IT has been almost one year since Northwich was battered by Storm Christoph – and residents are concerned the town isn't any better prepared to handle heavy rain.

On January 20, 2021, large parts of the town centre flooded, leaving residents needing to be evacuated and wreaking havoc on businesses.

Northwich had previously flooded in 2019 and a Flood Risk Action Group (FRAG) was set up by Cheshire West and Chester Council last year to deliver recommendations following the release of a report into those floods.

This was 16 months after the incident – and after Storm Christoph had already hit the community with more flooding.

A year on, residents have been reflecting on whether the town will handle any extreme weather this winter.

Simon Faulkner, 50, said: "My reaction to the floods was that they were unusual as I hadn’t seen anything like that happen in years.

"But I kind of expected it because of all the houses built along the river, blocking all the flood plains.

"I’m not sure if the town will be better prepared if it happens again as I’m not sure if they’ve done anything.

"The flood defences seemed to work alright but the drains were the problem and I’m not sure if anything has changed to fix that."

Anne Jones, 52, added: "I wasn’t surprised when the town flooded as it has happened before, but not on the same level that it did last year.

"Even with the flood defences, the drains couldn’t cope and seemed to cause a large amount of the flooding."

Allison Reid, 34, spoke about how Witton Church Walk CE Primary School was deluged by flood water last January, forcing it to close.

She said: "The children had already missed so much due to the pandemic and then this happened, it seemed so unfair for them.

"Hopefully the town will be better prepared if it floods again, but it seems the flood defences, which cost so much but only do part of the job, cover the bigger problem which is the old drainage system that is older than me and so many people I know."

The £7m Northwich flood risk management scheme, which reduces the flood risk to around 400 homes and businesses, was put to the test in November ahead of winter.

Since its launch in June 2018, the Environment Agency said it had been tested and maintained on a regular basis.

Ollie Hope, Environment Agency flood and coastal risk manager for Cheshire and Merseyside said: "We hope the £7m Northwich flood risk management scheme won’t be needed this winter but our teams are well-prepared for whatever the elements may have in store.

"I hope such emergency response plans will give reassurance to residents in Northwich but, it is important to remember that we can never fully protect against flooding."

Councillor Karen Shore, deputy leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council and cabinet member for environment, highways and strategic transport, said: "Northwich and many areas of our borough suffered badly from flooding last winter and we want to ensure these events are not repeated.

"We have been working with partners including the Environment Agency throughout the year to prevent a repeat of further flooding damage occurring to homes and businesses."