standard Autumn flooding in North East England

Sim Reaney and Brett Cherry look at some of the severe cases of flooding that have taken place this week in North East England.

The heavy rains that hit the North East of England recently caused some major floods in the last few days.  Regions of the A1 motorway were shutdown for two days between Disforth (North Yorkshire) and Bradbury (near Durham).  People’s homes and businesses were also flooded in Morpeth and other cities, towns and villages in the North East due to heavy rain fall.  According to BBC News, among the areas worst hit by flooding were Morpeth, Durham, Rothbury, Chester-le-Street and Stockton-on-Tees.

Some of the water levels (hydrographs) recorded by the Environment Agency show the level above previous records, while in other parts it seems to have returned to previous levels.  This morning the River Swale in Yorkshire a major tributary of the River Ure which becomes the River Ouse (which caused major flooding in Yorkshire) was measured at 5.28 metres at Crakehill close to the record of 5.45.

At Morton-On-Swale the level is dropping from 6.47 metres recorded on 26 Sept to 4.13 this morning.

Environment Agency river level data for Morton-On-Swale

At Myton-On-Swale however the level is still high enough to cause potential flooding.

Environment Agency river level data for Myton-On-Swale

The River Ouse caused severe flooding in parts of Yorkshire such as Tadcaster and York.  Gauge readings show it went at or above previous level records.

Environment Agency river level data for River Ouse at Skelton

Rainfall (millimetres per hour) for North Yorkshire (Sim Reaney)

Flooding in Durham City. (Sunderland Echo)

In the city of Durham the River Wear which surrounds the city centre breached its banks, which led to road closures and cars stranded.  While flooding of the banks has occurred in recent years this was the first time I witnessed it personally on the way to work, when I noticed parts of the footpath along the river were completely inundated (will add photos here soon).

Near Richmond in North Yorkshire an older people’s care home was flooded after defences installed there failed.

From the Northern Echo:

Sixteen elderly residents of a council care home in North Yorkshire, the oldest aged 92, had to be carried to safety by firefighters after the home became swamped by water. An investigation is under way as to what went wrong at the Oswin Grove care home in Gilling West, near Richmond , after flood defences installed there only seven years ago failed. The residents have been rehoused in Richmond, Easingwold and Bedale until the home can be reopened.

It seems that better preparedness for the UK’s elderly care facilities couldn’t come soon enough as increases in precipitation are expected to continue due to climate change.

As the North East recovers from yet another flood event this year there is much to reflect upon in terms of not only engineering new ways to mitigate flood risk and bringing parts of the A1 and local flood defences up-to-date for example, but also looking at methods of preparing for flood events more effectively that includes everyone involved from councils, volunteers and local communities to national government, NGOs and universities.  Top-down approaches to alleviate flooding, while successful at times in treating the symptoms of the problem, tend not to address the much larger issues of coordination and foresight needed in dealing with large flood hazards that can very easily turn into disaster.

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