There is something uniquely traumatic about being forced from your home by floods. You endure the shock of seeing your property engulfed by water. Then you leave your life behind and you know that nothing will return to normal without a long and costly clean-up.
Across England 1,000 properties have been flooded, the vast majority of which – 70 per cent - are in Yorkshire.
When I visited Fishlake, waterlogged fields and flooded homes lay all around. St Cuthbert’s church was filled with donated food, clothes and bottled water.
Nearby in Stainforth community centre, people who had evacuated their inundated homes were being given shelter. But the road to Fishlake was impassable by anything except four-wheel-drive vehicles. People told me that months may pass before their homes are fully habitable again.
We must do everything possible to protect against future flooding and speed up the recovery time. So I can announce today that flood-hit homes and businesses will be eligible for Government grants of up to £5,000 for new resilience measures.
This money will help people with the cost of installing precautions like flood doors or raised electrical systems. Steps of this kind will reduce any damage that could be caused by future floods and accelerate any clean-ups, enabling people to return to their homes more quickly.
The Government will operate the scheme from the end of this month, with councils in charge of issuing the grants through local initiatives. In some areas of Yorkshire, a month’s worth of rain fell in the space of a single day. So we know that Yorkshire needs significant support to recover.
It’s our job to do all we can to help local people and businesses, and the additional funding we’re announcing today will help to better protect people and reduce the risk of flooding for these homes in the future.
We have activated an emergency scheme allowing local authorities to reclaim their flood-related costs from the Government. We will be offering grants of up to £25,000 to farmers badly affected by the floods. And we have ensured that affected homes and companies are eligible for relief from council tax and business rates.
A Community Recovery Grant and a Business Recovery Grant will support the efforts of local councils to get households and small businesses back on their feet. As I write, teams from the Environment Agency are hard at work across the country, doing everything possible to reduce flood damage and keep people safe.
No-one can eliminate the risks of severe weather and no-one can guarantee that floods of the kind we saw this month will never recur. But we can be better prepared – and this Government will do everything to ensure that we are.