Calder Valley community goes behind the scenes of flood works

Residents look at flood alleviation scheme
Residents look at flood alleviation scheme

People living and working in Mytholmroyd were invited to meet the construction team building the flood defence scheme in the village to learn about the £30 million project.

A construction open day was held at Mytholmroyd Community Centre for members of the community to drop in to find out more the scheme and what is being done to protect 400 homes and businesses in the village.

Residents look at flood alleviation scheme

Residents look at flood alleviation scheme

Staff were on hand throughout the day to explain what work is being carried out in each planning area of the village and answer questions on many issues including access routes and the size and type of equipment being used during construction.

Visitors were also asked during the event how they would like to be provided with up-to-date information about the progress of the scheme. The flood alleviation scheme has been developed by the Environment Agency in partnership with Calderdale Council and is expected to be completed by winter 2019.

Design and construction of the scheme has been carried out by main contractor VBA, a joint venture comprising VolkerStevin, Boskalis Westminster and SNC-Lavalin’s Atkins business.

Vital works to be completed as part of the scheme include construction of new, raised and improved flood walls, relocation of Caldene Bridge, widening of the river channel at key locations and flood proofing of the buildings next to the river.

During the next stage of the scheme, which begins in April, drainage improvements will be made along Burnley Road to reduce the risk of surface water flooding.

Chris Blenkarn, project manager for VBA, said: “We are pleased that flood defence works are moving into the next phase on site, which will make a difference to the community and protect local homes and businesses.”

Case study: ‘Scheme can’t be built soon enough’

Mytholmroyd’s Flood Alleviation Scheme can’t be built soon enough for Serah Cullinan-Stooks whose family home was severely damaged in the Boxing Day Floods of 2015.

She has since been involved in the development of the new defence scheme and helped gather local neighbours to have their say on the finish of the new flood wall which will be built close to her home.

The family were at home on that fateful morning and went to look around the village about 7am to assess the risk. However, it wasn’t until Serah received a severe flood warning from the Environment Agency by email that she realised how serious the incident could be.

Serah, a director of an IT consultancy business, said: “The river was high but it all escalated very quickly and we had no idea of what was coming our way. Nothing could have prepared us for that day. The amount of damage was unbelievable and the force of the water petrifying.

“The river wrapped around our house and we had lots of debris, six inches of silt and other people’s stuff coming into our cellar.

“I did fall out of love with my house after the flood and didn’t want to move back in. Until it has happened to you, no one can have any idea of the destruction an event like that can cause or the huge impact on your life.”

The sheer force of the water swept through the flood door on the cellar which had been converted into an office and a playroom, causing their four- storey house to shake and broke all the windows on that level. The flood water then rose to nine feet and up into the floor above, wrecking the kitchen.

Serah, her husband Richard, three teenage children, a terrified dog and two rabbits were trapped upstairs overnight. Then their home suffered further damage caused by a fire as the consumer unit exploded in the cellar when electricity was restored to the house. This left them without electricity for three days.

It took 51 weeks to repair the damage to the family’s Georgian house on Burnley Road, opposite where the new bridge will be built, including building a new kitchen.

Serah said: “I’m desperate for the Mytholmroyd flood defence to be completed so that we will all be better protected.”