Long road to recovery after winter flooding

Almost a year since storms and flooding caused millions of pounds worth of damage to Northumberland, work is still continuing to support communities and repair infrastructure.

Wednesday, 16th November 2016, 5:48 pm
Updated Thursday, 17th November 2016, 2:18 pm
The River Till flooded the basement of Heatherslaw Mill in the storms in early January.

Storm Desmond last December marked the start of two-months of severe weather which left 214 homes and 94 businesses flooded, 30 bridges and 98 roads damaged and caused 17 landslips.

Since then the county council and its partners have been working tirelessly to support residents and ensure roads and paths damaged during the storms have been brought back into use.

Cllr Ian Swithenbank, member for local services, said: “The fact we still have more than 50 engineering schemes still outstanding shows the scale of the damage caused last winter and we have had to prioritise a number of projects. However we realise that all the schemes are important to local communities and I would like to thank all the staff, both from the council and from partner organisations who have worked tirelessly to get the county back on its feet.

“What many people don’t see, but is equally important, is all the work that has gone on behind the scenes in securing funding for affected communities, both private residents and businesses, to allow their properties to be repaired and in many cases better protected against future flooding.”

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Shortly after the storms subsided the council secured £14.6m in government funding towards its £24m repair bill to deliver a wide programme of highway repairs.

Many of these projects involve complex engineering and design works, and negotiations with landowners. So far 31 out of 85 schemes have been completed including major repairs to bridges at Ovingham, Whitfield and Pauperhaugh, as well as road repairs and bank stabilisation works on the A695 at Widehaugh and reconstruction of a new section of road at Bywell following major landslips in both these areas.

Works to deliver the rest of the programme will continue throughout the winter and into next year, including the construction of a new surface water drainage system in Corbridge which is due to start on site in late November.

Aside from the engineering work, the council has also:

Supported around £750,000 investment in measures to better protect residents’ homes and businesses which flooded, protecting over 150 properties.

Helped secure £638,000 in wider financial support to affected residents and businesses.

Cleaned out over 7,500 gullies and removed over 200 tonnes of silt from them in the west of the county alone.

Worked with landowners in significant flood risk areas to ensure they are aware of their responsibilities and to help maintain watercourses that run through their land.

Helped 13 communities develop new and improved local flood action plans for their towns and villages.

Carried out a detailed investigation into the winter’s flood events, in accordance with their statutory responsibilities, which will be published on its website by the end of November.