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Flood defences hold fast in York as River Ouse nears its peak
THE worst flooding in 12 years on the River Ouse was expected to peak in York at breakfast time today, with major roads blocked and thousands of acres of farmland deep under water.
Environment Agency chiefs were hoping a range of flood defences would do their job in protecting thousands of homes and businesses along the Ouse and the River Foss, with only riverside properties in locations such as Kings Staith and Tower Place affected by last night.
The agency said the Ouse was expected to peak at 8am today at between 4.7 and 4.9 metres above normal summer levels, having reached 4.56 metres by late afternoon yesterday.
The predicted levels were worse than the 4.47 metres recorded in January 2008 but not as bad as the 5.4 metres recorded in November 2000, when 450 properties across the city were inundated.
“York is very much open for business and all agencies have sufficient resources in place,” said a City of York Council spokeswoman.
Motorists faced huge delays and diversions after flooding from the Ouse forced the closure of several key routes, in particular the A19 at Fulford , the in-bound lane of Tower Street near Clifford’s Tower, Skeldergate and a link road at Monks Cross.
Bus services disrupted included the Number 3 Askham Bar Park & Ride, which was terminating at the railway station on its inbound leg. In addition, the 42 York to Selby Arriva route was operating only between Selby and Cawood because of flooding at Cawood, and passengers from York travelling towards Selby were asked to use route 415.
“Unfortunately the buses are unable to serve Stillingfleet or Naburn at this time and do not expect to until further notice,” said a council spokeswoman.
Huge sandbags were placed at the entrance to Tower Gardens and pumps were used to try to prevent flooding in Tower Street and adjacent properties.
Helen Banks, proprietor of Dickinsons Cafe, said yesterday afternoon the the efforts had proved worthwhile so far, narrowly saving the business from being inundated.
An agency spokeswoman said the Foss Barrier and pumping station had been running on all eight pumps to prevent the River Foss rising.
Huntington Road was flooded by the Foss yesterday, but nearby properties remained just above the floodwaters.
Jonathan Papaglimis, 27, who lives in a bungalow next to the flooded road, said police banged on his door in the middle of the night to warn him the property was in danger of flooding, and council staff arrived later with sandbags. He was prepared to put furniture on bricks if the water came in.
The Environment Agency was recently given planning permission to start work on upgrading flood defences at Water End, strengthening the protection for hundreds of homes in the Leeman Road area.
A spokeswoman dismissed speculation that preparatory work for the scheme had been disrupted by flooding yesterday, after people witnessed trenches being inundated. The spokeswoman said a power company had dug a big trench and set up a compound in Landing Lane where it was working on a power cable.
The RSPCA thanked more than 100 volunteers who responded to an appeal for help evacuating its animal home near the River Ouse in York.
A charity spokeswoman said it put out the appeal yesterday morning, when it feared the home might be inundated by floodwaters. However, by yesterday afternoon, it was optimistic it would get by without the water reaching it.