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City defences worked as intended during storm Babet

Leeds City Council has provided an update on the impacts of storm Babet, which occurred from October 19-21, 2023. Yellow and amber rain alerts were issued by the Met Office. The storm led to increased river levels, peaking at 3.64m at the Armley gauge on the river Aire, which was higher than usual but lower than previous storms like Ciara in 2020, Dudley, Eunice, and Franklin in 2022.

Council services collaborated with partners, including the Environment Agency, emergency services, and community groups, to respond to the storm. Their efforts resulted in a minimal number of flooding incidents, currently under investigation.

The Leeds Flood Alleviation Scheme was activated on October 20, successfully preventing flooding in the city centre. This marked the 9th operation of the £50 million scheme since its completion in 2017. The Phase 2 of the scheme is under construction and won’t offer full protection until spring 2024, but some elements have already proven effective, like flood walls protecting the Kirkstall Bridge Inn.

Despite ongoing construction near the river, preparations were made to secure equipment and materials before the storm. Some building sites were impacted, but efforts are underway to resume work on the scheme, which will enhance protection for homes and businesses.

Councillor Helen Hayden expressed sympathy for those affected by Storm Babet and highlighted the importance of flood alleviation schemes in preparing for severe weather events. She thanked everyone involved in managing the storm’s impact and emphasized the dedication of those working to enhance Leeds’ resilience to extreme weather.

Paolo Sorbello

Paolo Sorbello is a journalist and researcher. He is a PhD candidate at the University of Glasgow, studying state-business relations in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. He is also the Business News Editor of the weekly newspaper The Conway Bulletin.

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