A number of areas in Calderdale are prone to flooding. Some of the health problems associated with severe flooding are:
- An increased risk of enteric infections due to disruption of sewage and water systems;
- The disruption of chemicals, which may constitute a health hazard;
- An increased risk of vehicle accidents, hypothermia and drowning;
- An increased risk of mental health problems;
- An increased risk of disease/infection due to clean up of flooded premises.
The local picture
Calderdale has suffered from flooding on numerous occasions, with the most severe incidents occurring in Summer 2012 and December 2015.
In December 2015, Todmorden, Hebden Bridge, Mytholmroyd and Sowerby Bridge all suffered from unprecedented levels of flooding. Properties also flooded in Elland, Brighouse, Copley and Luddenden.
Detailed information on properties and business affected can be found on the Council's open data platform: Calderdale Data Works: Flood data
We currently do not know exactly how many properties flooded, though the best estimates are:
- Figures from the Analysis of Environmental Agency (EA) mapping of flood affected areas:
- Total residential premises affected - 5,315;
- Total businesses affected - 2,609;
- Total premises affected - 7,924.
- The figures that have been identified on the ground in locality hubs to date:
- Total residential premises affected - 2,781;
- Total businesses affected - 1,635;
- Total premises affected - 4,416.
Damage to households included widespread water inundation at ground floor level with others affected by flooded cellars. Given limited space in small back to back properties, cellars are often used as living accommodation and / or house electrical consumer units. There were widespread power outages due to flooding of substations, some of which were out of action for up to 4 days. Some properties did not have electricity for weeks due to the flooding to their individual electrics and approximately 40 still didn’t have power two months after the flooding.
Given Calderdale’s headwater location, flood waters recede relatively quickly, but flood water in cellars and silt debris remained an issue for some time after flooding.
Residents have typically gone to family and friends initially with around 30 formally rehoused by the Council or partners. This number will rise as displaced parties seek longer term interim accommodation.
Eight schools were affected by the flood. Burnley Road Academy at Mytholmroyd, housing 250 pupils, will be closed for up to six months and arrangements have been made for the pupils to attend elsewhere. Scout Road School was also indirectly affected due to a landslide.
A number of adult and child care facilities were put out of action or damaged by the flood. This included the Hebden Vale Centre which provides day services for adults and children, as well as the Customer First and Library base at Hebden Bridge. The Fire Station at Mytholmroyd and the Police Station at Sowerby Bridge were also damaged. The Tourist Information Centre in Hebden Bridge has been flooded as have the Mytholmroyd Community Centre and Hebden Bridge Youth Centre. Two General Practitioner (GP) surgeries and three chemists have been affected.
A number of voluntary groups such as the Citizen’s Advice Bureau have suffered damage to premises, impeding their contribution to the recovery. The Community Transport base at Luddendenfoot also sustained flood damage.
There are concerns over wider health impacts. Our previous experience is that, notwithstanding fears over floodwater contaminated with sewerage, actual impacts of diarrhoea and vomiting or worse tend to be limited. However advice on sensible precautions has been issued and will continue to be disseminated. A longer term more pervasive and pernicious impact will be the emotional and psychological effect of losing homes and property to flooding and its associated damage. However we currently do not have any data on the numbers with health needs as a result of the flooding.
The Storm Eva Recovery - Single Integrated Recovery Plan details the Council's plans to aid recovery following the floods. The main actions are around the following:
- Media, communications and public affairs;
Calderdale Council has launched a floods commission which will be made up of seven elected members, with representation from each of the three main political parties. The Commission will consider the causes, the impact and response to the flooding across Calderdale. Members will invite written submissions and hear evidence from local residents, community groups, businesses and key agencies, such as the Environment Agency. More information on the commission can be found at: Storm Eva Recovery - Flood Commission .
More details of the councils response to the flooding can be found at Calderdale Data Works: Flood data .
Currently we have no information on user views, but this is something that the Flood Commission will be looking to address.
These are detailed in The local picture.
Projected future need
Given that severe flooding has occurred twice in the past few years, it is likely to occur again. The impact of the flooding will depend partly on the work that the Council and its partners are able to do to improve resilience before the next event occurs.
Key considerations linked to the known evidence (what works?)
- Environment Agency / Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs: Developing the evidence base for flood resistance and resilience .
References and further information
More information on flooding in Calderdale can found in:
This chapter was compiled from various Calderdale Council sources by the Public Health Intelligence Team, Calderdale Council.