LEVELS of the River Derwent have continued to fall this week as the clean up in Malton and Norton gets underway.

County Bridge reopened to traffic on Monday, however, Silver Command – set up in civil emergencies – remains in place to monitor the situation as groundwater levels continue to remain high.

In Norton, Church Street is still closed as agencies continue their efforts to reopen the road. However, Lascelles Lane in Old Malton reopened yesterday (Tuesday) afternoon.

Inspector Andy Everitt, of Malton Police, said the challenge of coping with the floods had been aggravated by icy conditions which had seen police officers working round the clock to control traffic.

He said: “The scale of the operation was greater than most people realised. This was the first test of the new defences and they have done their job, the challenge now is to clear the surface water.”

Insp Everitt added: “Throughout the flooding operation, we have put the protection of lives and property at the top of our priorities by co-ordinating with all the other agencies and organisations.

“It was disappointing that some properties were affected by the floods but without the defences the situation would have been much more serious.”

Ashley Cooke, who relocated his carpet business to premises at the foot of County Bridge last week, was beginning the clean up in the hope of reopening this week.

He said: “I was living on the premises as my home was flooded and had been keeping a close eye on the water levels, so I managed to get most valuables upstairs or on pallets.

“In some ways I am fortunate as the water is spring water which is relatively clean and I’m now trying to get everything back in to reopen.”

Nikki Hinds, who lives with his partner Karen, in Castlegate, Malton, said they were now living upstairs after flood water destroyed the ground floor of their property.

“We have lost everything and a marine aquarium we have lovingly kept for nearly 10 years has been destroyed,” he said.

“It has been extremely stressful. We had no flood warning at all and for 48 hours we had water pumping through our home.

“We don’t want to leave here so we’ve made a bedsit upstairs where we are safe and warm but the trauma of the last seven days has been unbelievable.”

A spokesperson for the Environment Agency said defences had protected more than 300 homes and businesses from the River Derwent.

“High volume pumps were deployed at Malton, Old Malton and Norton by the Environment Agency, Ryedale District Council and North Yorkshire Fire & Rescue to help manage surface and ground water flooding,” he said.

“The Environment Agency had patrols and workforce out around the Malton and Norton Area to monitor operations and the flooding situation.

“At Mill Beck in Norton mobile pumps were deployed overnight to bolster the in-situ pumping station.”

Janet Waggott, chief executive of Ryedale District Council, said the authority was now gearing up for the recovery phase of the operation. “Residents in the towns and outlying areas of Ryedale can be re-assured that the partner agencies have responded to the emergency situation in a co-ordinated and professional way. As the flooding situation gradually improves thanks to the multi-agency actions over the past week, we are now gearing up for the recovery phase of the operation.

“However, patience will be needed over the coming days while all routes are assessed and debris removed to ensure public safety.”

If you require assistance from the district council, phone 01653 697737 or go online at www.ryedale.gov.uk

Sewerage system did its job – Yorkshire Water

YORKSHIRE Water has said that the sewerage system in Malton and Norton ‘did what it should have done’.

A spokesman for the company said there was a lot of confusion among customers as to who is responsible for what.

“The Environment Agency looks after the rivers and Yorkshire Water looks after the sewage network – we are not responsible for the drains or gullets – that comes down to the councils.

“In terms of the situation in Malton, the river rose to such a high level it encroached into the local sewage network which is not designed to take the contents of the river so there was a back up issue and the pumps had to be called out.

“Going forward, we will be investigating to look at what happened in Malton and, working with the Environment Agency and local council what can be done together to improve the situation.”