Mytholmroyd’s Flood Alleviation Scheme can’t be built soon enough for Serah Cullinan-Stooks whose family home was severely damaged in the Boxing Day Floods of 2015.
She has since been involved in the development of the new defence scheme and helped gather local neighbours to have their say on the finish of the new flood wall which will be built close to her home.
The destruction caused that day has had a devastating effect on Serah. She worries when it rains really heavily and the sound of a flood siren makes her feel physically sick.
The mother-of-three said: “I’m desperate for the Mytholmroyd flood defence to be completed so that we will all be better protected.”
The family were at home on that fateful morning and went to look around the village about 7am that night to assess the risk. However, it wasn’t until Serah received a severe flood warning from the Environment Agency by email that she realised how serious the incident could be.
Serah, a director of an IT consultancy business, said:
“The river was high but it all escalated very quickly and we had no idea of what was coming our way. We were prepared for the same level of flooding as we had experienced previously - we had our playroom tanked, a flood door fitted and we sandbagged the gate to our home.
“Nothing could have prepared us for that day. The amount of damage was unbelievable and the force of the water petrifying. The river wrapped around our house and we had lots of debris, six inches of silt and other people’s stuff coming into our cellar.
“I did fall out of love with my house after the flood and didn’t want to move back in. Until it has happened to you, no one can have any idea of the destruction an event like that can cause or the huge impact on your life.”
It took 51 weeks to repair the damage to the family’s Georgian house on Burnley Road, opposite where the new bridge will be built including building a new kitchen.
The sheer force of the water swept through the flood door on the cellar which had been converted into an office and a playroom causing their four- storey house to shake and broke all the windows on that level. The flood water then rose to nine feet and up into the floor above wrecking the kitchen.
Serah, her husband Richard, three teenage children, a terrified dog and two rabbits were trapped upstairs overnight. Then their home suffered further damage caused by a fire as the consumer unit exploded in the cellar when electricity was restored to the house. This left them without electricity for three days and they had no heating until New Year’s Eve.
The Stooks family went to stay with friends for a couple of nights but then decided to move back into their house whilst it was being repaired around them. Their house wasn’t their own for almost a year – they had workmen on site, rooms crammed with furniture and a temporary kitchen.
Despite working really hard to save their belongings by moving them up to higher floors, they never dreamt the water would come up to the roof of the cellar. Luckily Serah and Richard rescued all the paperwork connected to their business which had been stored in the office but there were many things such as a vinyl record collection which was smashed and could never be replaced.
“We made a real effort to save as much as we could rather than relying on the insurance to pay out for new things and took photos of everything that we had to throw away which really helped us when agreeing our claim, said Serah.
“It was really tough on our children, they were very distressed by it all. My youngest daughter was in her final year at Scout Road Primary which was so badly damaged that children had to be moved to another site temporarily. She never got to say goodbye to that school as it hadn’t reopened before she moved on to upper school which was a real shame.”