Leeds floods a month on: Road to recovery is clearly a long one for our city

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The deluge has long since subsided and the street flows with traffic rather than torrents of water once more.

But, a month later, the legacy of the devastating Boxing Day floods is still very much in evidence along Kirkstall Road. Sandbags remain piled in front of the doors of some businesses.

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One takeaway looks all but abandoned – the shop front in disarray, a tell-tale dehumidifier all that’s visible through the window.

A note displayed at Roast and Toast says the cafe is closed “until further notice” and there are no signs of life at Sheesh Mahal restaurant, where a solitary sweeping brush is propped up near the front
 door.

The restaurant’s phone goes unanswered, a forlorn message telling callers: “I’m really, really sorry but due to flooding Sheesh Mahal is temporarily closed.”

The neighbouring Hasan’s restaurant, run by the same family, is unlikely to open again for four to six months after sustaining major damage.

Owner Hasan Chaudhry estimates his losses, not including revenue, at £500,000.

He said: “It’s a case of a complete rebuild – we have to take everything back to brick. We’re still waiting for the insurance company to pay out. It’s very slow going.”

There are similar hints of frustration elsewhere at the way the difficult recovery is being hampered by bureaucracy.

A sign in the window of the fish and chip shop reads: “I will be open as soon as the insurance stop messing me about and sort my shop.”

Flooding in Kirkstall Road.  27 December 2015.  Picture Bruce Rollinson

Flooding in Kirkstall Road. 27 December 2015. Picture Bruce Rollinson

A couple of doors away customers of the Tyrannosaurus Pets shop are told that the business has temporarily moved to Otley Road in Headingley.

Matthew Pedder, who runs the shop, had to find homes for about 250 animals while the move took place.

He said: “I don’t know if I could go through that again. It’s a bit worrying being in that area and thinking that it could flood.

“I don’t know how long we will stay in the Kirkstall area.”

He said takings had dropped following the move, adding: “If trade picks up in Headingley, we should be okay. If it stays low, that’s when things start getting tight.”

Mr Pedder praised the reaction of the public, which he said had been “great” – a sentiment echoed by the owners of Premier convenience store.

Faraz Jaffry, who runs the shop along with his mother and father, Rubina and Sher Afghan, said the business had been helped by an army of volunteers.

He said: “We had so many people here helping – friends and family, but also people who we’d never met before.

“The amount of manpower we had was what got us through.

“If it had just been us we would still be cleaning up.

“After seeing my own community help our business, I would definitely do the same for anyone.

“We were overwhelmed. There’s a real sense of achievement.”

Nevertheless, the ripple effect caused by the disruption to other businesses is taking its toll on the shop.

Mr Jaffry said: “We’ve lost a lot of trade because the takeaways aren’t open. I’ve got a feeling some of them will never reopen. It means on an evening our business loses out.”

The road to recovery is clearly a long one for many of the Kirkstall traders.

But among the upheaval there remains a sense of defiance, summed up by the note on the chip shop door. It ends: “I will be back.”

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