MALTON came within two feet of disaster yesterday as the swollen River Derwent tested the market town’s £10m flood defences to the limit.
Last night there was no end in sight for flooding misery for residents - now being caused not only by overflowing drains but fresh spring water flowing in torrents through homes.
The Environment Agency called in more heavy-duty pumps as emergency services tackled flooding across the town and over the river in Norton.
The 999 services face a delicate balancing act - pumping out properties means they have to drain the water into the Derwent, which was only 2ft below the defensive walls.
Roads in and around Malton, Old Malton and Norton continue to be affected.
Yesterday water levels peaked in Town Street, Malton, just eight inches below the levels recorded in the 2000 floods.
Motorists are being urged to follow the designated diversion routes and to drive with extra care, particularly as a drop in temperature over the next few days is expected to cause icy road conditions.
People are also being urged to keep well away from flood and fast flowing water. This includes groups of onlookers who are congregating where the essential pumping work is taking place.
Police cordons have been placed in the areas of most concern, both to maximise public safety and to prevent any disruption to the emergency effort.
Inspector Andy Everitt, from Malton Police, said: “The sheer effort, professionalism and team work displayed by all the agencies involved in the flood relief operation in Ryedale, has been impressive.
“By working together to form a co-ordinated emergency response, each agency has played a critical role in protecting our communities from the very real danger and destruction that flooding can bring.
“Whilst the situation remains challenging with the River Derwent expected to be running high over the coming days, residents and local businesses can be reassured that we are doing everything in our power to protect them and their property. Our collective aim is a return to normality as soon as possible.”
Chief Insp Everitt added: “The safety of the public and our staff is the top priority during this operation.
“It is vitally important that people keep away from places where there is dangerous, fast-flowing water. Please keep out of areas that have been cordoned off by the police. We simply want to ensure that people remain safe from harm.
“Also, the workers from the emergency services and agencies assisting the operation should be left to do their job without any disruption or distraction from onlooking members of the public. Again, please keep away from these areas.
“We greatly appreciate the patience and understanding that has been shown by local people.”
For the latest information about flood warnings in your area, please go to the Environment Agency website www.environment-agency.gov.uk or call the Floodline on 0845 988 1188.
For Twitter users, please use the hashtag #FloodAware
Details of local road closures are available from North Yorkshire County Council’s website www.northyorks.gov.uk and City of York Council website www.york.gov.uk
Latest traffic information about the A1, A64 and A19 is available from the Highways Agency website http www.highways.gov.uk/traffic-information
Or tune in to local radio for the latest traffic and travel reports.
WINTER DRIVING SAFETY
A comprehensive guide to safe winter driving is available on the North Yorkshire Police website www.northyorkshire.police.uk/winterdriving
Follow North Yorkshire Police on twitter for useful winter driving tips @NYorksPolice
Please leave extra time for journeys as some roads around the county remain closed due to flooding.