Flood damage in Yorkshire almost as severe as rest of England combined, figures show

The scale of devastation caused by flooding over the last two weeks in Calderdale is nearly as severe as damage in the rest of England combined.

The Yorkshire borough was hit hard by rising flood waters caused by Storm Ciara and narrowly avoided further damage in Storm Dennis, prompting an outcry for the Government to do more to protect residents and businesses - and help them recover.

With yellow weather warnings issued for some parts of Yorkshire, stark statistics show the uneven strain Calderdale has taken.

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Figures from recent days show close to 1,000 businesses had been flooded nationally, with 572 located in the Calder Valley hit during Storm Ciara.

Calderdale Council leader Tim Swift. Photo: JPI Media

Some 1,500 residential properties were affected, with 615 in Calder Valley - the majority of the rest were in Herefordshire and Worcestershire.

And two Calder Valley schools will stay closed next week, the only two in the country with a total of 470 children, as the other 18 reopen. Overall 20 schools closed due to flooding nationally, eight of which were in Calder Valley.

It is thought the clear up bill for the area’s infrastructure currently stands at around £5m.

The apparent inequality with the rest of the country has pushed MPs and political leaders to call for help with the clear up, and future events.

The Government took nine days to trigger financial help for the area after Storm Ciara hit, attracting criticism from inside its own ranks as well as out.

Craig Whittaker, the Tory MP for Calder Valley said getting that money had been a “nightmare” and criticised the number of properties which needed to be affected before Government assistance was triggered.

And the leader of Calderdale Council said the situation was “not sustainable”.

But new Environment Secretary George Eustice, defended the response and said the Government had a “firm grip” and that flood defences were “working as intended”.

Mr Whittaker, whose own home was flooded, said: “The immediate fix for me is no one should be in the position where they are waiting around for Government help, when you’ve got 1,187 properties flooded and that does not trigger it, what the hell is the criteria?

“My office has been inundated with people wanting help, we should be focussed on that not having to chase the Government.”

He said: “The beauty of [the response to the floods in] 2015 was we managed to get the Environment Agency to do a catchment plan.”

This looked outside of simply the £100m being spent on flood defences and incorporated other initiatives such as tree planting.

He said: “I would like to press for some pilot schemes around the country - and in Calder Valley - so we can invest in this type of work. The Calder Valley will always flood no matter what we do, but what we can do is we can do more than just build walls.”

He added: “We’ve got to do more to stop this happening on this scale.”

While Holly Lynch, Labour MP for Halifax who hosted leadership contender Lisa Nandy yesterday in flood-hit areas, said Boris Johnson’s refusal to call a COBR meeting had hampered recovery efforts.

She added the next issue to look at would be a re-insurance scheme for businesses refused cover due to flooding, similar to those available for homes.

She said: “This is the next big battle we’re going to have.”

The focus will now move to the clear up, and how these disasters will be tackled in the future.

Leader of Calderdale Council Tim Swift said: “Over the past two weeks we’ve sadly seen devastating flooding hit many areas across the country. Unfortunately the latest figures suggest that over a third of the homes and over half of the businesses which have been flooded are in the Calder Valley.

“This is the third significant flood event we have experienced in the past eight years and whilst we’re very proud of the way in which our communities and businesses are bouncing back, this situation is not sustainable.

“Calderdale has unique challenges because of its topography. Our steep sided valley makes us extremely vulnerable, which is why we are asking the Government to designate us with Tier 1 status. This would recognise the unique threat we face from flooding and help us to unlock the resources we need to provide significant protection for our communities.”