Work goes on to support flood-stricken communities

Recovery work following last week’s devastating floods in the upper Yorkshire Dales continues apace as communities and agencies pull together to help stricken residents and reconnect affected villages.

Temporary bridge arrives on low loader on the B6270

The temporary bridge which will replace the damaged structure on the B6270 which links the upper dale to Richmond arrived on site by low loader on Wednesday.

Highways staff are also repairing the landslip further along the road so it can reopen to two-way traffic as soon as possible. The target date for this is August 16. Permanent repairs will then take place later on.

“Our highways staff and engineers have been pulling out all the stops to get these vital roads reopened as soon as possible,” said County Councillor Don Mackenzie, North Yorkshire’s Executive Member for Access.

The County Council’s resilience and emergencies team have also been on the ground ever since the rain fell over a week ago, working with Richmondshire District Council officers and volunteer members of  Team Rubicon Uk, made up of largely ex-military personnel, forging ahead with the clear-up operation. 

Along with volunteers from the County Council’s Major Incident Response Team they have been clearing out flood water and rubble from people’s homes, delivering sandbags, food parcels, cleaning and drying equipment, providing advice and dishing out hot meals in the community hubs in Grinton, Reeth and Bellerby.

“The resilience and community spirit and the way everybody is pulling together to help those directly affected in the upper Dales is phenomenal,” said North Yorkshire’s Leader, County Cllr Carl Les. “We have lost no time in trying to restore everyday life in the flooded areas and volunteers, officers and highways staff have been working round the clock to help all those affected.”

The eight Team Rubicon volunteers have been given free accommodation by the King’s Arms and The Laurels in Reeth. “Everybody has been fantastic” said Rubicon volunteer Joe Borg.  “We’ve had endless offers of tea and cake and we’ve been working with all agencies to clear up flooded properties, move rubble and silt and help people shift white goods, furniture and other items destroyed by the flood water.”

Cockburns in Bedale donated and delivered 250 pies and the fish and chip shop in Hawes sent over a consignment of mushy peas so pie and peas could be offered from the Bellerby hub for people in without the means to cook.

Wayne Pearson, manager of Cockburn’s, said: “We had seen everything that had been going on and wanted to do anything we could to help.

“It was on the spur of the moment and in the great scheme of things it is a small gesture, but we will try to do anything we can to help.

“The owners, Mark and Jonathan, and I and most of the staff have grown up around the area, so it is horrible to see anyone go through this. It is only a few miles away. We were very lucky to miss most of it here in Bedale.”

Marske Choir also came together to cheer everybody up and promote the spirit of togetherness.

At an open air recital in Reeth, one of the towns affected, members of the choir performed a special version of the much loved song Beautiful Dale. The recital included a specially written verse about the floods and was sung by local farmer Martin Wallis.

“Our staff and volunteers, who have been out and about in the Upper Dales for a week now, have been so impressed with the huge generosity shown for those affected by the floods,” said Cllr Les.  “For the most part residents have been hugely appreciative of the speed and level of support.

“They also want to send out the message loud and clear that the Yorkshire Dales is still open for business. While we urge people to adhere to any road closure or flood warning signs by not driving through these closures, the overwhelming majority of the Yorkshire Dales is still accessible and ready with a big welcome for visitors.”

At a community meeting in Grinton last night David Bowe, North Yorkshire’s director of business and environmental services, addressed residents concerned about further flood risks posed by the hundreds of tons of rubble brought down by last week’s floods which are currently blocking Grinton Gill. 

The Environment Agency has agreed to remove stone from the area where the Gill meets the River Swale but the council wishes to support landowners who are responsible for removing rubble from further up the stream.

The district and county councils are looking to work with the community to clear the Gill and to utilise the Government’s Bellwin scheme which helps pay for work after disasters and emergencies.

If Bellwin funding is not forthcoming, it is proposed to establish a community fund with contributions from the county council, district, parish council and other bodies such as the Environment Agency and Yorkshire Water along with contributions from the riparian owners  to pay for the work.

“We want to do everything as quickly as we can, working also with our Richmond MP, Rishi Sunak, and his team, to support the local population through this difficult time” said Cllr Les.

The county council will continue to monitor highways diversion routes, some of which are on very minor roads, to make sure they are safe and usable at all times. Everyone is urged to drive with care and be patient in letting other vehicles pass safely.

Cogden South Bridge on the C106 at Grinton Moor was completely devastated by the flood.  NYCC’s bridge designers have undertaken special designs to create a temporary structure upstream of the collapsed bridge which will join the road back together.  The target is to reopen the C106 before the end of August and NYCC also hopes this will enable the UCI Road World Championship race to take place on the publicised route in September. Reconstruction work of a permanent structure will take place later on. 

This story was published 7 August 2019