Tag Archives: flooding

Rebuilding the Co-op

Saturday 12th March 2016, 11.05am (day 1,661)

Rebuilding Co-op, 12/3/16

The Co-operative supermarket in Hebden Bridge has been closed since the morning of 26th December when, like the rest of the town centre, it was submerged under six feet of water.  You still can’t go in but I took this shot through the door. The rebuilding continues and apparently it will be fully open again by next weekend.

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We’re now open

Sunday 24th January 2016, 6.10pm (day 1,613)

Reopened shop, 24/1/16

Four weeks after the flood, a positive message. The ‘bobby dazzlers’ in question will not include our parliamentary representative or any of his colleagues elected by constituencies flooded in December 2015, despite the financial resources we expend on furthering their lifestyle, and the moral authority they claim, on the basis that they are “representing the interests of the people”.

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Time for plan B?

Wednesday 13th January 2016, 9.55am (day 1,602)

Platform over river, 13/1/16

This platform over the Hebden Water has always been there, at least since I’ve been living here. But recently a project began that seemed to be building on it. One story was that this was to be car parking, but I’ve also heard that there was going to be a house built on it. Either way, the state it is in now reflects what happened on December 26th, in the floods, when the river peaked above the surface of the platform, leaving it smashed up and littered with debris (much of which has since been cleared).

The point is that this is exactly the kind of situation where you might think planning permission had been granted without due consideration. Flooding, and damage from flooding, isn’t just about heavy rainfall — it’s also about damn-fool planning. At least this happened before someone blithely bought and moved into this putative house. But who knows, perhaps the project has not yet been abandoned.

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Monday 28th December 2015, 11.10am (day 1,586)

House debris, 28/12/15

I haven’t felt like taking many pictures over these last three days. Media coverage of natural disasters encourages us to see the flood just as a spectacle, a series of dramatic images, and all these things we do on social media are part of it. Voyeuristic citizen journalism is little different from the voyeuristic corporate kind. I wish I had something else to document, though.

This to me is the saddest sight; virtually every house and business in the town centre now has these piles of stock and/or furniture outside on the pavements, waiting to be cleared.

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Counting the cost

Sunday 27th December 2015, 1.45pm (day 1,585)

Cleaning up again, 27/12/15

UK Prime Minister David Cameron today announced that he would ‘do all he could’ to help the victims of flooding across the north of England.

In June this year, his government’s Climate Change Committee warned that previously unprecedented weather events would become more common and that the UK state was not doing enough to protect its citizens from flooding. In October 2015 Cameron’s government finally responded to this, by announcing that a new flood defense and prevention strategy was “not appropriate” at this time.

In December, two days after the signing of a new international agreement in Paris, aimed at alleviating climate change, UK Chancellor George Osborne slashed all subsidies for renewable energy, while retaining them both for fracking, and for the burning of peat and heather on the moors of northern England, a land ‘management’ strategy that greatly increases run-off of water into the valleys during rain storms.

The gentleman pictured here is the owner of Paradise, a successful and long-established take-away joint in Hebden Bridge. He has just lost £30,000 worth of kitchen equipment from his business; even if he can reopen again he will have to be closed for many weeks. He was uninsured for this, not through neglect, but because the free market in insurance would not deign to cover him or other businesses in Hebden Bridge after the 2012 floods.

Calder Valley has a Conservative Member of Parliament, Craig Whittaker. His email address is craig.whittaker.mp@parliament.uk and his Twitter handle is @CWhittakerMP. I just thought I would mention these things.

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Lake Calder (not normal)

Saturday 26th December 2015. 10.30am (day 1,584)

Hodder lake, 26/12/15

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.

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