Clean up continues after Storm Brian battered Calder Valley

Clean up on Burnley Road in Todmorden.
Clean up on Burnley Road in Todmorden.

As the sirens sounded, it seemed like an all too familiar situation for residents of the Calder Valley.

For some, as Storm Brian brought intense rainfall and high winds to many parts of the Calder Valley, a repeat of the Boxing Day floods in 2015 seemed possible.

Flooded steps in Elle Shuttelton's home

Flooded steps in Elle Shuttelton's home

One of these residents was Elle Shuttelton. When she moved out of Todmorden to the hilltop hamlet of Sharneyford a few miles away, Elle thought she had left the risk of her home flooding behind.

But when Storm Brian arrived last weekend Elle, 45, found the steps into her home had turned into a roaring “waterfall”.

“I moved four days ago, right onto the tops where you’d think you wouldn’t get flooding,” she said. “Looking out from my back window, there’s a wall just set a bit back and a footpath above set into the hillside. It was probably about 5pm I think when I saw a little bit of a trickle and within a few minutes some of the bricks had flown out.

“We had what I can only describe as a waterfall in our back yard. Water was coming through the kitchen door and walls.”

Kendal Lindley by the burst culvert.

Kendal Lindley by the burst culvert.

Elle soon realised that there was little choice but to open the door and let the water run out through the vestibule.

She said: “We would have been in four or five feet of water otherwise.”

Other members of the community were also seriously affected by Storm Brian last weekend.

A group of residents from Stoney Royd Lane and Burnley Road are angry and confused at who is responsible for the burst culvert which caused a wave of water to rush through the streets after the heavy rain on Saturday.

Floods in Burnley Road, Todmorden. Kendal Lindley with Cecelia and Phil Sunderland.

Floods in Burnley Road, Todmorden. Kendal Lindley with Cecelia and Phil Sunderland.

Just 12 months ago the culvert, which passes under the nearby railway line, burst and since then residents have seen roads rushing with water on two occasions, including after Storm Brian.

Burnley Road resident Kendal Lindley said: “It was like a dam had exploded, water rushed down Stoney Royd Lane onto Burnley Road.

“It was like a wave of water carrying mud, rubble and people’s gardens away. It’s dreadful.

“Everyone’s garden is covered in mud, half of my garden was across the road, and no one is doing anything about it.”

But the question is, who is responsible for repairing the culvert and preventing this sort of incident from happening again?

Kendal said: “We don’t know if it should be Calderdale Council or British Rail but everyone we have asked have said it’s not their problem. Apart from digging holes, nothing has been done and people are saying it is our job to put it right, but how can we?

“We are as in the dark, as we were 12 months ago.”

Despite the upset that Storm Brian left behind, the people of Calderdale once again showed their community spirit with dozens of people working tirelessly to help keep others safe and clean up affected areas.

Leader of Calderdale Council, Coun Tim Swift, said: “We’d like to say a heartfelt thank you to everyone who gave their all to help people affected by the surface flooding. As always, our amazing communities pulled together and worked tirelessly to support each other. Dozens of volunteers, flood wardens, flood group members, residents and businesses made an immense contribution to the work of the Council and other organisations.”

Just 24 hours before the intense rainfall and strong winds brought by Storm Brian arrived in the valley, teams in Calderdale took part in a major live training exercise.
#OperationalCdale17 tested the response of the council and partners to a flooding incident and rehearsed the action that would be taken during and after a flood.