A travel agent was trapped for six hours at the weekend as his shop was inundated by river water and sewage amid flooding caused by Storm Ciara.
Benchmark Travel and Tours, which operates from The Travel Centre in West Yorkshire’s Mytholmroyd, was about 5ft under water from the nearby River Calder on Sunday (9 February).
Owner Roger Benn was inside the building trying to gather important possessions when the water started to gush in.
“I was desperately trying to save stuff inside,” Benn told TTG. “It’s a gamble at the time – do you get everything upstairs [and risk becoming trapped] or do you abandon it and leave it?
“[The water] is so fast-flowing, it’s a torrent. You would get swept away in the river if you opened the door. You would have no chance.”
Once the water had risen to the door handle, Benn had to wait upstairs and “just hope”.
Benn had been warned by an automatic system that the river’s water levels were rising, but he was unsure if this would be a false alarm – which can happen up to seven times a month.
Works to build flood walls along the River Calder are under way but are yet to be finished, Benn said.
“Everything the water touched will have to be replaced,” said Benn. “We will have to throw everything away with a flood like this because it’s not just water, it’s the sewage works and everything in between.”
It is too early to estimate how much the complete refurbishment will cost, he said.
This is the second time The Travel Centre has flooded in recent years after the shop was affected by the 2015 Boxing Day floods.
On that occasion, the staff had to work on cardboard boxes during the refurbishment.
Benn estimates he will be able to start trading from Mytholmroyd in a week, and will be operating from another shop in neighbouring Sowerby Bridge in the meantime.
He added: “We are a business. While it is bad for us, we are surrounded by houses. These homes have been flooded and that’s a far bigger tragedy.”
However, there has been an outpouring of support for Benchmark on social media. One commenter said: “Devastated for you all, I’m happy to help in any way I can.”
Storm Ciara caused widespread disruption across the UK over the weekend, with hundreds of flights cancelled amid 90mph gales.