FLOOD-HIT business owners claim thousands of pounds of damage could have been avoided had they been given more notice of the Foss Barrier being raised.

Many businesses on the banks of the Ouse began their clean up operation on Tuesday, with falling river levels giving access for the first time to water hit properties.

But those hit by the flooded Foss said damages could have been minimised had they been given more time to prepare.

York Press:

The clean-up at Brew York off Walmgate

As they swept out shops, studios and restaurants, business owners in Fossgate and Walmgate spoke of their shock at the extent and depths of the Foss flood.

Many said they received no warning of the Foss Barrier being raised, with only those who saw water levels rise on Boxing Day able to make preparations.

Sam Holstock, owner of Melrose Yard Studios, a music recording studio off Walmgate, said he wasn't even offered sandbags.

He said: "We stayed over night on Boxing Day. We tried to get everything we could of value up onto a higher level as the water rose up the car park, but had to leave about 4am on the 27th when we had done all we could.

York Press:

Rubbish piled up outside Franklins Yard

"There was a lot of help for businesses in Walmgate, but we were a bit forgotten here, we didn't get any sandbags even though we must have rang the council more than 30 times. All we could do was watch the water come up.

"We came back yesterday and climbed in through a window to assess the damage. The water had got into every room, and was up to a foot deep in the worst areas.

"Although we managed to save a lot of the equipment we've still had up to £10,000 worth damaged.

"I think we'll probably be closed for about a month as we deal with this. We've been here for about seven years, and have never seen anything like it.

"As soon as the Foss Barrier pump was working again all the water was gone, which speaks volumes."

York Press:

The clean-up in Huntington Road

Numerous business were hit in the Enterprise Complex off Walmgate.

Wayne Smith and Lee Grabham, of Brew York, were clearing out the warehouse of their planned microbrewery, having only been in the premises four weeks.

They said: "Obviously when we took on the building we were told about the risk of flooding, but we were told the chances of the Foss Barrier failing were one in 100.

"We didn't think four weeks into a seven year least that we would be facing that one in 100 chance.

"Luckily we have a mezzanine level, so we were in at 8am on Boxing Day moving equipment up out of the way.

"We aren't trading yet as we are just setting up, so we haven't lost anything in terms of business, but it's set us back. We were hoping to be up and running by Easter but that is looking highly unlikely now."

Tuesday was the first day Wendy Hudson, manager at Hambleton Furniture in Walmgate, was able to get into the shop to assess the damage.

She said: "About 90 per cent of everything in the shop has been ruined. It's simply been standing in water too long.

"As soon as they raised the barrier that was it. We've been here for 24 years and we've never even had a damp foot.

"The first time we were able to get in was this morning. Before then we hadn't heard from anyone, not a thing. Someone had put some sandbags at the door, but with that amount of water, it didn't make any difference, the lot of it was flooded.

"I had to stand across the road on Sunday and just look at all the furniture floating in the shop,. We couldn't even get to the door to do anything about it.

"I can't see how it could be any worse if they hadn't lifted the barrier."

In Fossgate interior walls had to be knocked down in properties in Franklins Yard, where the remains of the flooding was yet to drain away from cobbles nearest the river.

York Press:

The Foss Barrier on Tuesday

Jo Walton, owner of Rogues Atelier studio and upholstery business in Franklins Yard, said: "We've had to knock a wall down into the neighbouring studio as it was just too sodden, and wasn't stable.

"The water was up to thigh height. It's the first time we've been able to get in today, before then all we could was come down and check the water levels from a distance.

"We didn't have any warning from anyone that this was going to happen.

"We've had lots of friends in today helping with the clear out, but I don't think I'll be ready to work again for another few weeks.

"We haven't had any official help. If we'd had more warning, and knew the consequences of the barrier being lifted, there was more we could have done to protect the property and business."

Phil O'Dea, owner of MOR Music, said: "We came down to save what we could, but there comes a point where you have to say what will be will be.

"Everything has been left polluted, even the stuff we lifted out of the way of the water, because its sat in the same room for such a long time, even though it's not wet, it's still ruined.

"We've probably lost about £50,000 worth of stock, and with the damage to the building we're looking at costs of around £100,000 in total.

"At least it wasn't our home though. We've got to be quite pragmatic, and it's the people who have lost their homes that I feel for, we can rebuild a business."