Storm Franklin: Recovery underway after broken pontoon smashes into structure as council releases statement

Recovery is underway after many areas of Leeds were flooded over the weekend - as Leeds Council said the combination of three consecutive storms "brought challenges across the whole city".

By Daniel Sheridan
Monday, 21st February 2022, 6:03 pm
Updated Monday, 21st February 2022, 6:04 pm

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Astonishing footage shows moment Armley Mills bridge is destroyed by pontoon dur...

Storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin have battered Leeds in recent days - causing businesses and homes to flood and travel chaos at Leeds Station, buses and for drivers.

Incredible footage received by the YEP on Monday showed the partial destruction of an old footbridge crossing the River Aire near Armley Mills.Torrential rain as a result of Storm Eunice led to rising river levels on the River Aire and flood alerts were put in place.

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Flooding from Storm Franklin has affected many parts of Leeds

The alert warned residents and business owners that 'flooding was expected'.

A total 30 locations across Leeds had flood warnings in place, with houses in Wortley left flooded last night.

Flooding on the rail line between Leeds and Shipley also led to significant delays and cancellations.

Rachel Reeves - MP for Leeds West - said she had been in touch with the council and support services to help those who would be "extremely worried" after the floods.

Flooding from Storm Franklin has affected many parts of Leeds

“Especially after the terrible impact on homes and businesses from the 2015 Boxing Day floods, I know people will be extremely worried.

“With increasing storms and as water levels rise, I've been in touch with local councillors, Leeds City Council and support services on any developments.”

In Pudsey, a portion of Troydale Lane flooded again - echoing similar scenes 12 months ago. Pudsey councillors Simon Seary and Dawn Seary were on the scene all day on Sunday, helping residents' recovery efforts.

Speaking to the YEP, coun Seary explained: "Once the beck becomes too high, the bridge limits the volume of water getting through it causing it to flood onto the road.

"Once the beck gets to a certain height the gullies are unable to get rid of the rain water making it worse.

"I'm aware that [the council] have plans, but still waiting on modelling results to build a natural flood barrier further up stream to restrict the flow which will help all locations along the beck."

Elsewhere in Wortley, the beck flooded onto the road and junction at Branch Road - leaving residents again battling to save their homes.

In February 2021, the YEP spoke to Wortley resident Jordan Denny who helped in the efforts to stop flooding damage.

Twelve months on, Jordan again witnessed residents placing sandbags outside their homes as the junction flooded.

He said the council had done "nothing" to help.

"I know the same people as last year were affected", Jordan said on Monday.

"Nothing never gets done around here, we just get left.

"Dr Drainage came out to try help and brought sand bags.

"Other than that, the police and council were useless.

"People were moving the closed signs and driving through.

"An ambulance struggled to get past as they only blocked one side of the road off even though both sides were flooded."

Fez Mazhar works for Dr Drainage.

Alongside colleague Josh Longford, Fez pumped water away from the homes for free throughout the night.

"It’s a real shame that it’s happened again", Fez said.

"I wish we could do more.

"Sadly without the help of the council and police we aren’t able to do much more."

A Leeds City Council spokesperson said the combination of the three storms had brought "high winds, heavy snow and substantial rainfall".

In a statement provided to the YEP, the council said storm conditions on Sunday were "particularly challenging" and recovery was now underway after the pontoon - part of the Flood Alleviation Scheme construction work - floated downstream towards the city centre leaving a trail of destruction.

The statement continued: "A structure which was to be removed as part of FAS2 was badly damaged.

"However, inspections of footbridges in its path found no structural damage and they were declared safe.

"We have begun plans to recover the pieces of the broken pontoon and the plant equipment, when river levels return to a safe level.

"There is no immediate concern about these causing damage in the meantime.

“Whilst river levels are returning to normal so safe working can resume on FAS2, we are working hard to source replacement equipment.

"At this stage the project team are not expecting any significant delays to the scheme."

The spokesperson said water levels "remain high" in some areas of Leeds and road closures "remain in place".

“Bridge engineers have been inspecting a number of structures across the district", the spokesperson said.

"This has included Thorp Arch bridge in Boston Spa which was shut this morning by the Police following reports from a member of the public.

"Following inspection, the bridge has been reopened.

"Daily inspections will take place as water levels recede.

“Thanks go to everyone involved in the hard work over the weekend across our highways team, our contractors, Network Rail and other partners, and the emergency services, to keep people safe and the city moving.

“People should continue to check information from the Environment Agency and travel providers before making journeys.”

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