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Reform Magazine | December 11, 2017

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A letter from… Calder valley

A letter from… Calder valley

Justine Wyatt reports on flooding in the Calder valley

There have been floods in the Calder valley before, but never causing so much structural damage as the Boxing Day floods. There were 2,500 houses and 1,500 businesses flooded.  Riverside Primary School in Hebden Bridge, where I live, was deluged, including a kitchen which served five schools. The substation was flooded, so the power was out and the place was in darkness at night. The sheltered accommodation was evacuated.

When I went out on Boxing Day, the army were at the end of my road. Something like this makes you feel very vulnerable; my house is higher up but even so, I was frightened.

Our church meets in our community-owned Civic Centre in Luddenden Foot, on a road between the canal and the river. On Boxing Day, the two joined! We don’t know how deep the building was flooded at its height, but when we got in there it was four foot deep. The building had been transferred from the council to the community association two years ago, and volunteers spent that time plastering, decorating and updating it. It was upsetting, though of course a flooded community centre is not the same as losing your home.

The response of people to the flooding was amazing. The mosque in Halifax sent a van load of volunteers to Hebden Bridge to help clean up. So did the Rossendale Unity Welfare Society, who are mainly Muslim. Sikhs operated a curry kitchen in both Hebden Bridge and Mytholmroyd. A group of Syrian refugees came to Mytholmroyd from Manchester to clean up a primary school that was covered in deep mud. In Luddenden Foot, volunteers with power-jet cleaning equipment went around the area in their own time, looking for silted-up places to clean…

Justine Wyatt is the Minister of Luddenden Foot United Reformed Church and lives in Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire. She was talking to Stephen Tomkins

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This is an extract from the March 2016 edition of Reform.

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