This week, as the fifth anniversary of Storm Desmond approaches, Cumbria County Council is highlighting the vital contribution of local communities, residents, volunteers, partner organisations, the emergency services, council staff, and all individuals involved or affected by the response to Storm Desmond.
On the evening of 5 December 2015, Storm Desmond brought 1.15 trillion litres of rainfall to Cumbria in just 48 hours. Nearly 800 bridges and 300km of highway were significantly damaged or completely destroyed.
The response to this unprecedented event, which affected thousands of families and businesses across the county, included the development of a four-year Infrastructure Recovery Project (IRP), led by the county council.
The IRP included repairs, replacement or restoration of more than 1,200 individual projects, ranging from road patching repairs to full reconstruction of highways, slopes, retaining walls, culverts and bridges. The total of value of these works was approximately £120m.
The recently completed four-year project culminated with the reopening of Pooley Bridge in October, representing a significant milestone in the county’s recovery, and the installation of the UK’s first stainless steel road bridge.
The majority of contracts to complete the huge volume of works were awarded to local firms across the county, including Eric Wright Construction, Story Contracting, Metcalfe Plant Hire, Thomas Armstrong and Mott Macdonald.
Councillor Keith Little, Cabinet Member for Highways and Transport, said: “As we approach the fifth anniversary of Storm Desmond, I’m pleased to say that the county council’s Infrastructure Recovery Programme is now complete. This four-year project included over 1,200 individual schemes to repair and rebuild infrastructure that suffered immense damage in the storm.
“The work our teams have done, side by side with local contractors, has been incredible. It’s not just the scale and quality of what’s been achieved on the ground that’s so impressive, but the work behind the scenes to project manage such a large number of schemes, across a wide area and involving numerous local communities has required real skill and dedication.
“It’s particularly pleasing that local Cumbrian contractors secured the vast majority of contracts to carry out works, keeping money and jobs local and ensuring that Cumbrian people have been the driving force behind the county’s recovery.
“I’d also like to thank the public for their patience – delays and disruption have been unavoidable with so many roads and bridges to repair or rebuild, and we know that causes frustration.
“The strength, passion, and resilience of our local communities across Cumbria has been vital to meeting the challenge of repairing our beautiful county – and making it more resilient to future weather events.”