York floods, day 3: David Cameron visits city, phones & broadband down, waters peak, more rain forecast

28 Dec 2015 @ 2.31 pm
| News

David Cameron visited flood hit York on Monday (December 28) as the waters claimed large parts of the city’s infrastructure.

The Prime Minister was given a briefing as to how the city was coping at Silver Command, the flooding HQ at Fulford Road police station.

Hundreds of homes have been evacuated as the waters from the Foss and Ouse inundated properties in the worst floods in recent times. The waters peaked on Monday morning.

A Chinook helicopter hovers above Castle Mills Bridge in York as he delivers parts to repair the Foss barrier which failed causing widespread flooding in the city.Pic : Nigel Holland
A Chinook helicopter hovers above Castle Mills Bridge in York as he delivers parts to repair the Foss barrier which failed causing widespread flooding in the city.Pic : Nigel Holland

Cash machines went down and many shops were only able to take cash transactions.

Many phone lines are down and broadband is out for large parts of the city. The BT exchange on Stonebow was flooded.

The emergency services have been affected. A police spokeswoman said:

We are currently experiencing technical difficulties receiving 101 calls, due to weather-related issues affecting the Exchange building.

If your call is urgent, please contact us on 999, which is not affected.

If your call is not urgent, a temporary number has been set up to deal with your call which 101 is being attended to. In non-emergency situations please dial 01609 768 182.

And City of York Council has a temporary phone number and email: 07500 100398 and [email protected].

BT said their engineers were working as quickly as they could to restore power to the building and get services up and running again.

BT engineers working to restore communications in York
Replacement equipment arriving for BT in Stonebow

A spokesman said:

The York BT exchange has been damaged by flood water and Openreach engineers are currently repairing damage to the building’s power supply.

Our engineers are working flat out to restore services as soon as possible and we’re sorry for the inconvenience caused.

Rain returning

The waters in York have peaked and are now receding.

But more rain is on its way on Tuesday, with the Met Office issuing a yellow alert for rain on Wednesday:

Rain, heavy at times and often prolonged, will affect many parts of western and northern Britain during Wednesday. Rain will be heaviest and most persistent over higher ground.

Please be aware of the potential for moderate levels of disruption in places from both surface water and river flooding.

At the Foss Barrier work was underway to replace the broken pump which caused the flood protection failure.

The Foss barrier set in the open position
The Foss barrier set in the open position
A Chinook helicopter lowers equipment into the Foss barrier. Photo: Richard McDougall

An Army Chinook helicopter was dropping in the new parts to a team of engineers who were working in flooded rooms.

‘We’ve spent a lot on defences’

During his York visit David Cameron met military personnel to thank them for helping in the flood efforts. He also met and thanked City of York Council staff and volunteers filling sandbags at Hazel Court Recycling Centre.

While in the city he defended his government’s record on flood defences. He told Sky that the budget was rising and now stands at £2.3bn.

“We’ve spent a lot of flood defences and we’re going to spend a lot more,” he said.

After a lot of criticism that London and the south was better protected than the north, he said £100m is being spent in Yorkshire and another £280m will be spent.

The PM added: “Let’s have a look and see what more needs to be done.”

More than 600 soldiers have been assisting North Yorkshire Police in the flood operations.

The troops have also helped the police, firefighters and search and rescue team members to check hundreds of homes and provide reassurance to concerned residents.

This effort is continued on Monday with the priority “re-visiting the most vulnerable people and properties and outlying rural communities” said a spokesperson.

They added: “However, with between 20mm and 40mm of rain forecasted on Wednesday, it is likely the emergency flood response and public safety measures will remain in place as we head into the weekend.”

Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick, of North Yorkshire Police, said:

The emergency services and our partner agencies, including the army, have done a tremendous job in responding to the devastation caused by the floods.

250 people were evacuated from their homes and 115 were placed in rest centres overnight. Of these there are currently 20 people in the rest centre in York.

The top priority of everyone concerned is to keep people safe from harm.

To achieve this, we are re-visiting the most vulnerable people and properties to provide advice and reassurance.

With support from the army search and rescue volunteers, many of whom have travelled as far afield as Devon and Cornwall to assist, we are also focusing our attention on the many rural communities around the York and Selby areas to ensure assistance is provided where it is needed.

The police asked the public to heed safety notices, particularly on bridges in the York, Tadcaster, Boroughbridge and Malton area.

DCC Madgwick added:

Just because the water levels are going down it does not mean that the bridges are safe to cross.

It is vitally important that people are sensible and take heed of the closure signs, otherwise they are putting themselves and others in great danger.

The routes will only be re-opened to the public once a full inspection has been carried out.

Roads still closed

Here are the York roads still closed to traffic:

A19 Fulford Rd/Selby Rd
Fordlands Road
Foss Islands Road
James Street
Tower Street
Bishopthorpe Road (Crematorium)
Huntington Road (Monkgate to Haleys Terrace)
Bad Bargain Lane
St Denys’ Road
Peasholme Green
Hempland Lane/Junction Burnholme Drive
Navigation Road
Fordlands Road

Roads now open

These roads have reopened today – information from York Council:

Haxby Road is now clear through to the city centre.
Huntington Road is clear between A1237 and the Link Road. Closed in bound of this – Haleys Terrace to Monkgate.
Heworth Green to Monkgate route is clear in both directions at Monkgate roundabout (Flood water on outbound side but passable) Foss Bank and Layerthorpe/Foss Islands Rd. Junction is closed.
A19 Clifton Green Water End and Water Lane clear.
Fishergate gyratory is open.
Monks Cross Link

Community rallies round

Bell Farm Social Hall in Roche Avenue opened for people to donate items for those affected by the flooding.

City of York Council say they have had a great response to their appeal for volunteers for sandbags, and don’t need any more.