Preparations to ensure North Yorkshire is ready to respond to Storm Dennis – just days after Ciara hit the county – are well under way.
An army of multi-agency experts, led by North Yorkshire County Council, is already working with the Met Office and Environment Agency to track where the strong winds and heavy rain are most likely to hit.
County Council Chief Executive Richard Flinton is the Chair of North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum, which includes the City of York. He said: “Combined with melting snow on some high ground and the fact that a lot of land is already saturated following the floods left by Ciara last weekend, we are focused on targeting resources where the impacts of further rain are most likely.
“The County Council is, for example, already clearing out drains at known hotspots and undertaking repairs to some road surfaces damaged last weekend. With the emergency services, we are putting joint working plans in place that can be stood up rapidly if needed and Ready for Anything volunteers will be put on standby, should they be needed if there’s further flooding.
“Clearly forecasts can change, but we believe residents and businesses in North Yorkshire rightly expect us to be proactive. We advise people to watch the weather forecast from the Met Office and consider whether there is action they need to take and to keep a close eye on travel conditions.”
The county council’s highways crews acted swiftly in the wake of Storm Ciara, undertaking widespread clean-up operations to remove mud and debris from roads and carrying out rapid repairs, including on Denton Road in Harrogate district where water stripped the surface from the road. Repairs there are scheduled to be completed tomorrow.
The crews are now ensuring resources are deployed effectively in preparation for Storm Dennis, sandbag stocks replenished and gully-cleaning vehicles at the ready.
Nigel Smith, Head of Highway Operations, said: “We are experienced and have a strong track record in responding effectively to events of this nature. Our teams will be on the ground doing everything they can to keep people safe and to support communities before, during and after this weather event.
“I would ask that drivers play their part by heeding any flood warnings or road closures we need to put into place. We do so for everyone’s safety, but last weekend there were instances of people removing signs and driving into flood water. Even if the flood water has receded, bridges and other structures may need to be inspected to ensure they are safe for use. Not only is removing signs dangerous, it is an offence.”
Today (Thursday), a handful of roads across the county remained closed due to flooding, along with some closures this morning as a result of snow on high routes in the Dales.
Updates on road closures will be posted on the council’s website.
Superintendent Jason Dickson of North Yorkshire Police, said: “Last weekend was very busy for everyone at North Yorkshire Police, with adverse weather causing a lot of disruption.
“We will continue to work closely with other organisations to keep routes as clear as possible should we see a repeat of difficult conditions caused by Storm Dennis. Our advice is to be prepared and, if the weather is really bad, do not make unnecessary journeys.
“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.”
The multi-agency response from the York and North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum involves 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 as NYLRF, the partners routinely work together to plan for emergencies and mitigate their impact.