The Yorkshire Post says: Flood of despair still in full flow. Legacy of storms take their tollThousands of homes and businesses were badly damaged in the wake of Storm Desmond in 2015 as heavy rain fell on already-saturated ground over the festive period.
The immediate aftermath saw communities spring into action to support those affected, with millions of pounds since given in grants to ease the burden. Now, on the two-year anniversary of the devastation, it emerged that families are still coming forward to seek financial support as the impact continues to take its toll.
“People are still coming to terms with it emotionally, practically and financially,” said Jan Garrill, the chief executive of the Two Ridings Community Foundation, which manages the York Flood Fund.
“The number of people who have come to us and said they’re still struggling financially, or that they still haven’t got back in their house, has been surprising. For a lot of people, there are still incredible feelings of anxiety and worry that it will happen again.”
The Boxing Day floods of 2015 saw the worst flooding in a generation after the region experienced the wettest December since records began. Heavy rainfall led to record-breaking levels in the Aire, Calder and Foss, the rivers bursting their banks and waters sweeping into surrounding homes and businesses.
In Calderdale, the flooding stretched over 25 miles, with more than 2,000 residents and 1,000 businesses affected, while in York and North Yorkshire a further 900 were hit. Tadcaster, a town torn in two with the loss of its bridge, saw months of misery as a split community faced lengthy detours to cross the river.
The overriding memory of the floods, said Selby District Council leader Mark Crane, remains the “sheer hard work” people put in to recover.
With a new bridge opening this year, along with the opening of the Jorvik Viking Centre in York, resilient businesses are beginning to recover, authorities have said. But the emotional and financial toll has left a scar on individuals and communities, with many fearful of a repeat and now facing hefty insurance rates.
“We are recovering, people are resilient,” said Ms Garrill. “But for many, it was the last straw. It was an abnormal event that had a significant impact on their lives.
“These people, perhaps at first, didn’t ask for much because they thought they could cope. But it has taken its toll.”
Work is under way across the region and the Environment Agency, working with local authorities, is drawing up plans for areas including Calderdale, Bradford, York, Leeds and Skipton. The first phase of a £50m Leeds flood alleviation scheme launched in October, while a business case for the second phase, set to cost £65m, is to be submitted in the New Year.
And in York, a £45m five-year plan to better protect 2,000 homes has been developed, while designs covering 18 areas will be announced in the spring.
“Across Yorkshire, in our current six-year programme from 2015-21, we are investing £475m to better protect 66,000 properties from flood risk,” an Environment Agency spokesman said.