HOMES and businesses were left devastated after the River Irwell burst its banks at the weekend — leaving many residents displaced from their homes and others fearing a repeat of the catastrophic events of the Boxing Day floods of 2015. Rosalyn Roden reports.

Dozens of homes and businesses were affected by flooding in the extreme weather conditions brought by Storm Ciara.

The River Irwell rose to critical levels on Sunday morning, with waters rising from just under half a metre to 3.5m in under six hours.

Streets in Bury, Ramsbottom, Summerseat, Radcliffe and Redvales were among the worst hit areas across Greater Manchester, where between 140 and 150 properties were flooded.

Flooding also struck in Peel Brow, Kenyon Street, Newby Close, Openshaw Fold Road, Pioneer Mills, Close Park and Parkside Close, to name a few.

Fire crews were called in to assist in Warth Road, Redvales, after it was flooded by more than one foot of water.

Bury Times: Residents are evacuated in Warth Road, Bury. Picture, Phil TaylorResidents are evacuated in Warth Road, Bury. Picture, Phil Taylor

Six Town, which manages homes across the borough on behalf of Bury Council, put up flood barriers on the Warth estate early on Sunday morning. Three STH residents were evacuated when the floods hit. One resident is in temporary housing, and four are staying with family. The remaining are staying in their properties.

About 24 people attended a rest centre at Castle Leisure Centre, set up by Bury Council for residents who were displaced from their homes. Two mini buses were also provided to move people from the Warth area to the centre.

Pilsworth Road was flooded in both directions, with cars left stranded and submerged underwater. Debris and rubbish were strewn across pavements, gardens, roads and parks where the waters spread outside of the river boundaries.

Bury Times: Emergency services help cars after they come to standstill in flooding at the M66 junction. Picture, Phil TaylorEmergency services help cars after they come to standstill in flooding at the M66 junction. Picture, Phil Taylor

Families are currently living in hotels, or alternative accommodation, while they wait to return to their homes.

A spokesman for Six Town Housing said: “A team of staff arrived on site early on Sunday to install flood barriers case of flooding to lessen the damage caused to properties, then worked throughout the day in difficult conditions to support and ensure the safety of affected tenants.

“We are currently on site and have set up a temporary office at 9 Bealey Drive where we can respond quickly to tenant enquiries and carry out work to the affected properties, which largely involves replacing flooring. We hope to get everyone back home for the end of this week.”

In total, 12 homes managed by Six Town Housing (STH) were affected by the floods. The same 12 properties require ongoing repairs.

On Sunday, construction company BAM were called to Close Park, where work is under way to build the first phase of a £40million flood defence scheme. Along with staff from the EA, the firm moved 400 tonnes of material and built a soil dam to prevent water from spreading inside properties in Morris Street, and reduced the impact at the park.

Bury Times: Flooding in Close Park, Radcliffe. Picture, Paul O'BrienFlooding in Close Park, Radcliffe. Picture, Paul O'Brien

Cllr David Jones, leader of Bury Council, said: “Storm Ciara shows just what can happen when huge amounts of rain fall in a very short time, and unfortunately it looks like we’re due a visit from Storm Dennis this coming weekend.

“The important thing is that we did not have a repeat of the suffering caused in the Boxing Day floods of 2015. A major reason for that was the success of the first phase of the flood defences, led by the Environment Agency. Fewer than 20 houses were evacuated this time, compared to more than 700 during Storm Eva. Even more of our residents will be protected when the next phases of the flood defences are completed.

“I’d like to thank the tremendous efforts by council staff and all those in our partner agencies for their work, and especially from the community who volunteered to help in whatever way they could.

“I was at the rest centre and spoke to residents who had had to leave their homes temporarily, and everyone was in good spirits. It takes extreme events like this to remind us just how resilient we are in Bury.”

Major clean-up operations have been under way at various locations this week. Volunteers from Friends of Nuttall Park and council staff have attended the site to clear tree branches and piles of silt and rubble from the green space as well as cleaning the rangers hut.

Bury Times: Nuttall Park, Ramsbottom. Picture, Phil TaylorNuttall Park, Ramsbottom. Picture, Phil Taylor

Sara Hodgkinson, who lives off Nuttall Lane and visits the park most days, said: “The devastation is really sad to see. The park is hugely valued – for me personally, it’s a real lifeline on my doorstep.

“It is upsetting to see it in such a state. “It is going to cost so much to fix everything. However I know that the community will rally round and get things sorted eventually. It will take a lot of effort though.”

Bury Times: The force of the water has pulled down fencing in Nuttall Park. Picture, Sara HodgkinsonThe force of the water has pulled down fencing in Nuttall Park. Picture, Sara Hodgkinson

Nuttall Park, Close Park and Goshen playing fields were all flooded, and the council attended 15 reports of fallen trees across the borough.

The council’s drainage teams removed debris from trash screens and checked flood hot spot locations. Its gully crews, highways crews and road/pavement sweepers were deployed in Warth, Ramsbottom and Radcliffe.

A full assessment of damage to the borough’s road network, trees and parks is being carried out.

An Environment Agency (EA) spokesman said: “We would like to express our support and sympathy to all those whose homes or businesses have been flooded over the weekend. We know how distressing the consequences of flooding can be and we would like to take this opportunity to reassure members of the Bury, Radcliffe and Redvales communities that the Environment Agency and our partners are working hard to ensure people recover as quickly as possible from the effects of this devastating storm.

“Of those areas hit by flooding at the weekend, at least 12,000 properties and businesses were successfully protected by flood defences. Unfortunately, 140-150 properties across Greater Manchester did suffer flooding. In Radcliffe and Redvales, our contractors (BAM), currently working on the £40m Flood Risk Management Scheme (Phase 1), worked to plug the public access gaps in the defences, to reduce risk of flooding to Close Park, Bury. Alongside our partners, our teams on the ground also worked to infill the gaps at end of Morris St, using three machines and moving 400 tonnes of material. This created a temporary barrier which prevented flooding to a key community. Our field teams were out in the area well in advance of the Storm clearing debris screens and worked 24/7 during the incident to keep communities as protected as possible.

“Early in 2016, we committed an unprecedented £40m to improve flood protection for homes and businesses in Radcliffe and Redvales and the scheme is progressing at a good pace.”

The defences in Close Park will see a 2.5m flood wall built at the rear of properties in Parkside Close, and a 3m-high earth embankment on the far side of the park, with football pitches acting as a floodplain.