York & North Yorkshire

Tadcaster divided as floods force River Wharfe bridge closure

Bridge over the River Wharfe at Tadcaster. Picture: PA
Image caption The closure of the bridge at Tadcaster has split the town in two

A town has been split in two after flooding forced the closure of a major road bridge.

North Yorkshire County Council said the bridge over the River Wharfe in Tadcaster was shut as a precaution.

Elsewhere, a 40-mile section of the A1(M) in North Yorkshire remains closed after torrential rain flooded the carriageway.

In York, the Environment Agency said it had issued more than 2,000 properties with flood warnings.

The Mayor of Tadcaster, Steve Cobb, said the Wharfe was at its highest level since major floods hit the area in 2000.

He said a number of businesses close to the river had been flooded.

"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.

"We have a doctors on one side, schools on both sides, all sorts of businesses on either side. We've got our fingers crossed. We've got everything crossed."

The county council said engineers were checking the bridge which carries the A659 over the River Wharfe.

A spokeswoman added a full inspection would not be possible until river levels subsided.

'Completely stranded'

In York, the River Ouse has risen by more than 10ft (3m) since Sunday.

Oliver Harmar, from the Environment Agency, said: "We have had unprecedented levels of rainfall which is now feeding its way through the system.

"We have sent warnings to 2,112 properties in York where there is a risk but it is more a risk of flooding in the local area. Our latest forecasts is showing that levels will only exceed riverside footpaths and a small band of riverside properties."

Image caption A 40-mile stretch of the A1 remains closed after the carriageway was flooded

Linda and her husband, Michael, have been stranded on their boat in the middle of the Ouse at York.

She said: "We managed to get to the York Boat pontoon yesterday and moor up. We are completely stranded and can't get off the boat. Hopefully the river will peak today but it will take a few days to drop and we don't really know what to expect.

"The boat is our home so I wouldn't want to leave though."

The bridge over the River Ure in the centre of Boroughbridge has also been shut.

Flooding near Northallerton caused problems for rail services, with East Coast trains running a limited service between York and Newcastle.

'Tired and cranky'

On Tuesday, the emergency services diverted more than a 100 vehicles trapped on the A1 to the A19.

York tourism agency, Visit York, said it had been assisting tourists stuck in York due to transport problems.

Shelley Taylor and Phil Rob from Canada were due to travel to Edinburgh.

Ms Taylor said: "Our train got cancelled so we came to Visit York. We were going to take a bus to Newcastle and hope to get a train from there but that wasn't a sure thing so now we are staying in lovely York.

"I was cold, tired and cranky. It has been a bit stressful."

North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said it had to call in extra help to deal with the hundreds of call it received.

A spokesman said: "Due to this large number of calls we requested support from neighbouring services including Cleveland, Lancashire and Cumbria."

Boat sank

More than 20 people were rescued or assisted from cars stuck in flood water.

The service said dozens of cars stranded in flood water had had to be moved to safe areas.

An ambulance carrying a patient slipped off the road near Langton Hall in Northallerton on Tuesday, and a fire engine was used to transfer the patient to a safe point.

In York, the fire service was unable to save a narrow boat, which sank on the River Ouse.

Yorkshire Water said it had mounted a "massive" operation, working with other agencies to reduce the risk of flooding.

The company said it had contacted vulnerable customers and arranged for sandbags to be made available where appropriate.

Heavy downpours across England have resulted in homes being evacuated, disruption to train services and school closures while many roads have been closed as a result of flooding.

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