Clean-up operation under way in deluged villages

A clean-up operation has started in the Yorkshire Dales villages that have been worst hit by flooding, with one local resident describing their community as a “virtual lake”.

Members of the public could be seen donning wet weather gear in order to clear pools of water in the hamlet of Fremington, which is joined to the nearby areas of Reeth and Grinton in North Yorkshire.

The fire service said it received around 115 calls to flooding incidents in Leyburn and Reeth on Tuesday evening, while pictures and videos from the nearby village of Cogden Gill showed a bridge used in the 2014 Tour de France in ruins.

Alex Rafferty is one of the event organisers involved in putting on the Ard Rock mountain bike event, which was due to take place in Reeth from Thursday to Sunday but has now been cancelled.

Speaking on Wednesday, the 32-year-old said his team are now involved in the clear-up, telling PA: “The weather really took a turn for the worst yesterday.

“We expected some rain, we expected some stormy weather, but I think collectively in the valley here no-one really expected what happened.

“It truly just came down off the hills in waterfalls, it blew the riverbanks and has damaged a huge amount of infrastructure, local houses and local businesses.”

Dales
Floodwater outside Dales Cafe and Cakery in Yorkshire (Danny Lawson/PA)

The field where the event was due to take place was seen covered in water on Wednesday, with Mr Rafferty explaining how it would be impossible for tents to pitch up there.

He added: “We’re pretty restricted in terms of access from all sides of the valley, there’s bridges that are down, there’s roads that are blocked, so right now it’s trying to contain what we’ve got and work to support local people and local services to help out.”

Wilf Bishop, 77, has lived in the Yorkshire Dales since 1988 and moved to Reeth in 2000.

He described the weather conditions as “appalling, absolutely appalling”.

Describing how the rain came down from the hillside, he said: “We’d just got back from a walk on the hillside and it started to rain a little, then within minutes it was this astonishing downpour.”

He explained how the deluge of rainfall lasted around “a couple of hours”.

Mr Bishop said: “You can see just walking around the village the effect that it has had. People’s gardens are covered in silt and mud, their lawns don’t exist any more.

“The farmers – the hay that they’ve just taken and bailed up has been strewn everywhere, so that will be written off. I guess livestock has been lost, I don’t know. It’s turned this part of Reeth, the lower part, into a virtual lake, and everyone is working hard to try and recover it.”

He told how he has resisted the urge to ask his nearby friends how the weather has impacted upon them, fearing the devastation it may have caused them.

“We’ll get by, but it’s going to be a difficult time, and it will take a long time to repair the infrastructure, the bridges and so on,” he said.

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