible to flash flooding which leaves communities vulnerable, said Oliver Harmar, Flood and Coastal Risk Manager for the Environment Agency.

“Flash floods carry immense power. They can move rocks, tear out trees, sweep away vehicles and destroy buildings and bridges in minutes and they can be a significant threat to life,” said Mr Harmar.

“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.”

Since last year’s floods, the Environment Agency, Calderdale Council, the Canal and Rivers Trust and Yorkshire Water have together spent more than £3 million repairing damage caused by the storms.

However, irrespective of how much is invested in river defences and upgrading road and other drainage systems, there can never be any guarantees that flooding will not happen again in extreme weather conditions.

So, to mark the first anniversary of the first of last year’s three major floods in the Upper Calder Valley which occurred on Friday, June 22, the Environment Agency and its partners are launching an engagement campaign to warn of the dangers of flash flooding and to help advise people how they can be prepared to reduce their personal risk. Community engagement officers will be out organising a number of community meetings to talk to local communities and businesses to help them develop flood action plans in a number of areas.

The event will feature a giant pair of wellington boots as part of a one-year flash flooding awareness campaign.

The Environment Agency has identified a large number of communities across the Yorkshire and North East region as being vulnerable to flash floods, which can happen with little or no warning during heavy rainstorms.

• Will you be at the event? Tweet us @HebdenBrTimes or @TodmordenNews1

• See your Hebden Bridge Times and Todmorden News on Thursday for five pages of reaction on the 2012 floods and what has happened since.