Over 15,000 homes and businesses hit by winter floods
More than 15,000 homes and businesses were flooded in areas across northern England in last year's devastating storms, new analysis shows.
Councils are still helping flood-hit homes recover from the disruption caused last winter as storms Desmond, Eva and Frank swept across the country, the Local Government Association (LGA) said.
Ahead of this winter, town halls are encouraging people to be prepared for future flooding, by taking steps such as checking if they are at risk of flooding, signing up to free warnings and identifying what to take with them if they need to evacuate.
A snapshot survey by the LGA found that 15,237 homes and businesses were flooded in just eight areas.
Cumbria saw 6,568 homes and 897 businesses flooded; Leeds 298 and 375; Calderdale 2,135 and 945; Lancashire 2,090 and 533; North Yorkshire 404 and 96; York had about 350 and 157; Northumberland 197 homes and 90 businesses, Kirklees 37 and 65, the survey found.
Councils say they have been working through the year to help people get back on their feet, collecting ruined household items such as carpets and furniture for disposal and advising on flood protection grants and affordable insurance.
Council leaders are calling for future flood defence to be devolved by the Government to local areas so that councils can work with communities and businesses to ensure money goes to projects that best suit local needs.
The Government must also bring in mandatory anti-flood requirements for new homes in building regulations, such as raised electrical sockets and wiring, ventilation brick covers, sealed floors and raised damp courses, they urge.
Martin Tett, LGA environment spokesman, said: "Councils are doing everything they can to protect households and businesses from the possibility of further devastating flooding this winter.
"Such was the severity of last year's storms, some councils, who have experienced significant reductions to their core funding, are still helping residents to recover even now."
He said devolving funding to local areas would support projects that reflected needs such as protecting key roads and bridges to keep residents and businesses moving.
He added: "Councils know their local areas and are best placed to help families get back on their feet. The Government must be more flexible in its approach to flood funding."
A flood resilience review by the Government into the winter storms outlined £12.5 million for temporary defences such as barriers and high-volume water pumps at strategic areas.
The review said the Met Office has concluded that winter monthly rainfall totals could plausibly be 20% higher than recent past extremes in some parts of the country and up to 30% higher in other parts.
It warned that, in the next decade, there was a "non-negligible chance" of an event similar or even greater in scale than the floods last year or those which left parts of Somerset under water for weeks in the winter of 2013/2014.
A Government spokesman said: "We have already provided almost £300 million to help householders and businesses get back on their feet and we continue to work with local councils to help those affected.
"Our record £2.5 billion investment will better protect 300,000 homes from flooding by 2021 and we're working closely with local councils, utility companies and residents to develop solutions tailored to local communities."