status: high alert as clean-up begins

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THE clean-up of flood-hit properties in Ryedale is now underway – even though the multi-agency floods task force will remain on high alert in the days to come.

Water levels on the River Derwent continue to fall from a peak of five metres – just 28 centimetres below the height of the flood defences – to 3.34 metres yesterday.

The situation is now expected to remain stable as long as there are no prolonged periods of rainfall.

It means people can now turn their attention to salvaging their homes and businesses which spent the majority of last week deluged with water.

A total of 14 properties in Malton, Old Malton, Brawby, Pickering and Sinnington are known to have been hit by flood water although that figure is expected to rise as more information is gathered, while Church Street, Norton, was still closed to traffic yesterday afternoon.

Ashley Cooke suffered a double blow when both his home and his business were hit by the flooding.

His house at the Cornmill, Railway Street, Malton, which he shares with girlfriend Sophie Marwood, was the first to be affected with more than two feet of water decimating the property on Tuesday last week. The next day it was the turn of his business, Ashley Cooke’s Carpets & Beds, on the Malton-side of County Bridge, with spring water from the Lady Spring Woods coming into the premises.

With the help of his friends, he was able to save any valuables from both properties by moving them to safety.

But the hammer blow was made worse by the fact that he had only just opened his new showroom to the public.

“It was one of the worst weeks of my life – a nightmare,” he told the Mercury. “It has put us back a week at a time when it is our most crucial time for trading. We got the key six to seven weeks ago and rushed everything through to get ready for Christmas.”

“We are aiming to be open to the general public today or tomorrow, existing customers are already coming in though.”

He added: “It has been a very trying period. Trying to sort work out, the old house, the new house. I think it will be a long time before we can move back to our old home.”

The situation was the same at Firestation Pre-School on Sheepfoot Hill, Malton, which also fell victim to floodwater from Lady Spring Woods and will now be temporarily re-homed at Norton Community Primary School.

Manager Jo Ogram said a torrent of floodwater came through the back wall and ran right through the building from Wednesday until Saturday.

The fire service provided five pumps at its worst point with two still being used on Monday morning.

“That has never happened before in the 10 years I have been here,” said Jo, who has 75 children attend the pre-school. “It has been a roller coaster. The problem is that it has been so changeable.

“On Tuesday when the spring began, I thought we might be able to contain it but when I came in the next day it had come through the back wall.

“We couldn’t do anything until it stopped. We have had people here 24/7 manning pumps and I have been here from 5am until 11pm every day since last Tuesday.

“I’m tired. Not only have we had the flood but we have had the dilemma of Ofsted and having to move.”

The search for a temporary home has taken the pre-school to Norton Community Primary School and normal service has been resumed after Ofsted allowed them to have temporary accommodation for 14 days - taking them up to the start of the Christmas break.

“I just pray it doesn’t happen again,” added Jo.

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