Leeds floods a month on: The first signs of impending chaos

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THE first real sign of impending chaos came with news of a landslide in the Micklethwaite area of Wetherby early on Boxing Day afternoon.

Within hours, the festivities had turned into a nightmare for hundreds of families as floods wreaked havoc across Leeds.

BOXING DAY 2015: A car and a pedestrian make their way  through floodwater on Kirkstall Road. PICS: Tony Johnson

BOXING DAY 2015: A car and a pedestrian make their way through floodwater on Kirkstall Road. PICS: Tony Johnson

More than 100 flood alerts and warnings had been issued by the Environment Agency on Christmas Day in England and Wales while Storm Eva did her savage worst.

But no one could have expected the scenes that unfolded the following day in places such as Kirkstall, where the effect of the torrent from the River Aire was witnessed by Argie Road resident Surajit Grewal.

He would later tell the Yorkshire Evening Post: “I’d rung the fish and chip shop to see if it was open and he told me there was a flood.

“I didn’t think anything of it and then suddenly the water started coming down [Kirkstall Road].

“It was unbelievable, like a river coming past the end of the street.”

Water levels rose to around eight feet at Armley’s Leeds Industrial Museum - treble the previous all-time high, recorded in 1866.

Conditions were so bad at Stourton’s Thwaite Mills that six canal boats moored at the museum were swept away.

Numerous industrial units on Haigh Park Road in Stourton were also caught up in the mayhem, with stock wrecked and floors left covered in sludge and debris.

In the city centre, the surging waters did an estimated £100,000 of damage to the Aire Bar, which stands next to the river on The Calls.

The flooding also caused major problems in Otley as the River Wharfe rose to two metres, more than three times its normal level.

In all, around 2,200 properties in Leeds were affected by the most serious floods seen in West Yorkshire since the Second World War.

The trail of destruction took in 1,700 homes, 500 business and other buildings such as churches and sports clubs.

Today the total cost of the damage and the knock-on impact on the city’s economy has still to be calculated but it is likely to run into many millions of pounds.


THE devastating flooding of Boxing Day brought out the very best in the people of Leeds.

As soon as the scale of the damage became clear, community leaders and residents took to social media to start mobilising clear-up operations.

One of the most notable saw dozens of volunteers heading to the Kirkstall Bridge Inn, ready to clear tonnes of sludge and debris from its car park.

Similar public-spirited efforts helped other premises in Kirkstall such as the Sheesh Mahal restaurant as well as attractions like Rodley Nature Reserve.

Leeds City Council leader Coun Judith Blake summed up the mood when she hailed the recovery work being done by local authority staff, emergency services and “hundreds of community-based volunteers”.

And the determination of the city not to be beaten by Mother Nature has since been underlined with donations of more than £100,000 to the Yorkshire Evening Post-backed Leeds Flood Relief Appeal.