York floods: Hopeful signs as the Foss peaks and the Ouse defences look set to hold

21 Jan 2021 @ 12.49 pm
| News

There are hopeful signs that York may have seen the worst of this flooding episode.

Both the Rivers Foss and Ouse are now in flood.

Gardens and outbuildings in the upper Foss basin, particularly around Strensall, have been inundated. But there have been no reports of water in people’s homes.

And the river is believed to be peaking about now, at 2.67m.

Meanwhile, the temporary flood defences put in to keep the Ouse at bay look set to hold. The peak is forecast to be 4.76m at 3am tomorrow, below the level that would cause major problems.

At a City of York Council media briefing this morning, Cllr Paula Widdowson, executive member for environment and climate change, praised the council team’s “effort, work, consistency, professionalism of our response.

“We know how to work a flood now. We know what to put in place. Unfortunately, we’re very well practised at it. And it’s working like clockwork, they have done a fantastic job.”

What’s happening: the Foss

The Foss from above around Strensall. Photograph: NYPolice Drones on Twitter

The Environment Agency sent out an alert of potential property flooding from the Foss at 5.21am.

Council staff immediately went out to the area to assess the situation.

The problem centres on the upper Foss basin around Strensall, said Neil Ferris, corporate director of housing, economy and place.

“The flooding is being caused by high levels of rainfall in the upper Foss basin,” he said.

“It’s the intensity of the water in the upper Foss, particularly around Strensall, that has caused that flash flooding in the in the top end of the Foss basin.”

That has affected about 100 properties in the Strensall to Yearsley Baths area.

“That’s principally gardens and outlying buildings, with minimal levels of flooding expected within properties.

“At this point in time, we’re not aware of any in-property flooding, people’s property level defences are working where they’re applicable.”

Sandbags were being delivered to residents who wanted them, Neil said.

And as it has peaked, “we don’t expect any further impacts on the Foss because that rainfall in the upper basin has obviously moved on”.

He added that the £45 million investment into flood defences, including a flood storage area around the Strensall ings, would “reduce the frequency of these events”.

What’s happening: the Ouse

The Ouse at Scarborough Rail Bridge today. Photograph: Richard McDougall

The River Ouse is set to peak in York at 4.67m at about 3am tomorrow. That means the temporary defences now in place are set to comfortably hold the waters.

If it reached 4.8-4.9m Peckitt Street would flood, but it would take levels to reach above 5.2m for significantly more properties to be impacted.

Pumps and sandbags around the A19 at Fulford should keep the road clear of water.

Neil praised the work of the highways teams who have been working in bubbles to deploy sandbags and shore up the defences.