York & North Yorkshire

Clean-up starts after North Yorkshire flooding

Clean-up operations are under way in North Yorkshire after the county's flood defences were tested to the limit by rising rivers.

In York properties flooded when the Ouse reached a near-record level of 5.07m (16ft 8ins) on Thursday morning.

Thousands of sandbags were deployed by the army and local authorities and rescuers helped stranded residents.

A 40-mile stretch of the A1 northbound, closed after it was flooded on Tuesday, has reopened. One lane remains closed.

The Highways Agency said water was still being pumped from the other lane.

Yorkshire Water said the level of the River Ouse in York had stabilised and levels were expected to fall steadily over the next few days.

The highest river level recorded at that location is 5.4m (17ft 9ins) in 2000, and flood defences in the city are 5.5m (18ft) high.

The Leeman Road area of York was badly affected after the sewer system was overloaded and water flowed out of the drains.

The city council's Labour leader said some of the problems could have been avoided if a £3.2m flood defence scheme had not been delayed until later this year.

James Alexander said: "The previous government gave the money [for the defences] and the new government withdrew it, saying that the council had to put in some additional money.

"We put in that additional money, and the latest I heard was that the Environment Agency were trying to use it for other areas outside of York... this wrangling means that the flood defences are not here and this has been going on for years."

'Sigh of relief'

Kelly Bailey, landlady of The Jubilee pub in Leeman Road, said the drains had flooded her cellar.

She said: "It's not far off touching the ceiling right now, it's very deep.

"I'm not going to be able to get in there for at least a day to get to any of my beer barrels, it's going to be quite expensive.

"It's just happened so quickly and it's so drastic."

Matt Thompson, from Yorkshire Water, said: "We're seeing river water getting into our sewer network and overloading it, which is causing it to surcharge at Leeman Road and Jubilee Street."

He said a "massive effort" was under way with engineers working alongside the fire service to pump out water and reduce the pressure on the network.

The Environment Agency said the situation appeared to be stable as the river level had peaked on Thursday morning.

Craig McGarvey, from the agency in York, said: "It's a big sigh of relief. A lot of people have been working through the night to protect their own properties.

"Unfortunately some people have been flooded and our sympathies are with them."

Town divided

The agency said it was "operating around the clock" to clear watercourses, monitor river levels, and provide pumping equipment.

It advised people across North Yorkshire to "remain vigilant" as rivers peaked across the county.

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said it had attended more than 300 incidents in less than 24 hours.

On Thursday morning, crews used a boat to transport carers to a care home on Skeldergate in York, so they could get medicine to the patients inside.

In Bishopthorpe, a village near York, the fire service set up an escape route for residents stranded in a flooded caravan park on Ferry Lane.

In the village of Cawood, 8m-high (26ft) defences just managed to hold back the River Ouse after the Army bolstered them with 4,000 sandbags.

Tadcaster was still divided in two on Thursday, as inspection work continued on a bridge in the town.

The bridge, which carries the A659 over the River Wharfe, was closed when firefighters noticed water seeping through the structure on Wednesday.

A North Yorkshire County Council spokesperson said water levels had to fall in order for a "proper structural inspection" of the bridge to take place.

In the meantime the council is providing a free shuttle bus service to link the two sides of the town.

The transport network across North Yorkshire has been badly affected by flooding, with dozens of road closures across the county.

Police urged drivers to take "extreme care" on the roads.

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