IT is less than 100 days since Boris Johnson declared – now infamously – that Yorkshire’s floods were “not a national emergency”.
That was before Storm Ciara inflicted further misery on the Calder Valley – and those areas promised fully functioning defences after the 2015 floods.
Now The Yorkshire Post urges the Prime Minister to take immediate action to aid stricken communities as the county and country, brace for Storm Dennis – and more heavy rain in areas already on high flood alert.
So-called ‘once in a century’ floods and other extreme weather are becoming the norm – and politicians must recognise this – as Calderdale, and others areas, count the cost of the third disaster in eight years.
Yet this is more than a ‘national emergency’ for victims soon forgotten by here-today-gone-tomorrow politicians, once filthy floodwaters subside.
It is a human and economic catastrophe that leaders can no longer afford to ignore as families live, again, in fear of the rain.
And it is why the PM, together with Rishi Sunak, the new Chancellor, and George Eustice, now Environment Secretary, must act.
Today this newspaper – on behalf of the 5.4 million people who live in Yorkshire – challenges the Prime Minister and his top team to adopt this 10-point blueprint:
* Hold – without delay – a summit of key officials and victims to whom Mr Johnson promised so much after the River Don floods last November;
* Commission an inquiry into the leadership and effectiveness of the Environment Agency, vis-a-vis flooding;
* Review future funding levels for flood defences and coastal erosion, taking account of the very latest weather patterns and projections;
* Create a national infrastructure recovery fund so councils can rebuild damaged communities without delay;
* Grant so-called ‘tier 1’ special status to councils in the most vulnerable areas, like Calderdale, so they qualify for vital emergency Government funding;
* Overhaul the Flood Re insurance scheme so affordable cover – as promised – is more widely available;
* Fund a comprehensive river dredging strategy and publish immediately the delivery plan;
* Provide the emergency services with all additional funding required - centrally - and review Army-deployment criteria immediately;
* Commission now an independent Natural Flood Management review and begin implementing its recommendations before the end of this year;
* Honour the commitments made by previous Prime Ministers and Ministers to the people of all regions at risk of flooding.
It is a source of regret that this last point has to be made, but it does when the flood defences promised for communities like Mytholmryod, Todmorden and Hebden Bridge in 2015 were incomplete, and inadequate, when Storm Ciara struck last weekend.
There is no trust. When David Cameron visited Todmorden in 2012 he said: “The Government stands by to help in any way we can.”
After the Boxing Day floods of 2015 he insisted: “The key thing is to spend the money where it’s needed,” before making a ‘money is no object’ undertaking. Even now, Leeds still has not received the £23m that it needs to complete its defences.
When you, Mr Johnson, felt first-hand the wrath of Fishlake you contritely conceded: “There is something uniquely traumatic about being forced from your home by floods.”
Those words are today put in context by one Yorkshire council chief executive who told this newspaper just this week that he is at the end of his tether, “finding it extremely difficult to get an immediate and sustained response from the Government.”
This is perhaps unsurprising given Mr Eustice is now the country’s fifth Environment Secretary in five years, replacing Theresa Villiers who - on a recent visit to Yorkshire - refused to answer a single question posed by this newspaper.
It is revealing that Mr Sunak, the new Chancellor, was critical of the Government’s slow response to last summer’s floods in the Dales – part of his Richmond constituency.
It is also striking how many civic leaders here are now expressing a belief that the Ministerial response would be more rapid if it was London - or the Home Counties - at risk.
The Prime Minister must show some belated urgency on an issue that will, in time, be a gravely serious matter of life and death.
To paraphrase Boris Johnson’s great political hero Sir Winston Churchill: “Action this day.”