Agencies work to protect York and Selby communities from flooding

This story was published 17 February 2020

City of York Council is continuing to work with partner agencies around the clock to ensure homes and businesses are protected from flooding.

Work to keep communities safe from Storm Dennis in York

As part of the York and North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum (NYLRF), the city council, is working with the police and fire services as well as North Yorkshire County Council, the Met Office and Environment agency to help prepare in the event of flooding and to reassure the public that action is being taken.

Deputy Chief Constable Phil Cain, NRLRF’s strategic lead, said: “We have a strong track record of working together to make sure we understand the risks in real time and take dynamic action to plan ahead. Storm Dennis is another good example of how by partnership working we can be as prepared as possible.

“Today’s focus has been on continuing to plan for potential flooding in York and to get a clearer understanding of what the picture will be in Selby so we can deploy any necessary resources there if required.

“Flood water on highways and from rising rivers continues to be a risk and I would like to reiterate the warning for motorists not to drive into water or to remove road closed signage. We also have some potentially icy surfaces on some roads as temperatures drop so please drive according to local conditions.”

In terms of York - The Environment Agency (EA) has confirmed levels on the river Ouse are set to peak on Tuesday afternoon [18 February] with current forecasts showing a potential river level of up to 4.8 metres.

These forecast levels may continue to change as the impact of overnight rain makes its way into water channels. To stay up-to-date with the latest forecast and river level predication, visit:

An Environment Agency spokesperson said: “The River Ouse runs through a rural catchment that responds to heavy rainfall from the Pennines and can therefore be slower to react.

“River levels responded following Storm Ciara on Sunday 9 February and flood warnings were subsequently issued. Some of these warnings remained in place through the following week while some were downgraded.

“Currently as a result of Storm Dennis, we have six Flood Warnings (as at 1730hrs), but more will be issued this evening and into tomorrow as levels continue to rise.

“Our forecasts are currently showing the River Ouse in York will reach 4.8m on the morning of Tuesday 17 February and is likely to remain at, or around this level for a couple of days afterwards. At this level, we expect there may be further properties flooded in York.

“Further downstream of York, the tidal Ouse in Selby is forecast to reach 5.2m during Monday morning’s high tide. Levels will remain similar during subsequent high tides on Monday evening through to Tuesday evening. At Cawood, the tidal Ouse is estimated to reach 7.6m during Monday morning’s high tide and again is expected to remain at a similar level through subsequent high tides until Tuesday evening.

“We are not expecting properties in Selby and Cawood to flood, but we do expect flooding of low-lying roads and fields.

“These peak levels in all three areas are significantly below those of previous flooding events, most notably in 2000, 2012 and 2015.

Cllr Keith Aspden, leader of City of York Council, said: “We’ve deployed over 4,000 sandbags across the city and over 200 one tonne sandbags to help the residents in the most at-risk locations. We’ll continue to spend the weekend strengthening our flood defences to protect as many homes and businesses as possible.

“York is very much open for business and as we move into half-term week, we’re encouraging everyone to visit our fantastic city, which always has much to offer.

“Over the next few days, we ask that people continue to keep an eye out for the latest information and alerts from the Environment Agency which provides river levels for the next 36 hours in York . Being the friendly city that we are, please also look out for friends and neighbours who may need support. And above all, stay well away from the rivers and flood water.”

The Environment Agency river forecasters will continue to monitor the situation 24/7 and provide further updates.

As of Sunday 16 February, working with partners the council has:

  • deployed a total of 4,000 sandbags and 200 one tonne sandbags across the city to help protect the most vulnerable properties 
  • worked with communities at Naburn to build defences and provided 480 sandbags and 21 one tonne sandbags
  • spoken to residents and built a new defence at Butcher Terrace, Cameron Grove and Terry Street in Clementhorpe
  • Clementhorpe defences have been raised (staffed 24/7 with additional sandbags provided if needed)
  • worked with the communities around Alma Terrace and Holly Street in Fishergate
  • put all flood defences in place and, since Storm Ciara the council has created new flood defences at Bishopthorpe and strengthened the Peckitt Street and Tower Gardens defences (Tower Gardens is being staffed 24/7 with additional sandbags provided if needed)
  • additional pumps and defences have been placed at the A19 and Germany Beck junction

For the latest information, road closures and advice visit:


City of York is providing sandbags to communities at immediate risk of flooding – people do not need to contact the council.

When river levels are expected to be high, the council is unlikely to be able to provide sandbags or other defences to other communities; our sandbag policy details priorities for use of sandbag stocks:

  1. repairing existing flood defences
  2. preventing flooding to large areas of residential* and commercial property
  3. protecting utilities, hospitals, schools, residential homes and emergency services buildings
  4. critical transport routes and essential roads
  5. individual residential or commercial properties

Sandbags from the council’s stocks will only be made available to individual residential or commercial properties if:

  • there's an immediate threat of flood
  • there’s enough stock remaining to continue protecting priority areas
  • flood waters aren't expected to rise above existing defences in priority areas

There may be a charge for providing sandbags, or any help to build flood defences, at individual residential or commercial property.

People should be able to buy sand and bags from the following places:

  • Travis Perkins - Foss Islands Road or Clifton Moor 
  • Jewsons - Foss Islands Road or Green Lane Trading Estate 
  • James Burrel - Clifton Moor
  • B&Q - Hull Road or Clifton Moor
  • Wickes - Clifton Moor
  • Buildbase - James Street
  • Keyline – Osbaldwick