A MAJOR clean-up is under way after a flash flood burst through homes and swept away roads in a West Yorkshire community.
Homes and businesses in the Calder Valley were again hit by flooding following torrential rain.
Properties in Todmorden, where the Environment Agency’s flood sirens were sounded, were particularly badly affected after a heavy downpour left some spots under one-and-a-half feet of water yesterday evening.
The nearby village of Walsden was hit by up to 18in (46cm) of water last night after extremely heavy rain.
The flood caused “sheer devastation”, according to residents, as it poured from a culvert and down a side street, ripping huge chunks out of the road surface and destroying the road.
Water was still pouring down the street and through at least one house today and around 20 homes are thought to have been flooded.
Walsden resident Roger Stansfield, who was cleaning up his property this morning, said: “It started raining really heavily and within 15 minutes this road was completely flooded to the depth of my wellington boots.
“There’s nothing you can do.”
Flood warden Keith Crabtree said an “unprecedented” amount of rain has caused “sheer devastation”.
He said: “Every road in and out of Todmorden was flooded.
“There’s still a lot of water coming off the hillside.
“It happened so quickly. The floods 12 months ago took three days to build up. This one, we just got three quarters of an hour of cloudburst and there’s just nothing you can do about that.”
Users of social networking sites captured dramatic photographs of torrents of water surging through Todmorden following the tea-time deluge. West Yorkshire Police called on drivers to steer clear of various routes, including a damaged river bridge, as fire crews were dispatched to help pump out the water.
There were reports of residents forming a human barricade to stop vehicles creating waves by using flooded Halifax Road.
One resident was swept around 50ft (15m) by the torrent.
He was carried downhill and ended up on the railway tracks at end of his street.
Clearing out his flood-damaged home today, the man said he was too shaken to talk about the incident.
One of his neighbours said: “The water was bubbling up and he was trying to redirect it. He went through the gate, was taken down the road and under the gate, on to the railway lines.
“He thought he was a goner. It’s a fair distance. And with the torrent that was coming through, he’s lucky to be alive today. Very, very lucky.”
Meanwhile, rail passengers on trains between Hebden Bridge and Manchester Victoria faced lengthy delays because of flooding on the line near Walsden station.
Todmorden town councillor Josef Rez said the problems had been caused by overflowing drains rather than rising river levels.
“It’s flash flooding. The drains can’t take the water,” he said.
“Last year was very wet, and flooded the whole of the water table. We were hoping this summer would dry it out. The money that has been spent on the riverside seems to be working, but you can’t do anything to stop a huge cloud burst like this.”
Todmorden and neighbouring Hebden Bridge hit the headlines last summer after suffering heavy flooding, which prompted a visit by Prime Minister David Cameron, a £3m clean-up and action to improve flood defences.
Pete Lazenby, 63, who lives in the upper Calder Valley, said yesterday’s rainfall eclipsed anything he had witnessed. “I’ve lived in the Calder Valley for about 14 years and I have never seen anything like it,” he said.
The area should escape further heavy rain today, but some downpours are expected tomorrow.
West Yorkshire Police asked people to avoid areas in the town, saying that waves from driving through the water could damage houses.
Railway lines were submerged and Walsden station remained closed today as maintenance crews repaired the tracks.
The flooding in Todmorden followed a day of severe rain across the UK with heavy, slow moving and thundery showers crossing the country.
The Environment Agency currently has three flood warnings, where people should expect flooding and take immediate action - two on the River Spodden in Whitworth, in Lancashire, and one at Walsden in Todmorden, as well as eight flood alerts across the country.
However, forecasters said the recent hot weather was expected to return later this week, with temperatures up to 30C (86F) in the South East on Thursday.
Matt Dobson, a senior forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said on Tuesday: “Today there could be scattered heavy showers and a few thunder storms to the northern half of the UK.
“Across the South there will be a band of rain moving eastwards across southern England this morning, leaving sunny spells and scattered showers in the afternoon.
Mr Dobson said: “Some areas will see heavy rain today, with temperatures a shade below what you would expect, but they will begin to rise on Wednesday, when it may reach 23C (73.4F) to 24C (75.2F) in the South East.
“We can expect Thursday to be very warm or hot, with temperatures up to 30C (86F) in the South East, 28C (82.4F) to 29C (84.2F) across the Midlands, and 25C (77F) to 27C (80.6F) in the North.
“There will be a growing risk of showers and thunderstorms from Friday night into the weekend.”