Leeds floods one year on: How the community rallied

HELPING HANDS: Volunteers clearing up on Kirkstall Road.
HELPING HANDS: Volunteers clearing up on Kirkstall Road.
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Volunteers in Leeds banded together after businesses and homes were lashed by the floods on Boxing Day last year.

The remarkable clean-up effort, involving hundreds of volunteers, helped people get back on their feet by clearing debris and damage that the rainwater left in its wake.

Some of the largest scale efforts in response to last year’s flooding in the city have been carried out as part of the Team Kirkstall clean-up programme.

To date, there have been more than 15 riverbank clean-ups carried out and more than 150 volunteers have spent countless hours tackling the debris.

They have collectively removed more than 12 tonnes of waste and flood debris from the River Aire.

The programme, led by project manager Phil Marken, started in May, when more than 50 people took part in the first clean-up at the River Aire.

Nearly five tonnes of rubbish was cleared in the effort on May 20, including 70 tyres, beds, shopping trollies and bags.

Mr Marken organised volunteering after the floods hit last year and has now transformed his Open Source business shop into a flood regeneration hub for the community.

He said: “I do think we are a much stronger community now than we were 12 months ago.

“The floods catalysed a huge wave of community involvement and it’s our responsibility to maintain that.”

Mr Marken said he was impressed by the number of people who had offered to volunteer for clean-up efforts in Leeds following the floods.

He added: “I‘m very pleased that people continue to turn out in such numbers. I do think that we are a much stronger community now than we were 12 months ago.

“People keep coming to the clean ups, they really want to find a way to be more involved.”

Leeds West MP Rachel Reeves has also praised the volunteers and strength of the community in Kirkstall and across Leeds after their mammoth clean-up efforts following the storms.

She told the Yorkshire Evening Post: “A year ago the people of Kirkstall and beyond came together to rebuild our community and the after the devastating floods.

“To get Kirkstall back on its feet at a time of great adversity the people showed the strength of our community .

“Over the last year as a local MP, I have been pressing Government to match that commitment and determination by ensuring we have the proper defences that we need.

“Sometimes in the hardest of times, we see the best in people in the community.

“We certainly saw that in Kirkstall after the floods.”