Leeds floods: Defiance of a city that refused to be beaten

Volunteers clear the mud from the Kirkstall Bridge pub.
Volunteers clear the mud from the Kirkstall Bridge pub.
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FIRST came the floods – then came the fightback.

And what a fightback it was, embodying the can-do spirit for which people in Leeds are famed.

Young Eleanor Emmel  pitches in with volunteers tp help clean up the devastation at Rodley Nature Reserve after flooding on Boxing Day.

Young Eleanor Emmel pitches in with volunteers tp help clean up the devastation at Rodley Nature Reserve after flooding on Boxing Day.

The city could have been forgiven for throwing up its arms in collective despair when the scale of the devastation wreaked by Boxing Day’s flooding became clear.

More than 1,000 homes in Leeds had been left under water, with many hundreds also suffering power cuts.

Businesses such as the Premier convenience store on Kirkstall Road and the Aire Bar in Leeds city centre faced up to a miserable start to 2016.

In their hour of need, however, they got backing from their local communities and the rest of a city determined not to be beaten by Mother Nature.

Flooding at Kirkstall.

Flooding at Kirkstall.

Monday saw dozens of volunteers gathering at the Kirkstall Bridge Inn ready to clear tonnes of sludge and debris from its car park.

The heartwarming scenes at the pub were replicated wherever assistance was required.

At Kirkstall Road’s Sheesh Mahal restaurant, where owner Azram Chaudhry said he was “overwhelmed” by the support he had received.

At Rhonda O’Reilly’s Bankfield Terrace home in Kirkstall, where Tesco dropped off a van-load of household goods after hearing her cellar had flooded.

Flood waters on Kirkstall Road.

Flood waters on Kirkstall Road.

At Kirkstall Road’s Tyrannosaurus Pets store, where boss Matthew Pedder had an “awesome” response to his plea for people to temporarily rehouse its snakes and lizards.

And this was no one-day wonder – the recovery effort remained in full swing yesterday, with more than 40 volunteers helping out during a clean-up at Rodley Nature Reserve.

There is still a long way to go for residents and workers in the flood-hit communities of Leeds, of course. But, thanks to the city’s never-say-die attitude, they have made quite a start.

The Leeds Community Foundation charity has launched a Yorkshire Evening Post-backed appeal to help people affected by the floods.

To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/leeds-flood-relief-appeal.

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