Environment Agency says storm that hit West Kirby ‘largest in over a decade’

The storm that hit West Kirby last week was “the largest in over a decade,” according to the Environment Agency.

On 9 April, a new £19.7m flood defence in West Kirby was put to the test with waves crashing over the top of the sea wall that runs along South Parade on the town’s waterfront.

The water flooded Coronation Gardens and the café there forcing staff to be carried out by the RNLI. Videos showed water coming over the wall and moving cars in the road.

The flooding then failed to drain away on the road for several hours with photos on social media showing water still stuck behind the sea wall, leading to heavy criticism on social media. Coronation Gardens remained flooded a day later but the café, Tanskeys Bistro, has since reopened fully.

The flooding has prompted questions of Wirral Council as well as the Environment Agency, who funded £13.5m towards the project, with calls for an investigation and compensation following the incident.

This review has now started which is a routine procedure following a significant flood event and may make a number of recommendations.

Despite the criticism, those who live along the seafront who spoke to the LDRS largely said the damage to their properties had been far less than a storm in 2013 that caused significant damage to homes knocking down garden walls and flooding properties. 

A report after the December 2013 storm showed four businesses and eight homes were flooded with “significant damage” to council property in the area and garden walls knocked down.

Recalling the storm of 2013, one woman said, “I remember the waves hitting my windows. Whether the wall made any different to that because they didn’t hit my windows this time because it was an amazing amount of water coming over,” adding, “I am sure there are people that are absolutely devastated but it didn’t seem to be as bad down by the other end.”

It’s understood there have been no reports of damage to homes so far and some even said they took steps in case water did come over the wall. Tanskeys have confirmed to the LDRS that flood barriers were not put out before 9 April because they did not expect the water to come over the wall.

While the storm surge has been described as “relatively modest” by some councillors, an Environment Agency spokesperson, said, “The storm experienced at the coast at West Kirby last week was the largest in over a decade and comparable to a similar storm in December 2013. Our sympathies go to the business owner that experienced flooding and those that had property damaged.

“Although water overtopped the flood walls, the extent of the flooding was far less than it would have been without the new flood defences.

“We are continuing to work with Wirral Council to learn lessons through their formal flood investigation and see if anything more can be done to further reduce flood risk.

“We can never fully protect people from flooding, so it’s important people in flood risk areas understand their risk, sign up to our free flood warnings and stay safe on the coast.”

Image: A flooded South Parade in West Kirby on 9 April. Credit: Ed Barnes

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