The flood fight back: Calderdale is open for business

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Calderdale is open for business.

That’s the message from visitor centres, markets, the majority of businesses and tourist attractions as Calderdale continues to recover from the unprecedented flooding on Boxing Day.

It’s now one month on from the floods, and although local communities are still recovering from the impact of the flooding, many shops and businesses have managed to reopen or are operating from different or altered premises.

Hebden Bridge is undoubtedly one of the tourism hotspots of Calderdale and relies heavily on the tourism industry. The visitor centre in Hebden Bridge was affected and was closed for a fortnight after flooding hit.

Everything in the building needs to be completely replaced and the building is still drying out. However, thanks to the hard work of Council staff, community volunteers and partners, the centre managed to reopen with a limited operation on Monday 11 January, albeit with limited hours.

Since then, staff have been on hand as a point of contact for local businesses and visitors, with an up to date list of businesses which have reopened – a list that is growing every week.

One of these businesses is the Old Gate Bar & Restaurant, just off Market Street in the town.

The pub was one of the many businesses in Hebden Bridge affected by the flood waters that hit the town on Boxing Day.

Wooden floors, walls and stock were all damaged by the water, which rose to three feet in the bar area, but thanks to the hard work of staff who worked tirelessly to clean up, the pub managed to reopen two weeks later, on Friday, january 8

Owner Richard Stenson said: “I’ve been here for over three years now, and although we managed to escape the flooding in 2012, this time the floods were higher and unfortunately the bar area of the pub was badly affected.

“We were due to open on Boxing Day, so luckily we were there to save stock as soon as the waters starting rising, and we moved fridges out of the way of the water.

“Once the water subsided, we could see the damage; wooden wall panels had to be replaced as well as the flooring which all had to be pulled up and replaced. The water was so high that our shelves were damaged too, and we also lost stock from the cellar and the kitchens.

“Our staff were amazing, and came in every day to help us clean up. We managed to reopen two weeks later and now we’re more or less back to normal, fully stocked with drink and serving food again.

“Some businesses are unfortunately still closed, but there are plenty like us that are back up and running.”

Councillor Tim Swift, leader of Calderdale Council, said: “The local economy has been hit hard by the flooding, but we want visitors to know that although many businesses are still in the process of recovering, more and more are reopening each week, and Calderdale is very much open for business.

“It’s no secret that the last month has been a trying time for Calderdale, and there is still some way to go before our towns are back to normal. However, the strong community spirit of the borough has really shone through, and we want to encourage visitors back to see what our area has to offer.

“Although the Hebden Bridge visitor centre was affected, it is now open for business, along with the visitor centres in Halifax and Todmorden. All the friendly staff at each site can provide you with information and inside tips to make your visit a real success.”

Whilst the visitor centre has been a first point of contact for local businesses, staff have seen an increase in visitors over the last week, including regional visitors from Harrogate and York and a number of international visitors from Sweden and New York have been into the centre.