Press release: Recovery continues in Yorkshire six months on from floods

It’s now six months on since the devastating floods of December 2015 and the Environment Agency is embarking on a significant programme of repairs to flood defences damaged by the flooding. More than 9,000 householders and businesses across north and west Yorkshire were affected by the flooding and have spent much of this time dealing with its effects. Over the last six months the Environment Agency has conducted a massive recovery operation assessing and repairing damaged flood defences, walls and structures so that they can continue to protect communities. They’ve checked nearly 8,500 assets in total and had completed all the emergency repairs by the end of February. Field teams and contractors have worked tirelessly to build temporary defences and clear obstructions such as collapsed bridges, buildings, thousands of tonnes of gravel, debris and vehicles from rivers to reduce further flood risk at 150 locations.

Teams ‘working tirelessly to restore protection’

Phil Younge, major incident recovery manager at the Environment Agency said:
The floods of December 2015 had a terrible impact on peoples’ lives, homes and businesses across the county. Sadly, some residents and businesses are still feeling the effects such flooding events can bring. Teams are working hard to get defences back in a condition they were prior to flooding. We are on track to achieve this huge challenge, and our teams are working tirelessly to restore protection to communities.

Building resilience in those communities badly affected last December is key and we have been working closely with risk management authorities, local communities and other partners to form a collaborative approach for these areas.

Programme of work begins

While work continues to clear many more sites the Environment Agency is beginning its programme of work to tackle the larger scale repairs to damaged flood defences. This week they are rebuilding walls near Shade School and behind the market in Todmorden, which collapsed in the floods. Debris and gravel is also being cleared from the channel to improve the flow of water near the school. Further gravel removal works are being planned across Calderdale in the coming weeks, as well as wall repairs. Flood bank and wall repairs are being done on the River Aire, from the lower reaches of the catchment at Airmyn, all the way through Leeds and up to Skipton, where defences have slipped or been damaged by the floods. On the River Wharfe, work is about to start to repair a bank slip at Collingham near Wetherby, which was another community affected by the Christmas floods. The target is to restore assets back to pre-winter 2015 standards by the end of September 2016. Another important area of Environment Agency work has been supporting those affected by the flooding. They’ve visited around 150 communities, providing support in a variety of ways including holding community events, advising on flood resilience measures and sharing plans for future flood alleviation schemes. Asset recovery and engagement work has been a priority for the Environment Agency over the last six months, but it’s only part of the story. Since December 2015:
  • Government announced £115 million for flood defence investment in Leeds, York and the Calder Valley
  • Work to upgrade the Foss Barrier Pumping Station began in April and is progressing well. Three temporary pumps have been installed as well as a temporary elevated platform on which to house all the equipment while work to install new equipment progresses
  • The Foss Barrier investigation report was published, which looked at the events leading to the opening of the barrier on Boxing Day 2015
  • The Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme scoping report was launched, which sets out options to reduce flood risk to the city centre and Kirkstall Road, along with an initial timetable for delivery.
  • The action plan for Mytholmroyd was launched which sets out the programme that will be implemented to further reduce flood risk to the town along with the anticipated timescales for delivery.
  • A flood information centre was opened in Mytholmroyd
  • The Calderdale Catchment Partnership has been formed to provide a collaborative process for the production of the Calderdale Catchment Plan.
  • Worked with partners and communities to gather information to produce the flood extents of the December 2015 flood event.
By December 2016:
  • All damaged assets will have been repaired to a pre-December 2015 standard by the end of September 2016.
  • Subject to planning, the main flood alleviation work in Mytholmroyd will be underway
  • Catchment plans for York and Calderdale will have been produced putting forward options for managing flood risk.
  • New, high capacity pumps will be installed and operational at Foss Barrier Pumping station
  • The December 2015 flood extent maps will be available on from 1 November 2016.
The Environment Agency continue to urge people to sign up to their free flood warning service. Residents and businesses can check to see if free flood warnings are available in their community and sign up by calling Floodline on 0345 988 1188 or by visiting the website. As well as checking flood risk, residents can also find out what action they can take to protect your personal safety and property by visiting the Environment Agency website
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