Villages submerged by flooding in 2015 are devastated again despite £30m investment in defences

Cars are seen submerged as flood water covers the roads and car parks in Mytholmroyd, northern England, on February 9, 2020, after the River Calder burst its banks as Storm Ciara swept over the country. - Britain and Ireland hunkered down Sunday for a powerful storm expected to disrupt air, rail and sea links, cancel sports events, cut electrical power and damage property. With howling winds and driving rain, forecasters said Ciara would also hit France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Cars are submerged as floodwater covers the roads and car parks in Mytholmroyd, West Yorkshire, after the River Calder burst its banks on Sunday. (Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

Yorkshire villages that were devastated by floods four years ago were submerged again this weekend – despite a £30m investment in defences.

Parts of the West Yorkshire communities of Mytholmroyd and Hebden Bridge were rendered inaccessible as the high winds and torrential rain of Storm Ciara swept across Britain on Sunday.

River levels peaked just below the 2015 record levels, which caused millions of pounds of damage to houses and businesses along the Calder Valley.

A man enters a house on a flooded street in Mytholmroyd, northern England, on February 9, 2020, after the River Calder burst its banks as Storm Ciara swept over the country. - Britain and Ireland hunkered down Sunday for a powerful storm expected to disrupt air, rail and sea links, cancel sports events, cut electrical power and damage property. With howling winds and driving rain, forecasters said Ciara would also hit France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Residents in Mytholmroyd were warned not to leave their homes after severe flooding hit on Sunday. (Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

More than £30m has been spent on flood defences in Mytholmroyd since the 2015 deluge, with part of the scheme completed in 2019 and the remainder due to be finished this summer.

Early reports from the village were that some of the new defences held but many homes were still flooded.

As Storm Ciara peaked on Sunday afternoon, flood wardens warned residents not to leave their homes. A message on the village’s official Facebook page said: “Please stay at home unless absolutely necessary. There are no passable roads through The Valley.

Newly constructed flood defenses are seen beside the River Calder in Mytholmroyd, northern England, on February 9, 2020, insufficient to prevent the river bursting its banks and flooding the village as Storm Ciara swept over the country. - Britain and Ireland hunkered down Sunday for a powerful storm expected to disrupt air, rail and sea links, cancel sports events, cut electrical power and damage property. With howling winds and driving rain, forecasters said Ciara would also hit France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
Newly constructed flood defences are seen here (left) beside the River Calder in Mytholmroyd, but proved insufficient to prevent the river bursting its banks and flooding the village. (Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)
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“There are no shops open for you to buy things from. And if you think you have a vehicle that is capable of driving through flood water still don’t do it.”

On Monday the wardens said: “It’s the morning after and possibly the first time people will get a chance to really take stock of the devastation.”

Flooding affected large sections of the River Calder and River Aire in West Yorkshire.

Further downstream, the main bridge at Elland has been closed for structural assessments after a large shipping container hit it and lodged underneath.

Martin Slater from the Environment Agency told BBC Radio Leeds that problems could continue. He said: “As the rain that fell yesterday moves down the River Aire catchment and the River Calder it will be going through Leeds overnight and today.

A woman clears debris outside a house in Mytholmroyd, northern England, on February 10, 2020 after flooding brought by Storm Ciara. - Storm Ciara grounded hundreds of flights Monday and left swatches of Europe without power after unleashing torrential rain and causing flash flooding that cancelled football matches in Britain. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)
A clean-up mission is underway in Mytholmroyd after flooding deluged the village. (Oli Scarff/AFP via Getty Images)

“So we do ask people to remain vigilant and stay away from rivers.”

Slater said: “The catchments are really saturated and there’s not places for any future rain to go, so we do ask people to be really careful.

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Pictured: Storm Ciara causes severe flooding and sends debris flying

“Some of our measuring devices recorded around about 100mm rain in a 12- to 18-hour period, so that’s a lot of rain falling in a very short period of time.

“Enormous quantities have fallen in a short period of time so that turns those small becks into raging torrents in places.”

Storm Ciara brought winds of 97mph, cancelling flights, rail services and sporting events including a Premier League game.

A "major incident" was declared by Lancashire Fire, with the Energy Networks Association reporting that 539,000 households had been hit by power cuts.

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