Storm Eva: Hope a tumultuous week unfolded in Yorkshire

Members of a Mountain Rescue team paddle along Huntington Road in York, after the River Foss and Ouse burst their banks. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday December 27, 2015. Hundreds more people are being evacuated as flooding continues to cause misery across the north of England. Prime Minister David Cameron will chair a conference call of the Government's emergency Cobra committee as the crisis deepens. Police advised between 300 and 400 people to evacuate in York by the River Ouse and River Foss, with hundreds more believed to be at risk.  Pic: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire
Members of a Mountain Rescue team paddle along Huntington Road in York, after the River Foss and Ouse burst their banks. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Picture date: Sunday December 27, 2015. Hundreds more people are being evacuated as flooding continues to cause misery across the north of England. Prime Minister David Cameron will chair a conference call of the Government's emergency Cobra committee as the crisis deepens. Police advised between 300 and 400 people to evacuate in York by the River Ouse and River Foss, with hundreds more believed to be at risk. Pic: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire
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THE WATER levels are receding but the full cost of the damage wrought by the devastating Boxing Day storms is only just starting to be added up, as communities show great strength to support their neighbours through what is an almighty clear-up operation.

Following a festive period ruined for many by the worst flooding to hit parts of Yorkshire since the Second World War, there is rightly a clamour for the Government to reassess how it manages flooding.

A man wades through flood waters at Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, where flood sirens were sounded after torrential downpours.   Pic: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

A man wades through flood waters at Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire, where flood sirens were sounded after torrential downpours. Pic: Peter Byrne/PA Wire

Shopping streets turned into rivers, collapsed bridges and towering piles of wrecked possessions have become familiar images over the past week in the heart-breaking aftermath of Storm Eva’s 80mph winds and heavy rainfall.

After the devastating scenes in Cumbria where floods meant people had to be rescued from their homes, Yorkshire was battered by extreme weather amidst the height of the festive season on Boxing Day and the clear-up goes on.

Tens of thousands of homes and businesses were flooded and thousands more people suffered power cuts and travel disruption as roads were blocked.

The nightmare unfolded last Saturday when flood sirens rang out in Calderdale, in Walsden, Todmorden, Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd to warn of rising river waters breaching flood defences. Just three years on from major flooding, the district was inundated again, becoming one of the worst hit areas over the weekend.

The Boxing Day floods hit Sowerby Bridge.

The Boxing Day floods hit Sowerby Bridge.

Leeds city centre was put on severe flood alert with the River Aire reaching a record peak on Saturday night of 2.95m at Crown Point - well above its usual height of 0.9m - and results caused chaos for businesses.

In North Yorkshire, rivers became lakes, farmland and fields was submerged, and people and animals stranded.

Footage from the air showed the scale of the River Wharfe’s burst banks in Tadcaster, with beer barrels left floating in a newly formed lake in the yard of a brewery and a Sainsburys supermarket barely visible above the flooded car park.

Between Sherburn-in-Elmet and York, large areas of land were underwater. In the village of Cawood, the road bridge crossing the Ouse was submerged, cutting residents off. A family was seen seeking refuge on the roof of a mobile home with as many belongings as they could salvage.

Rail services across West and North Yorkshire were hit. The line at Kirkstall, Leeds, was four feet underwater on Saturday.

York city centre was effectively closed on Sunday, with visitors advised to steer clear. More than 600 properties were flooded and over 100 more were evacuated when the River Foss flooded.

Areas usually protected from flooding were engulfed with water when the Environment Agency opened the Foss Barrier defence scheme - a step taken because of its flooded control room and eight pumps which pump 32,000 litres of water per second were in danger of failing.

By Monday, some 1,300 properties in Calder Valley were still without power and another 150-plus in York.

Kirkstall Road, one of the main routes into Leeds, finally reopened after being turned into a sea of mud when the nearby Aire flooded. But the damage to local small businesses was extensive with thousands of pounds worth of stock and equipment destroyed in flooded basements.

Businesses and homes in Bingley, Saltaire and Baildon, near Bradford were all badly affected too.

By Tuesday, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service had attended almost 200 incidents, mostly flooding related, since Boxing Day, and the 18th century Tadcaster bridge started to collapse. Soldiers were drafted in to evacuate nearby homes amid fears of a gas explosion.

Elland Bridge, a road bridge and a main route into Elland, near Halifax, was closed after the carriageway partly gave way after the floods.

Routes including Scout Road, at Mytholmroyd, were closed because of a landslide.

Some reports also emerged of looting at flood-hit premises.

As the extent of the disaster sinks in, pressure has built on the Government to look again at its approach to flooding this week. Prime Minister David Cameron was heckled on Monday when he visited communities hit by the floods in York.

Accused of a North-South divide in funding for flood defences, Mr Cameron claimed his government spends more per head on flood defences in the North than it does in the South, with plans to spend £280m more on defences in the North in this Parliament.

The Environment Secretary Liz Truss also visited Leeds and York to see the damage first hand before Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn did the same on Thursday.

December’s floods could cost the economy as much as £1.5bn, accountancy firm PwC warned, while KPMG said the total cost to Britain of this year’s floods, and clean-up operation, could swell to a total of £5.8bn.