Nerve-wracking 48 hours ahead for communities hit by deluge

Cliffords Tower, one of York's famous ancient attractions is reflected in floodwater which this morning filled surrounding City Centre roads.
Cliffords Tower, one of York's famous ancient attractions is reflected in floodwater which this morning filled surrounding City Centre roads.
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HUNDREDS of homes and businesses in Yorkshire have been left swamped with flood water as the worst September storm the UK has seen for 30 years left a trail of devastation in its wake.

While residents and workers in some areas begin to mop up, the region’s farmers have also been left counting the cost of the latest downpours, which they fear could set them up for a second year of misery as they struggle to recover from the washout summer’s impact on their harvests.

York City centre cafe staff remove perishable items from their premises in deep floodwater.

York City centre cafe staff remove perishable items from their premises in deep floodwater.

North Yorkshire has been the worst-hit part of the county, with around 300 properties flooded.

Some 100 of these were in York, where the River Ouse peaked at more than five metres above normal yesterday – the second highest level ever recorded.

Levels are expected to remain high for the next 24 to 48 hours, with 17 flood warnings in place for York and its environs last night, although city officials are optimistic its flood defences will hold.

Residents in many areas, however, were holding their breath as the historic floodwaters lapped at their doorsteps and caused drains to back up.

Fire Brigade crews take care staff to a residential home in Skeldergate by boat as floodwater continues to cover many city centre streets in York.

Fire Brigade crews take care staff to a residential home in Skeldergate by boat as floodwater continues to cover many city centre streets in York.

Soldiers were deployed in the village of Cawood yesterday as residents and authorities scrambled to hold back the rising Ouse with a sandbagging operation, with similar efforts being undertaken to bolster defences in Ousegate, Selby.

In the city centre, the York Dungeon and Grand Opera House were among the latest businesses to fall victim to the river flooding.

A number of people have 
also had to be rescued in the York area, including a man in a camper van which had to be winched out of deep water in the village of Acaster Malbis on Wednesday night.

Yesterday morning, crews in Skeldergate used a boat to ferry carers into a nursing home to give medication to elderly residents and firefighters were called to a caravan park in Bishopthorpe to reports of people stranded.

In Tadcaster, a free shuttle bus service has been laid on to link the two sides of the divided town after the bridge carrying the A659 over the Wharfe was closed owing to dangerously high river levels.

A northbound section of the A1 in the Catterick area finally reopened yesterday afternoon although a number of other roads remained closed overnight and will be reviewed today.

Waterlogged fields across the region have meant farmers who would normally be planting seeds for next year’s harvest have had to put the work on hold, sparking fears of low yields and higher prices.

Paul Temple, a beef and arable farmer near Driffield and former National Farmers’ Union vice-president, said: “The concern is we have already had a very disappointing harvest and are now facing difficulties establishing crops for next year. At this point we would be drilling for wheat and barley, oil seed rape should have done three weeks ago but it too is late.”

Julian Thirsk, a Selby farmer and consultant at the National Institute of Agricultural Botany, said the latest rain could be “the final nail in the coffin” for some producers.

“I myself have lost 60 acres of oil seed rape. Some of the farmers around here have lost 60 acres of potatoes,” he said.

A couple found dead by a swollen river may have drowned trying to rescue their dog, police said. The bodies of Alicia Williams and David Platt, both 25, were discovered by the River Clywedog, near Wrexham, Wales, on Wednesday night.