Ending 2015: Flooding and Community

As 2015 comes to an end, my city faces the aftermath of one of the largest floods in recorded history.

As you may have seen, great swathes of Northern England has been hit by unprecedented levels of flooding over the Christmas period.

One of the worst affected areas has undoubtedly been my home city, York, which sits on the confluence of two rivers - the Foss and the Ouse. 

Minor flooding is a common occurrence in the city, with some areas experiencing some form of flooding at least once a year, if not more. 

However in the past few days, the river has reached new heights, with levels surpassing all historical records at 5.2m. This has resulted in over 500 people having to be evacuated from their homes, many of which have been significantly damaged by rising waters.

I am extremely lucky that whilst the end of my road was flooded, our house is situated a fair distance away from the river and up a reasonable hill.

I can therefore only imagine the shock and distress that all recent flood victims, including those affected by Storm Desmond before Christmas, are now going through.

Many businesses have also been affected, with damaged premises and lost stock. The recovery effort is going to be slow and expensive, potentially costing the local economy millions in lost revenue. 

Residents in York are trying to clean up, while simultaneously bracing for more extreme weather from Storm Frank, which is hitting the city as I write this post. I am crossing every finger that the damage from this second storm is kept to the minimum.

There has however been one positive aspect to the past few days of devastation.

The show of solidarity and community spirit shown by residents and those further afield has been incredible.

Residents have donated their time, their vehicles, emergency supplies and even spare rooms to help those affected. This demonstration of co-operation and charitable spirit has been incredibly humbling, especially in an age where it is easy to feel disassociated with your local community.

Thanks must also be given to all the non-profit groups, emergency and rescue services, government staff and military troops, all of whom have all helped keep people safe and in the loop with developments as the situation continues.

Help has also come from across the UK, with many people sending much needed cleaning supplies and other donations. 

The recovery and rebuilding effort is going to take several months, however the signs of hope are there. If we can continue to pull together and help support everyone affected, the city will recover. 

There have been some unconfirmed reports on social media of people cancelling hotel bookings/trips in February and beyond. This is undoubtedly the last thing that York needs!

Once the authorities deem it safe, please come and see our beautiful and historic city. Our wonderful local businesses and unique tourist attractions need your support now more than ever!

Below are several photos I took on the 28th December in the city centre, hopefully giving you some idea of how extensive the flooding has been.


Hundreds of homes have been evacuated in the city, this picture shows the rescue crews helping people leave their homes safely down Skeldergate, located right in the centre of the city.

York Floods 2015

Despite the failure of the Foss barrier, many of the flood defenses in the city proved to work well, including this barrier down by Lendal Bridge.  You can see the great expanse of water being held back beyond!

York Floods 2015

Sandbags down by the River Ouse helped to contain some of the flooding in the city centre. However this small park by the river edge is now underwater!

York Floods 2015

Normally these steps lead to a cobbled area down by the riverside, people even park here under normal conditions!

York Floods 2015

The Kings Arms, pictured in the centre, is used to regular flooding each year. However I have never seen the waters rise so high...

York Floods 2015

A view of the River Ouse, looking down towards Bishopgate St Bridge. 

York Floods 2015

The small team of volunteers which amassed to help out the flooded Tang Hall Community Centre. We managed to rip out most of the affected carpets and generally clean up after the flood waters made it into the building!