Video: Army of volunteers helps with clean up after Leeds floods

0
Have your say

The rains had stopped and the waters subsided.

And in their place today, a tide of goodwill emerged as the Kirkstall community rallied to help the hundreds of residents and businesses hit by the devastating Boxing Day floods.

Volunteers at the Kirkstall Bridge pub

Volunteers at the Kirkstall Bridge pub

Dozens of volunteers gathered at the Kirkstall Bridge Inn, on Bridge Road, at around 10am to clear tonnes of sludge and debris from the car park and help to clean the cellar.

Part of the pub’s beer garden had been washed away and benches lost as the River Aire reached record levels and breached the flood defences next to the pub on Saturday afternoon.

Manager Ian Forster said a trickle of water into the cellar quickly became a torrent.

“We had been steadily mopping up and we went for a coffee and it just exploded,” he said. “By the time we got back the water had come over the walls into the car park. It was ‘fall of Troy’ kind of stuff.”

Jean Mellor's cellar was flooded

Jean Mellor's cellar was flooded

Regular customer Alleyne Oman was among those who answered the call to help today.

She said: “The Bridge is my second home. Me and my partner are here a couple of times a week and it’s one of the reasons we moved to the area. Everyone knows how hard the guys work – they put their heart and soul into the place and it’s the least we can do to come out and help.”

Steve Holt, who owns the pub and Kirkstall Brewery, said: “It’s just amazing to see so many people come down. It has really taken us by surprise. We can’t thank them enough.”

Most homes escaped damage as Kirkstall Road was turned into a de facto river on Saturday, in many cases thanks to their elevated positions on steep streets above the water.

Sheesh Mahal owner Azream Chaudhry, with volunteers

Sheesh Mahal owner Azream Chaudhry, with volunteers

However, the cellars of some had been flooded, including the home of Jean Bosomworth and Jean Mellor, on Haddon Avenue.

Ms Mellor, 72, said: “It was awful, frightening. We didn’t go to bed that night.”

Ms Bosomworth, who has lived in the house for 30 years, said: “I have never seen anything like it. It’s terrible, but all I can think to myself is that there are people worse off than us.”

The two women were today still waiting to assess the cost of the incident, which damaged a fridge freezer, a tumble dryer and gardening tools as well as the electrics.

Tyrannosaurus Pets owner Matthew Pedder with one of the snakes which survived

Tyrannosaurus Pets owner Matthew Pedder with one of the snakes which survived

But they were touched by the spirit of people who wanted to help.

Ms Bosomworth said: “The lad next door came round and tried to make a DIY pump to get the water out. The number of people who I don’t even know who were offering food or help has been amazing.

“It’s quite moving to see the community spirit.”

Rhonda O’Reilly, of Bankfield Terrace, said she had lost possessions including belongings she kept following the death of her son 12 years ago when her cellar flooded.

She was given a boost today, however, when Tesco delivered a van-load of household goods to her door.

Volunteers were also set to help her clean up.

“I’m just so touched that people care,” she said.

Meanwhile Matthew Pedder, who runs the Tyranosaurus Pets store on Kirkstall Road, issued a call for people to help rehouse the 500 snakes and lizards the shop currently stocks after they survived the flooding.

Mr Pedder, who is unsure how long it will be before the shop regains its power supply, said: “The response from the general public has been absolutely awesome, we’ve had so many groups knocking on the door to see if they can help.”

Down the road at the Sheesh Mahal restaurant Azram Chaudhry, who has run the business for more than two decades, said the cost of restoring trade could run into “hundreds of thousands of pounds”.

The basement of the restaurant contained the kitchen and supplies, which were completely destroyed.

“I’m gutted, words can’t really describe how I feel,” he said. “It’s easy to break things, but it’s so difficult to mend. It will take months to sort out.”

Mr Chaudhry said he had been sent thousands of messages of support and added: “I’m overwhelmed by the support we have had.”

Michael Tennant.

Police had to use stinger to stop burglar during stolen car chase