Hotels and bed and breakfasts could be used to launch a “Covid safe” evacuation plan – as York faces a serious flood threat in the next two days.
Letters are being sent to residents whose homes are at risk of flooding, including people who are shielding and may need to be evacuated.
Non-stop heavy rain is forecast to last until Thursday and river levels are expected to rise significantly – with levels due to rise above 4m later this week.
City of York Council is preparing to tackle the challenges of flooding during a pandemic – when residents may need to evacuate their homes while they are shielding or self-isolating.
People who have an appointment to receive the vaccine or a coronavirus test are also encouraged to check their route before travelling in case the weather causes disruption on the roads.
The council is urging people not to travel through floodwater to reach a test or vaccine site and instead rebook their appointment if they cannot get there safely.
Sandbags and closures
Sandbag barriers are being created at Clementhorpe, Tower Gardens and Tower Street with a pump installed to clear water.
Flood boards have been installed at Peckitt Street.
St George’s Field and Esplanade car parks, and Rowntree Park are closed.
Flood pumps and defences will be put in at the Fordlands Road and A19 area in Fulford from today, Wednesday.
Any homes at risk of immediate flooding will be provided with sandbags.
A council spokesperson said hotels and bed and breakfasts will be used for evacuation rather than rest centres to ensure residents are in Covid-safe accommodation if needed.
And food and medicine deliveries to vulnerable people will continue thanks to the council’s team of volunteers.
Freezing weather back
Temperatures below zero are also expected on Thursday evening so frontline services, including the gritting teams, are expected to be very busy.
Councillor Paula Widdowson said: “The last 12 months have been incredibly difficult for many people and with river levels rising, we want to reassure residents that we’re doing everything we can to protect our city, as well as provide support and advice at this time.
“Our frontline teams have been deployed and flood defences are in place to help protect the city. We are expecting river levels to rise fast because of melting snow and heavy rain, so whilst there’s uncertainty on how high levels will be, we know from the EA early forecasts, that it’s indicating potential levels over 4m later this week.
“We’re immediately putting in place the local and citywide flood defences ahead of time.
“We’ll provide sandbags to communities at immediate risk of flooding – so you don’t need to contact us.”
“We’re also asking for you to please check on your neighbours and friends, in a Covid safe way.
“We are contacting vulnerable and shielding residents in affected areas, to ensure they are aware of the support and services available to them.
“We ask that all residents take care, whilst on essential journeys and daily exercise, to avoid flooded area such as riverside paths and cycle ways.”