Homes evacuated as floods plunge district into chaos

By Ashley Marshall

TORRENTIAL rainfall and flooding brought chaos to the Wetherby district this week.

Homes and schools were evacuated and roads were closed off as residents were left in turmoil following the wettest June ever recorded.

Constant downpours since Sunday afternoon left many homeowners starting their week waking up to localised flooding. The non-stop rain continued until Monday evening, by which time some parts of the district were already submerged under water.

One of the worst-hit areas was Millbeck Green and Low Croft in Collingham where around 30 homes were flooded and twice as many evacuated as flood waters rose to around five feet.

Louise Birdsall, who has a two-year-old and a ten-month-old child, said the water was relentless.

She said: “The sudden gush of the water was incredible and it came through the airbricks. It was a torrent through the house.

“You can’t put a crawling baby on these floors. Everything is ruined. Their toys, the carpets and even the boiler and washing machine.”

Bardsey, Thorner, Bramham, Clifford and Spofforth were also hit by the relentless deluge.

Bardsey’s notorious flood plains became swamped in a matter of hours in what residents described as the worst floods since 2000, while in Spofforth 15 children had to be evacuated from a pre-school when a neighbouring beck burst its banks for the first time.

Wetherby remained largely unaffected, although the River Wharfe did flood towards homes near the picnic area and bandstand.

In Thorner, parts of Main Street received two feet of standing water and landlord of The Mexbrough Arms Chris Wright said it was the worst he has ever seen.

"It was absolutely crazy. At the bowling green the benches were floating in the middle and I looked into my beer garden to see the tables were half under water.

"Two cars stalled in the floods in Carr Lane and we were up to our knees pushing it out. It is only going to get worse."

Coun Alec Shelbrooke, who was leading the clean-up operation in Collingham, said: “I had heard six weeks of rainfall came in 24 hours. The drain systems just could not cope.

“But the council’s emergency plan went well and I would like to give special praise to the emergency services.”

“I have never seen anything like this and I didn’t think it would be possible.”

Traffic was disrupted as emergency services attended incidents near Wattle Syke in Collingham and next to the former Linton Springs hotel just outside Sicklinghall.

The following hours brought closure to parts of the A58 near Brookside and Keswick Lane in Bardsey, closures of Wetherby’s A1 and re-direction for the 770 Wetherby-Leeds bus route.

Residents affected by the flooding are being offered support and advice on a range of issues following the flooding, particularly environmental health, insurance, social services and housing.

Throughout the county, insurance claims were up by 800 per cent on the numbers expected for the time of year.

Weather forecasters expected a further 10mm or rainfall yesterday night, with between 20mm and 30mm to fall in a 12-hour spell over tomorrow and Sunday.

The Met Office has issued an early warning of severe weather and is also warning residents to expect further flooding in the coming weeks, particularly the middle of next week, July 4-5 and July 10-11.

l For full coverage and pictures, turn to pages 3 and 5.