The sheer scale of the clean-up operation after the Boxing Day floods has been revealed.
In the 10 weeks since the devastating floods hit West Yorkshire, the Environment Agency is still continuing the enormous task of assessing the damage the floods caused to defences.
Staff have been working around the clock to inspect over 8,000 assets including flood walls, embankments, trash screens and culverts and identify what repair work is needed.
Thousands of man hours from the Environment Agency and its contractors have been spent in dealing with the most urgent repair works. Over 100 repairs have already been completed and a further 300 are currently underway.
Some of the work has included the removal of hundreds of tonnes of debris from rivers - including trees, cars, capsized boats, boulders weighing over a tonne each; footbridges in the River Calder at Sowerby Bridge that had been washed away and a riverside building in Mytholmroyd that collapsed into the river. All of these posed a potential future risk of flooding to communities already hit hard.
Adam Tunningley, Asset Recovery Manager said: “This is one of the most damaging floods I have witnessed in my time working for the Environment Agency.
“It had a terrible impact on many communities across the region and many residents and businesses are not yet back in their properties
“The job we have before us, of getting our defences back in a condition they were prior to flooding, is a huge challenge.
“In Yorkshire, the Environment Agency usually spends in the region of £7.5 million each year on maintaining flood defences. That figure has been spent in just the last two months repairing the damage done by the storms and there is much to do on top of the maintenance work we already have planned.
“Delivering a programme of this size, across so many different locations and communities presents us with a big logistical challenge: using civil engineers, hydrologists and modellers, to design the repair works and engaging specialist skills to deliver them, such as working near water and in difficult environmental conditions - not to mention needing a period of good weather to carry out the work.”
The Environment Agency aims to get all repairs completed before the winter.
Environment Agency hydrologists have worked out that 670 billion litres of rain fell in just 48 hours at the height of the floods in December last year - that’s more than twice the volume of Lake Windermere.
The rain fell on already saturated ground as many parts of Yorkshire had already received the average December rainfall by the end of the first week in December.
The month as a whole, saw 2,220 billion litres of rain fall on the county.
The rain that fell over the Boxing Day period wasn’t on its own responsible for the devastating floods we saw. It was a combination of an extended period of intense rainfall and the short time intervals between the storms Desmond, Eva and Frank.