Sunday, 20 December 2015

Flood update after visiting areas affected this weekend

This weekend I made it my key priority to visit the areas affected by the recent Storm Desmond floods.

The floods have had a huge impact on parts of the Tyne Valley, with record river levels recorded at both Bywell and Corbridge.

Levels at Bywell reached 6.96m, which is the highest recorded level since that gauge was installed in 1964 .

The River Tyne at Corbridge reached 5.76 metres, which is the highest level recorded by the gauging station since it was installed in 1998, and 6.96m at Bywell. 

The Enivorment Agency have confirmed to me that 150% of our local monthly average rain fell in just 24 hours.

This weekend I visited some the areas affected further up the Tyne such as Warden, where the Boatside Inn and other local properties took a real hit from the flooding. 

Clearly the concrete defence barrier there was too low and whilst the grass flood defence above the bridge held - the below bridge defences were insufficient. 

I also took time to visit Corbridge and speak to local residents who have their homes damaged by the very severe flooding. The attitude of locals there was incredible in the face of such adversity. All credit to them at this difficult time.

Perhaps the biggest long term challenge is the future of Ovingham Bridge.

After it's long awaited £4.4m refurbishment, the bridge was finally re-opened and just 48 hours later - the bridge was hit by Storm Desmond along with several properties in the village.

Still surrounded by buckled scaffolding, currently the bridge is closed to cars and only pedestrians are able to use it.

Northumberland County Council is working to clear debris from the site before the scaffolding can come down, and today I had a chance to speak to the contractors on site.

Divers will be checking the footings of the bridge tomorrow and we also have a visit from the Minister in charge of the flood recovery, James Wharton MP, to see the damage for himself.

The process of recovery will not be easy - but I would urge local people to read this post on the help available and contact me if you need further assistance: