CAFES, shops, pubs, estate agencies and tourist attractions in York city centre are beginning to get back on their feet after devastating flooding from both the Ouse and the Foss.

However, the speed of recovery varies dramatically from one business to the next, depending on factors including the depth of the floodwaters, the flood resilience of their properties and the helpfulness of their insurance companies.

One month after the floodwaters rose on Boxing Day, Mike Laycock and Rebecca Elmer spoke to a cross-section of businesses to see how they are faring post-flood.

York Press:

THE Tower Vue Cafe in Tower Street re-opened yesterday, just under a month after it was inundated to a depth of about two feet by floodwaters from the Ouse.

Delighted owners Terence and Becky Wensley (Becky is pictured on the right above with Tabi Houldridge) say the clean-up operation was made easier because the building was already flood resilient, with tiled floors and walls rather than wooden floors and plastered walls, which might have had to be replaced and re-plastered.

They said they had replaced items such as chairs but had been able to save other equipment such as the tables, and the full cost of the work was covered by their insurance.

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THE Sitting Pig cafe in Walmgate (which is pictured during the floods above) suffered damage likely to cost more than £30,000 to repair, says owner Radek Bak - but he claims progress with his insurers has been slow.

He said the entire cellar flooded, with more than a metre of floodwater in the ground floor, meaning all his fridges, freezers and stock were destroyed, and he had concerns about keeping on top of rent and other expenses.

“I feel frustrated about the timescale but feel positive about getting back up and running again," he said. "I’ve been building this business for three years and want to trade and not be at home!”

MANAGER Wendy Hudson says she hopes Hambleton Furniture in Walmgate can re-open by Easter, but it depends on how quickly it can be dried out and repaired.

She said tens of thousands of pounds worth of furniture had to be crushed and destroyed, with the premises currently having no heating or electricity.

“I’ve been able to trade over the phone but I've lost a lot of business," she added.

THE Watergate Inn in Walmgate has been closed since the bar was swamped under a metre of floodwater - with a callous thief adding to the distress of landlady Maria Taylor.

She has posted a warning (pictured below) to the gate at the side of the pub after an intruder broke into the yard and rifled through items which had been put out there after the floods. 

York Press:

The Christmas tree is still up in the bar, where little work has been done since the floods, but Maria says repairs to the building will be carried out by her landlord. However, she said she was responsible for contents, which were not covered by flooding insurance, and she would struggle to meet the bills.

STAFF at Letters Property Management in Walmgate have been operating on the first floor of the building since after he ground floor was flooded to a depth of between two and three feet.

Managing director Anya Mathewson, who aims to re-open the ground floor offices by March, says: "It’s as if we’re camping! Staff have been wonderful - it’s very cosy up there and we’ve pulled together.

"You don’t have time to get emotional about it, you just have to knuckle down. There’s been a real community spirit that needs to keep going.”

York Press:

THE Olive Tree restaurant in Tower Street (pictured above) has been closed since it was flooded to a depth of almost two feet, with about four feet of floodwaters in the kitchens at the back.

Manager Zehan Chowdhury said it was originally planned to re-open by Valentine's Day but it was now clear that more time would be needed to dry it out, and he hoped it might be able to re-open by the beginning of March.

THE York Dungeon badly flooded when the River Ouse rose to 5.2 metres above normal summer levels, is still closed until further notice.
General manager Helen Douglas said that during the flood’s peak, the top tourist attraction was well under a metre of water, and so there had inevitably been extensive damage.
“We’re currently working with the clean-up team and our insurers are undertaking assessments to determine the extent of the damage caused," she said. "At present, we’re unable to give an opening date."

York Press:


THE Jorvik Viking Centre, which was badly flooded by water from the River Foss (pictured above), is closed until further notice - potentially for up to a year.

Sarah Maltby, director of attractions at one of York's biggest tourist attractions, said the damage was still being assessed, but the entire exhibition might have to be removed and replaced, including the electrics.

However, school parties who had booked to come to the centre were being catered for in an educational area created at the Central Methodist Church in St Saviourgate, across the road from its sister attraction DIG.


KIOSK Project Space, an art and design studio in Fossgate, has been closed since the floods - and owner Rebecca Carr says she has no idea when she's moving back in because she's been given no timescale. 

"It’s a grade two listed building, so all the panels of wood have to be dried out slowly, otherwise they could crack," she said.

"I’m still doing a bit of trading online, but I haven’t got a studio to work in and a lot of my products are handmade in the studio. I’ve had a load of orders, but I can’t make them.” However, she added that she hoped to find a temporary studio.


York Press:

REPAIRS and refurbishment work are well underway at The Lowther in Cumberland Street, and landlord Shaun Binns (pictured above on December 29) hopes it can re-open in three to four weeks time.

He said the clear-up was considerably quicker than the six months taken when the pub was last badly flooded in 2012, because it was much more resilient, for example by having flagged floors.

He added that the pub had barely been able to trade since the autumn because the Ouse had flooded so often.