'Nightmare': Victims of multiple Calderdale flooding 'unable to claim again'

Victims of this month's floods looking for vital funds from a resilience grant scheme will be unable to claim again.

It comes after the newly-appointed Environment Secretary George Eustice said the Government insisted victims hit by the 2015, as well as 2020's floods, should already be prepared for future disasters.

Flood-striken businesses in Mytholmroyd

Flood-striken businesses in Mytholmroyd

Large parts of England were swamped in 2015, including the Calder Valley which has once again been hit by Storms Ciara and Dennis during the past month.

Environment Secretary George Eustice told the House of Commons those who claimed up to £5,000 five years ago “have already invested to make their homes more resilient”.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) confirmed this was the case, but stressed there were a number of other schemes available.

Many businesses and homeowners across Calderdale in flood-struck areas Brighouse, Elland, Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd, Todmorden, and Sowerby Bridge, do not apply for the grant if they were affected by the Boxing Day flood disaster of 2015 - and the recent devastation left by Storm Ciara.

A row of houses in Mytholmroyd devastated by the flood

A row of houses in Mytholmroyd devastated by the flood

Holly Lynch, Labour MP for Halifax, said the situation was “unrealistic”.

She said: “I assume his position is it’s for resilience, it’s not for repairs or recovery, but if you’re having to invest in for example expensive dehumidifiers time after time, that’s a cost you will incur every time you flood.”

She added that resilience methods may have moved on and there may be better methods available now than five years ago, and those who had previously claimed would be looked out of taking advantage of the most up-to-date protection.

"The Secretary of State said it in an urgent flooding statement on Monday.

Holly Lynch, MP for Halifax and Sowerby Bridge

Holly Lynch, MP for Halifax and Sowerby Bridge

"His logic is if you had a resilience grant in 2015, you should already be resilient.

"Most of the people who flooded recently also flooded in 2015.

"They may have had their plug sockets moved half way up after 2015 and can recover faster.

"But to think they won't require support to recover again, that they don't incur costs for cleaning, hiring pumps and dehumidifiers as part of their resilience efforts, or that resilience measures which are available now might not have been in 2015, [it] shows a complete lack of understanding of what we need in Calderdale. Nightmare."

George Eustice Minister for Environment

George Eustice Minister for Environment

It comes as the head of the Environment Agency warned not every home can be protected from flooding as climate change raises the risk of extreme weather.

The agency’s chief executive, Sir James Bevan, said in a few places the scale of coastal erosion or risk of river or sea flooding will become so great that communities may have to move.

However, he said flood defences worked to protect many people, and would continue to be needed, alongside measures to help communities become more resilient to increased flooding.
There is also a need for “nature based solutions”, such as restoring the bends in rivers, planting trees and creating wetland habitats to slow the flow of water down river and reduce flood risks, he added.

Sir James said it would be unrealistic to ban all development on the flood plain, but it should only be done if there is no alternative, and any building that goes ahead should not increase the risk of flooding for other people.

And homes built on the flood plain should be resilient to flooding; for example, with garages on the ground floor and people living higher up.

His comments came in a speech at the World Water-Tech Innovation Summit in London yesterday when he warned a twin-track approach of defences and resilience to flooding is needed to defuse the “weather bomb”.

The Environment Agency is spending £2.6bn on new defences to better protect 300,000 properties by 2021 and more than £1bn on maintaining existing defences in England.
People are being encouraged to ensure their homes and businesses are more resilient to flooding by installing measures such as flood doors, raised electric sockets and sealed doors.