As the clean-up operation continues across North Yorkshire today following storm Ciara there’s a warning that falling temperatures could result in snow on high ground and ice on wet road surfaces across the county.
The county council will be operating it’s full gritting service, however, motorists are warned to take additional care as gusty winds and rain showers alongside below-zero road surface temperatures could impact on many routes.
The warning follows a major multiagency response to the impact of Ciara across the York and North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum (NYLRF) area yesterday (February 9th). This includes North Yorkshire County Council, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service, North Yorkshire Police, City of York Council, Northern Power Grid, The Environment Agency and the Met Office. Working together throughout the day the partners coordinated resources in the areas most at risk.
Speaking as Chair on NYLRF Richard Flinton, who is also the Chief Executive of the county council, said: “Storm Ciara delivered us some significant challenges yesterday and into this morning. The predicted high winds actually resulted in less issues in the York and North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum area than the rain, which was responsible for widespread issues relating to surface water and flooding in Richmondshire, Hambleton, Craven and the Harrogate area particularly.
“We are very well practiced and have a strong track record in responding effectively together and quickly as a multiagency partnership to such events – as was the case yesterday.
“The Fire and Rescue Service responded to 34 calls to flooded properties yesterday and more than 81 calls came into the county council’s highways out-of-hours service. The most complex issues yesterday involved Pateley Bridge where for a limited period of time there was a risk to life status. Thankfully the water levels subsided and we were able to revise that and reassure local people.”
Elsewhere the county council has highways crews monitoring all areas of concern and undertaking widespread clean-up operations. Where appropriate bridge and other infrastructure inspections are being undertaken.
All of the school transport fleet went out in North Yorkshire with some taking flood diversions but no issues reported and just 4 schools are closed today. These were linked to power or access issues.
Richard Flinton continued: “Looking ahead the forecast for the next few days is for some strong gusty winds accompanied by some showers at times. However, the greater concern remains around the drop in temperatures which could see snow on higher ground and residual water on highways and new rain, turning to ice. While the county council will be operating a full gritting service as usual – it’s important that motorists take extra care and allow more time for journeys, slow down and leave a greater distance to the vehicles in front.
“I am also getting reports of people removing road closure signs and driving into flood water. I would like to remind people it is actually an offence to remove signage. Please help by obeying roads signs which are put there for your own safety.”
Superintendent Jason Dickson of North Yorkshire Police, said: “It's been a busy weekend for everyone at North Yorkshire Police. Our officers, staff and volunteers have been working extremely hard to help people throughout the county and meet the demand brought about by the weather.
“I'd like to thank North Yorkshire residents who showed great understanding and support for us throughout the weekend, in often very difficult circumstances.
“We're continuing to work closely with other organisations to keep routes as clear as possible and divert motorists if absolutely necessary. If you see a diversion, remember it's there for your safety. If a road is flooded or closed, please don't be tempted to chance it – it won't save you any time and it could be a costly mistake.”
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Jon Foster said: “Our fire crews, control room staff and officers have had a busy weekend with over 180 calls taken in our control room in a 24-hour period. As always there was a great response from a number of partner organisations and volunteer groups who all pulled together to help local communities.”
Meanwhile stories of resilience and determination of those who faced really difficult conditions to deliver services to people are also coming to light. These include valiant efforts by the council’s health and adult services reablement staff, battling storm force winds and rain to reach people who desperately needed their help.
Reablement care workers in the Dales who look after people in their homes needing intensive support, struggled through the floods to reach people, in some cases using 4 x 4s. At one point carers Sue Howells and Flavia Nyambira had to do a two-hour round trip, travelling 80 miles to navigate flooding and closed roads to reach a woman who lived out on a farm in East Witton.
Sue said: “The journey was pretty hard going but you can’t let people down in these circumstances when they are anxious and isolated. We’re likely to get snow next, but we’ve all got winter tyres and we know how to travel with care. We’ve lived in these parts all our lives so we know how to get on with it.”