Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Watching the waters rise in York

As you probably know York is famously prone to floods. The water that falls in the Dales and the Moors finds it way down into the Ouse and the river here also meets the wee River Foss. For a few days every year we get a bit of a flood. It always gets a mention on the regional news and very occassionally in a bad year on the national news. The year 2000 saw the biggest floods in York for nearly 400 years. Our street stayed resolutely dry. We're far enough away from the river for it to be a bit of an interesting novelty, we don't have to contend with a flooded basement every year as those who live on its banks regularly do. The attention that gets focused on the floods here in York is a bit misleading however. York has a massive flood protection system with millions more to be spent on upgrading it over the next few years. The historic city centre is regarded as being of international importance and in need of protection. So as the waters rise, it's not really York that suffers. Considering the amount of population that lives nearby, very few homes are ever effected. Even in 2000 most of York was relatively unscathed. It could of been worse had the defences been breached, but the point is they weren't. They did what they were built to do. With the improvements that are taking place , despite global warming, York looks fairly secure. We're lucky we live somewhere that is known about nationally and as a result gets a larger slice of the funding pie.
It's the rest of North Yorkshire which really suffers. All our great rivers have little, largely forgotten about towns lying on them. As a result it's currently Middleham and Leyburn for instance which are having the most to contend with. Ripon, Malton, Pickering and Selby downriver on the Ouse are also always at serious risk. So I can take my photos of the river thankful I don't live somewhere which just doesn't figure in the roster of places worth protecting. The people who live in those towns I'm sure feel very different. These photos were taken this morning.


Carla said...

If I remember rightly, there was an archaeological dig in the Roman colonia (civil settlement) on the west bank of the Ouse (Wellington Row?) that found evidence of flooding and rebuilding in the early Roman city. So it goes back a long way! I wonder if the Roman fort at Malton (Derventio) got flooded regularly? I'm not sure of its exact location relative to the modern town.

Alex Bordessa said...

The fort at Malton is on a bit of a hill.

Terry said...

One of the amusing aspects of living in mid-Wharfedale and working in York is watching the Wharfe rise around Ilkley, knowing that by the following day that lump of water will have followed me down the A59 to York. Carla asks about flooding in Roman York. As far as we know, the Ouse was lower in the 1st-2nd centuries, and there wasn't the weir at Naburn to help it back up.