MAJOR clean-up operations are underway after floods hit Wharfedale.

The area, like much of the rest of the country, was battered by the torrential rain and strong winds of Storm Ciara on Sunday, February 9.

The River Wharfe burst its banks at several points including at Otley, Castley Lane, Ilkley and Addingham as the weather worsened. That led to widespread disruption as a number of roads and bridges became impassable and were closed.

In Otley the low-lying roads near the river, including Billams Hill and Farnley Lane, were shut along with Otley Bridge.

The A660 between Otley and Burley-in-Wharfedale was also flooded as were large parts of Wharfemeadows Park.

In Ilkley, meanwhile, the Denton Road area was the worst hit with the flooding affecting Ilkley Rugby Club and Ilkley Lawn Tennis and Squash Club (which were both surrounded by fields of water) and the Riverside Park, where the play equipment was partially submerged.

And at Addingham fast flowing river water completely covered parts of Ilkley Road.

Riverside residents in Otley, including those on Farnley Lane and Bridge Avenue, endured an anxious wait on Sunday night to see how high the river would rise. It reached a peak of 1.97 metres at 7pm - much higher than normal but not by enough, thankfully, to lead to homes flooding.

Precautions for such an occurrence had been taken with sandbags distributed by volunteers to riverside properties and local councillors were also out helping.

Councillor Sandy Lay, posting on social media on Sunday evening, thanked everyone who had lent a hand. He said: “I just wanted to thank all those involved in efforts today.

“A particular shout out to the Otley Flood Response team who are the best and the best of our community.”

Things had improved by Monday morning by which time most roads had been reopened.

Local flood warnings for the River Wharfe were also all removed, with the Government’s flood warning information service noting for each location that: “This flood warning has been removed as river levels are falling and the risk is reduced.”

The aftermath left riverside parks covered in mud and debris and caused some road damage, including to parts of Denton Road near the Swing Bridge. A number of cars had also been abandoned, including on the A65 Manor Park Bends, by motorists who had tried to get through affected areas before the roads were closed.

Council officers were out on Monday working to put things right, and at Wharfemeadows Park could be seen using a tractor to move some of the detritus.

Otley suffered a similar level of flooding in March, 2019.

A £3.3 million flood defence scheme for the town, which would see a tall bund and flood wall built between Otley Bridge and Newall Mount, is currently being pursued by Leeds City Council.

The Government allocated £2 million towards flood alleviation works after the town flooded badly three times at the end of 2015.