Saturday 26th December 2015. 10.30am (day 1,584)
Up until this morning 2015’s had been an entirely agreeable Christmas filled with friends and family old and new, much good cheer and sociability, etc. etc.
This morning things took a definite turn for the worse in the patch of England that lies, more or less, between Manchester, Leeds and Lancaster. Huge amounts of rain have turned much of this region into what you see here. We were scheduled to drive from my sister’s in Sabden to Clare’s parents in Morecambe this morning, and made it, despite some very damp moments on the road and views over scenes such as this. But we were among the luckier ones. Hebden Bridge and the whole Calder Valley, from Walsden down to Mytholmroyd, was today under over a metre (3.3 feet) of water, leading to terrifying scenes like this one, in Mytholmroyd. I do not even want to think about the impact this is going to have on my home town. In 2012 after the last (twin) floods hit several much-loved establishments were closed for months, and today’s floods were far worse. As this photo shows, the shops on the main street were deluged this morning.
The village of Whalley, which has appeared once before on this blog and was hit by flooding a couple of weeks ago, was also devastated again today. The shot I choose to epitomise this very shitty day is one taken as we tried to negotiate our way from Sabden past Whalley, on the A59 road which bypasses the village, and crosses the River Calder at this point (note: this is not the Calder that runs through Hebden Bridge, but the Lancashire river of the same name; in the first version of this post I misidentified it). As you can see the river has become a literal lake, and many houses in Whalley were evacuated today as a result. Nor do I think the sheep pictured here (lower left) have a great deal longer to live. As far as I know no human lives have been lost in the region today, but it is a frankly terrible situation, that at the moment I do not wish to dwell on very much.
It is all very well to blame capricious nature for this crap, but there are also decisions — to do with land use, water management, pollution — that have been deliberately made over the last couple of centuries of human existence and which are exacerbating natural weather events like this. Today the consequences of these decisions really hit home. I am sure you will see more of this over the next few days, but we have to get home first.