Calderdale residents are to be warned of the dangers of flash flooding – one year on from deluge that devastated the area.
The Environment Agency and Calderdale Council will be on hand next week to speak to residents affected by last summer’s floods and to give advice on how to best prepare their homes.
Hebden Bridge was badly hit by flash floods last summer, when the river reached the highest level ever recorded at 3.311-metres. But there were problems all down the Calder valley as far as Brighouse.
Heavy rain last June and July caused flooding to around 800 properties in West and South Yorkshire, mostly in Calderdale.
Homes and businesses in Mytholmroyd, Todmorden and Eastwood were also severely affected.
The Calder Valley is particularly susceptible to flash flooding, which leaves communities vulnerable.
Since last year’s floods, the Environment Agency, Calderdale Council, the Canal and Rivers Trust and Yorkshire Water have together spent more than £3m repairing damage caused by the storms.
The Environment Agency uses sirens to get a message out quickly to the Upper Calderdale communities if it is expecting the rivers to flood.
There are now eight air raid-like sirens in the area and these need to be tested on an annual basis.
However, irrespective of how much is invested in river defences and upgrading road and other drainage systems, there can never be any guarantees that flooding will not happen again in extreme weather conditions.
To mark the first anniversary of the first of last year’s three major floods in the Upper Calder Valley, which occurred on June 22/23, the Environment Agency and its partners are launching a campaign to warn of the dangers of flash flooding and to help advise people as to how they can be prepared to reduce their personal risk.
Officers will be out organising a number of community meetings to talk to local communities and businesses to help them develop flood action plans in a number of areas.
The Environment Agency has identified a large number of communities across the Yorkshire & North East region as being vulnerable to flash floods, which can happen with little or no warning during heavy rainstorms.
Oliver Harmar, flood and coastal risk manager for the Environment Agency said: “Flash floods carry immense power. They can move rocks, tear out trees, sweep away vehicles and destroy buildings and bridges in minutes and they can be a significant threat to life.
“We want to increase awareness of the dangers in vulnerable areas and give people some guidance as to how they can develop their own action plan to keep themselves and their families’ safe if such events occur.”
Areas susceptible to flash flooding include: The River Calder, Brighouse; The River Colne, Golcar; Holywell Brook, Greetland; River Holme, Honley; Rods Beck, Kirkheaton; River Colne, Marsden; River Calder, Ravensthorpe.