Yorkshire keeps calm and carries on as flooding causes devastation and disruption

Office workers are evacuated from their premises in York city centre as floodwater rises in York as the River Ouse continues to rise today
Office workers are evacuated from their premises in York city centre as floodwater rises in York as the River Ouse continues to rise today
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THE waters kept on rising, leaving some communities divided in two as all residents could do was watch and hope.

Aerial shots of York showed the extent of the flooding yesterday as some bridges in parts of North Yorkshire had to be sealed off, preventing vehicles from getting from one side of towns or villages to another without taking long detours.

An aerial view showing cars travelling along the A64 Scarborough to Leeds road as it passes over flood water from the River Ouse in York.

An aerial view showing cars travelling along the A64 Scarborough to Leeds road as it passes over flood water from the River Ouse in York.

Homes and businesses were deluged with waters, vehicles struggled to negotiate waterlogged roads and people used pumps to try to keep the rising waters at bay.

In Tadcaster, the bridge carrying the A659 over the River Wharfe was closed as engineers made checks.

Another North Yorkshire town, Boroughbridge, was also divided yesterday when its bridge over the River Ure had to be closed because of the flooding.

Picturesque Gilling West, near Richmond, was still cut in two by a lake of muddy brown floodwater.

A riverside caravan park in Knaresborough following flooding from the River Nidd in the town.

A riverside caravan park in Knaresborough following flooding from the River Nidd in the town.

Firefighters had to rescue 25 residents from riverside homes in Boroughbridge as they dealt with several incidents near Thirsk.

People living near the River Ouse around York and Selby were bracing themselves as water levels continued to rise.

The Environment Agency said those stretches of river were particularly vulnerable as the huge amount of rain which had fallen over the Yorkshire Dales in the past two days worked its way through the system.

Fields on the outskirts of York were swamped with water and York Council said the River Ouse had flooded riverside car parks, footpaths and roads.

A resident of Knaresborough wades through water following flooding from the River Nidd in the town.

A resident of Knaresborough wades through water following flooding from the River Nidd in the town.

A spokeswoman for York Council said the river was 15.2ft (4.63m) above the average summer level yesterday. But she said the Ouse reached 17.7ft (5.4m) above the average in the floods of 2000.

She added: “So York is very much open for business and all agencies have sufficient resources in place.”

At The Lowther in Cumberland Street, waters were in entrances and pumps were in use.

Jamie-Leigh Binns, from the pub, said: “Its really bad. I do not believe it’s as bad as it was in 2000 but its the worst that I have seen it in ten years.”

The A1 near Catterick and the A66 near Darlington remained closed yesterday.

Train services were still subject to severe disruptions and delays throughout northern England and Wales as a result of the flooding and landslides.

In many places yesterday, people could do little more than watch – and hope that the waters would begin to recede quickly.

Tadcaster Mayor Steve Cobb said the River Wharfe there was the highest he had seen it since devastating floods hit the North Yorkshire town in 2000. Firefighters later said the situation appeared to be improving.

“We’re one community but we are split in two today,” Mr Cobb said.

“We are totally dependent on the bridge. It’s a four or five mile trip around without it, just to get to the other side.”

North Yorkshire County Council said the bridge had been closed as a precaution after firefighters noticed water seeping through the structure.

The deluges have swamped homes, closed schools, caused disruption and forced the cancellation of events with Saturday’s meeting at Ripon racecourse unable to go ahead.

On one route into Otley, drivers had to avoid a swamped stranded car.

Staff working at the North Yorkshire Police headquarters, on the outskirts of Northallerton, were told to report to the nearest police station or work from home after roads in the area were flooded overnight. The building is not used for operational purposes.

Flooding has affected large parts of Northern England. On Tuesday Morpeth was flooded and parts of North Yorkshire, including Richmondshire and Hambleton, were badly hit by rising rivers.

Yesterday police revealed looters had struck a flood-hit shop and stolen bicycles worth tens of thousands of pounds.

The thieves broke into KB Cycles in Newburn, Newcastle, near the modern block of townhouses that was evacuated amid fears it could collapse after torrents of water washed material away from its foundations.

In Gilling West, retired postman Freddie Wilson, 72, surveyed the damage. “It was like a river flowing down the road when it happened. It came so suddenly it was if someone had opened a floodgate. The village is devastated. Whatever defences they have put up do not seem to be working.”

Hebden Bridge, which was flooded twice this summer, escaped further damage with the Environment Agency saying the river levels appeared to have peaked.

Tourism leaders have maintained that York’s major attractions remain open despite the city being swamped by flood waters.

Senior officials from the tourism partnership, Visit York, stressed that the city’s tourist attractions, bars and restaurants remain open, apart from a handful of riverside premises.

The chief executive of Visit York, Gillian Cruddas, said: “We would like to reassure all those planning to visit York in the coming days, that the city is fully open for business. In fact, today is a beautiful sunny autumn day in York, showcasing the city at its finest.”

The organisers of the York Food Festival were also keen to highlight that the 10-day event is continuing. They have received a series of inquiries to check whether the festival, which began on Friday last week and will come to a close on Sunday, has had to be cancelled because of the extensive flooding.

The festival’s director, Michael Hjort, who runs the Meltons and Meltons Too restaurants in the city, confirmed that the event, which is centred on Parliament Street in the centre of York, remains unaffected by the flood waters.

Today’s programme includes the Yorkshire Post Readers Award, a free showcase of regional produce which is being held on St Sampson’s Square between 5pm and 7.30pm.