EFFORTS to help rural communities left devastated after a month’s rain fell in four hours have been heralded.

Despite atrocious weather conditions following flash flooding in Wensleydale, Swaledale and Arkengarthdale at the end of July, work to get the area’s residents back on their feet has progressed at a remarkable rate, North Yorkshire County Council leader Councillor Carl Les said.

Following visits to the area, Cllr Les said he had been delighted by the concerted response to what the Environment Agency had concluded was an unprecedented rain event.

He told the council’s executive: “The devastation had to be seen to be believed. It was just like a battlefield. Buildings and stock washed away, bales of sileage floating down becks. We heard descriptions of vehicles floating down the road. Fortunately it was very localised, but it being localised means absolutely nothing if it is your property that’s been flooded out.”

He said while communities such as those in Arkengarthdale and Swaledale could have been left facing lengthy diversions, the council’s highways team had put in place temporary measures to rapidly reopen roads.

Cllr Les said: “When you have a disaster like this it usually takes months if not years to put right. We had three road failures in Swaledale. If you have a road diversion in the Dales the impact can be 35 miles and the impact that has on people’s normal lives, but also on their emergency services which they already feel a long way away from.

“Those road failures are going to be put right within days and that’s a great credit to the highways team.”

He also highlighted how the council had helped with relief work in local communities, working alongside Richmondshire District Council to set up a rest centre after the severity of the deluge became clear. Cllr Les emphasised the work of the council’s Major Incident Response Team and Ready for Anything volunteers, who helped with the clean-up.

He said: “In my opinion North Yorkshire County Council staff worked absolutely brilliantly. They worked with volunteers and other bodies, such as Richmondshire District Council, the Environment Agency and even the Army and the communities. The communities were absolutely fantastic in how resilient they were.”