HOUSEHOLDERS affected by the flooding that hit York in September got the chance to question council and environment officials during a heated public meeting.
Heavy autumnal rain two months ago led to some of the worst floods in a decade, with York recording its third-highest river levels.
Dozens of homes and businesses were devastated in the wake of the chaos.
The severe flooding led York Central MP Hugh Bayley to set up the public meeting at the Novotel in Fishergate on Saturday morning.
He said: “Following the flooding in September I thought it would be useful to get people affected to speak to the people who are responsible for maintaining flood defences during a crisis and before times of crisis.”
About 50 people gathered for the meeting as residents affected by floods and those concerned about the environmental impact on York tabled questions to leading figures responsible for tackling the issue.
They included City of York Council leader James Alexander, Innes Thompson, area flood risk manager for the Environment Agency, Martin Parkes, manager of asset planning at Yorkshire Water, and Sally Burns, responsible for emergency planning for the City of York Council.
Residents raised concerns about the long-term impact on building on out-of-town green belt sites, rather than brownfield sites, as well as sandbag shortages, and the issues of building on flood plains and drainage.
Responding to questions about Leeman Road flood defences, Coun Alexander said money earmarked had risen to £1.4million while Mr Thompson promised residents that workers “will be on the ground in early 2013” to install defences.
One resident of Grange Garth complained to the council that during the September floods she and her family had felt abandoned and isolated from help and suggested residents living in flood-risk properties should have a wallet-sized card detailing emergency and helpful contacts to call.
Another resident complained that during the floods, he was fobbed off and told to buy his own sandbags.
Ms Burns said that often during flooding “everybody starts to panic”, but resources needed to be preserved and issued to those most at risk. However Coun Alexander said the council was now looking at buying special sandbags that expand when hit by water –meaning fewer of them would be needed.
Responding to residents’ problems about insuring flood-risk properties, Mr Thompson recommended those affected should contact the National Flood Forum, a non-profit organisation that helps give advice to people struggling to pay high insurance costs.
Mr Bayley said any residents with further concerns could email him directly.