Storm Ciara damage shows Yorkshire flood defences are not fit for purpose, Government must act - Mark Casci

Have your say

“Indefensible” ran the headline in the YP’s sister title the Yorkshire Evening Post in late 2015 after flood waters inundated the city.

The front page image of the city’s Kirkstall Road under water, along with what the New York Times called a “thundering editorial” went viral around the world as the region suffered horrendous flooding that directly impacted the lives of thousands of homes and businesses.

Mytholmroyd - pic Daisy Brasington

Mytholmroyd - pic Daisy Brasington

The floods prompted the then Prime Minister David Cameron to visit the region and promises were made of vast upgrades to the flood defence network.

As the rain continues to batter the windows of The Yorkshire Post newsroom we are once again as a region counting the cost of another devastating series of floodings and are forced to once again use the indefensible wording again.

Storm Ciara caused widespread disruption across our region on Sunday, with winds of up to 80mph being felt in some areas.

As all commuters will know, the disruption from the storm has been massive with hundreds of railway journeys cancelled and road routes clogged far more than normal.

YEP front page from 2015

YEP front page from 2015

But as the storm blows itself out the real cost becomes apparent to the region as, for the second time in five years, we begin the clean up process caused by devastating deluges of flood waters.

In the Calder Valley alone, this has happened to some for the second time in less than half a decade.

It also comes just a few weeks after residents in South Yorkshire endured a similar disaster, with Fishlake near Doncaster suffering horrendous damage. However this time around however the word indefensible can also be applied to the attention the destruction has brought.

The storm of course impacted on the entire country, with weather warnings issued for the length and breadth of the nation.

Floods in Calder Valley - Daisy Brasington

Floods in Calder Valley - Daisy Brasington

But on the evening news there was as much interest in commuters waiting at Euston Station due to cancelled trains as there was on the fact that people’s homes had been inundated.

What kind of message does this send?

Is the need to stay an extra night in a hotel somehow comparable to having one’s home literally washed away?

With climate change now being felt on our shores we need to come to terms with the fact that Storm Ciara will no longer be a once a generation occurrence.

Getty Images picture

Getty Images picture

Storms like Ciara will become more commonplace and ferocious.

And with that, we need those in power to reconcile urgently that the flood defence measures in place for the majority of Yorkshire are simply not fit for purpose.

The Calder Valley in particular deserves better.

What chance does this region stand of attracting investment, jobs and industry when it is so imperilled by the weather?

So to for the prospects of people moving to the region.

Why would anyone consider buying a property in an area which has been extensively flooded twice in five years?

Mytholmroyd - pic Daisy Brasington

Mytholmroyd - pic Daisy Brasington

This prohibitive state of affairs is a disaster for local employers who will find accessing the best talent increasingly a hard sale.

If there is no intervention then the glorious land that inspired the works of Ted Hughes, Sylvia Plath and Emily Bronte is destined to become a place for which a vibrant future looks a bleak prospect.

The example of the Calder Valley could not just end there.

Storm Ciara also lashed the Yorkshire Dales with unrelenting ferocity.

While not as populous as say the Calder Valley or other urbanised areas it is still a vital cog of Yorkshire’s tourism industry.

And let us not forget that parts of Yorkshire’s biggest city Leeds only avoided widespread flooding by the skin of its teeth.

A radical rethink of the measures needed to protect our region from flooding is required.

I am not asking for space age technologies.

Take a look at what is currently on offer to our capital city, as but one example.

When the will exists so to does the solution.

The question is just how valuable is Yorkshire as compared with London? Time will tell.

Railway tracks in Leeds

Railway tracks in Leeds