Businesses, councillors and community leaders in Mirfield are joining forces in a bid to end the town’s floods misery.
The town was hit by floods in 2008 and 2015 culminating in the damage and destruction of Boxing Day as the River Calder burst its banks.
Now Mirfield Town Council is to spearhead a campaign to find out exactly what happened and what can be done to prevent a repeat.
Local people attended a town council meeting at the council offices on Tuesday night.
The meeting was told of flooding from behind the John Cotton’s factory at Battyeford which ripped down metal fencing and engulfed the clubhouse at Battyeford Sporting Club; floods affecting businesses at Holme Bank Mills and BB Plastics off Station Road; and more damage at the Dr Reddy’s chemical works in Steanard Lane, the town’s most vulnerable flood risk area.
Cottages were also flooded at the popular Shepley Bridge Marina.
Mirfield Tory councillor Martyn Bolt said Mirfield bore the brunt of water coming down from the hills and moorland as far away as Emley Moor and Haworth.
He said three rivers - the Holme, the Colne and the Calder - joined at Cooper Bridge bringing a huge swell of water through Mirfield.
He said there were natural ways to delay the flow of water upstream and he also called for dredging and the clearance of overgrown river banks.
“Just like King Canute, you won’t stop the water. You have to work with it,” he said.
Clr Bolt said he was speaking to the Environment Agency about what could be done.
Helen Cariss, health and safety manager for Dr Reddy’s, warned of the dangers of flooding.
She said: “We were not in production on Boxing Day but if this happens at any other time of year there could be potential consequences of having our site flooded.”
She said the firm owned a lot of land and may be willing to sacrifice some to prevent flooding downstream.
Watch below at community pulls together to clear up allotments after Mirfield flooding
James Walker, who owns Holme Bank Mills, said Boxing Day’s flood was very different to 2008.
In 2008 he described a “mini tsunami” of water cascading down the river which quickly passed through.
This time the water stayed and flooded outwards and Mr Walker added: “All I can think is there was a blockage further down preventing it moving.”
Last time Mr Walker said there were officials with loud hailers and police officers on scene. This time there was no one.
Ms Cariss said she had tried to contact the Environment Agency the day after Boxing Day for updates but believed the agency’s offices in Leeds had been flooded too.
“They couldn’t send out flood alerts because they were flooded out themselves,” she said.
Civil engineer and Mirfield campaigner Keith Andrews said he was employed by the Environment Agency to help after floods in Sheffield in 2007.
He said over 18 months he had 50,000 tons of material and 5,000 tons of trees removed from the rivers.
“We had to call it ‘channel improvements’, we couldn’t call it ‘dredging’,” he said. “Sheffield hasn’t flooded this time. The devastation in 2007 was remarkable. It was like a bomb site.”
Mick Steer, general manager of BB Plastics in Lowlands Road, which faces a £6.5 million insurance claim over the Boxing Day floods, said he believed the flood was due to a “mismanagement of water.”
He added: “For thousands of years man has been trying to control water. Is it coming to the stage where nothing can be done? Do you suffer it or get out?”
The town council agreed to set up a task force to investigate.