IT’S been a year since they were driven from their house by raging floodwater – but Brian and Victoria Laverty hope this is the weekend they can finally move back home.
The couple, along with their then seven-month-old son Fox, were forced to leave their home in Garstang on December 3 last year, as Storm Desmond battered the county.
One year on from the worst storms in living memory, we look at the work that has been carried out in the past 12 months to repair the damage and ensure it won’t happen again, and catch up with some of the victims of the disaster.
Victoria Laverty, 42, said: “It’s been absolutely horrendous.”
“Hopefully this is the end of it all and we’re now busy getting things ready to move back in tomorrow.”
And the Laverty’s are not the only ones. The floods caused by storms Desmond and Eva became some of the worst in Lancashire’s history and work is still continuing to repair the damage.
In the past year, The Environment Agency has spent £121m in Lancashire alone to repair the damage and to better protect the 33,000 affected homes from further flooding.
Here we look at every project that has been carried out up and down the county in the aftermath of the flooding disaster.
County Councillor Marcus Johnstone, cabinet member for environment, planning and cultural services, said: “The December 2015 floods were the worst not just in living memory, but in the history of Lancashire. They affected more than 200 communities and as well as causing distress and disruption to homeowners and businesses, they also damaged critical infrastructure such as roads, bridges and electricity supply.
“The agencies responsible for managing the risk of flooding have been working very hard together to understand how each individual flooding incident happened and to take action to manage or reduce the risk of it happening again. This has been a huge task and the agencies involved have had to make decisions around where to prioritise resources, so there is more detail relating to some communities than others.
“These reports are the latest stage in the ongoing process of sharing the results of that work, ensuring that people are fully informed about plans for their communities, and we will continue to update the reports every quarter, as work continues in affected communities.”
The first floods hit on December 3 as Storm Desmond caused millions of pounds worth of damage across the north west. Rainfall levels remained high through December until 100 flood alerts and warnings were issued across England and Wales as Storm Eva took hold, bringing torrential rain.
With Christmas for many across the county ruined, hundreds of Lancashire families were moved out of their homes on Boxing Day as the heavy rain continued until the end of December, compounding their misery.
The devastation spread from as far north of Lancaster, where 42,000 homes had their power cut, to as far south as Croston, where then Prime Minister David Cameron promised to spend £114m on flood defences in the next six years in Lancashire.
The damage caused in the small Wyre village of St Michaels on Wyre even prompted a visit from Prince Harry, who spoke to some of its worst affected residents as well as praising the 2nd Battalion, The Duke of Lancaster’s Regiment, who spent their Christmas and New Year helping out in flood-hit regions.
Now, agencies across the county are keen to make sure Lancashire never sees that kind of devastation from flooding again and have been continuously working throughout the year repairing and improving flood defences. Kath Tanner, flood recovery manager for the Environment Agency said: “This map gives the public the full picture of our recovery work. Each pin on the map represents a place where the Environment Agency has been working to repair flood defences or clear gravel and debris washed downstream by the floods.
“We’ve been sending weekly progress updates to flood action groups, parish councils and local media – this google map brings all the information together in one place and makes it easier for people to see what’s been happening in their area. What’s not captured on the map is all the work our engineers and surveyors have been doing behind the scenes to investigate the cause and extent of the December floods. This information has informed a series of Flood Investigation Reports being drafted by Cumbria County Council and Lancashire County Council. These provide vital background data and evidence that we’ll now use to inform community flood risk management plans and future spending on flood defences.”
To sign up for Flood Warnings, visit www.gov.uk/flood or call Floodline on 0345 988 1188.
People who flooded in December are also being urged to apply for the £5,000 resilience grant from their district/borough council. The deadline for applications has been extended to Friday, March 31 2017.