Clean-up starts as communities count cost of flood devastation

Ellen Limebear cleans out her shop after the floods

AFTER the floods came the great clean-up this weekend, as households and businesses across the region were faced with ruined possessions and inches of filthy floodwater.

One of the worst-hit areas was the Calder Valley, as the River Calder rose to a record high of 3.2 metres after torrential rainfall on Friday night.

Some parts of Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Sowerby Bridge and Todmorden were covered in waist-high water, which left behind it a trail of destruction.

Businessman Marcus Doyle said that his Home...Oh shop in Hebden Bridge, part of the Yorkshire Soap Company, was a “complete write-off”.

He added: “I’d say Home...Oh has lost £20,000 worth of stock and the Yorkshire Soap Company has lost the same again. You can see the tidemark a foot up on the building.”

However, the 37-year-old said he saw optimism in the face of the devastation.

He added: “I think the floods will change Hebden as a town, for the better. It’s bringing everyone together.

“Hebden Bridge has always been a close town, but the atmosphere now is like after a war. There’s tremendous support from the community.”

He added that passers-by were stopping to donate to an impromptu sale set up by the Yorkshire Soap Company, proceeds of which will go towards those whose homes were ruined.

“We’ve heard there’s about 400 families who have been affected,” he said. “Everything we raise will be going straight into an emergency flood fund to help them.”

Other businesses to be affected in Hebden Bridge included the Heart Gallery, close to Home...Oh in Market Street.

Alison Bartram, from the gallery, said there had been some criticism of Calderdale Council for not delivering sandbags quickly enough, but added that the authority’s clean-up team had done a “fabulous” job.

She said yesterday: “This morning, they were sweeping the roads and pavements, and the way it looks now, you wouldn’t think that Friday happened. They’ve done a cracking job.”

Ms Bartram added: “The water came up just over a foot at the back and we’ve lost a lot of stock. We didn’t get any sandbags delivered on Friday night, and when I rang up for some on Saturday – as we thought more rain was coming – I was told by the council they’d run out, and to get to a builder’s merchants.”

The fifth annual Handmade Parade, due to take place in Hebden Bridge on Saturday, has been postponed until next Saturday.

Roads that were closed on Friday night were all reopened on Saturday, and a Calderdale Council spokesman said they should be “passable with care”.

Meanwhile, those who escaped their homes at the height of the floods were temporarily put up in venues including Todmorden Leisure Centre and Calder High School.

West Yorkshire firefighters were overwhelmed by 210 calls between 6pm and midnight on Friday.

The service’s boats, based at Bingley and Brighouse, were sent to assist in the operation and one crew rescued six people trapped on a barge in a lock near Callis Bridge, Hebden Bridge.

Crews with a Combined Aerial Rescue Pump rescued a man from floodwater near Walton Street in Sowerby Bridge, while crews also attended Dewsbury Sports Centre, where the basement was flooded.

On Saturday, firefighters remained pumping out properties in Hebden Bridge; Green Hill Industrial Estate in Burnley Road, Mytholmroyd; and Commercial Street, Todmorden.

Group manager Nigel Hotson, Calderdale District Commander, said: “It was a very difficult and challenging evening, but the flooding was dealt with professionally and efficiently.”

Members of the West Yorkshire 4x4 Volunteer Group were also contacted by police to assist in the rescue operation. Volunteer Andy Walker, 61, from Mirfield said “In some areas, the waters were over the bonnet of my Land Cruiser, but with our specialist training we were able to get through and provide the help needed.”

In Allerton Bywater, near Castleford, homes and businesses narrowly avoided serious problems after firefighters provided emergency help before Environment Agency staff provided pumps to clear water from the streets. Water entered only one or two buildings, according to parish council chairman Stephen Murray.

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