The flooding across the city has truly been shocking for everyone. So many issues including climate change, land management and other environmental factors have announced to the country that flooding is to be an expected feature and therefore a fresh, proactive approach of flood prevention rather than management is needed.
However, we have to address the immediate need of keeping people safe in the city. As the river continues to rise, we need to make sure that no one is trapped in their homes and everyone has access to the right information to protect their property. The Environment Agency website is providing updated information of flood warnings, and BBC Radio York is putting information out as much as possible, but it is evident that what people are witnessing with their own eyes should also determine the action that they should take. Advice has included requesting sandbags if water levels are rising near you, do not drive through flood water, place your personal property as high up as you can or take it upstairs, pack an emergency bag, and if worried, contact the Council on their new emergency number 07500 100398 or the emergency services.
I have been out day and night across the city offering help wherever I can, listening to concerns and the issues you are raising about the situation. As well as cycling around York's flooded areas and going door to door in at-risk areas to talk to local people, I have also been providing practical help, particularly for the elderly, in helping to put belongings on high surfaces, packing overnight bags and assisting with evacuation exercises. My physio background has certainly helped with helping the more infirm to mobilise safely. It has been distressing for so many to have to leave, so some are just needing some care and comfort. I also helped out at the rest centre at Archbishop Holgate School.
I am also conscious that many businesses have been impacted by the floods. Along the river, some businesses have experienced flooding since mid-November. I was active in Parliament and met with government ministers as a result of the flooding we had before Christmas and will be representing the city as soon as I return to Westminster on 5 January, however I have contacted the Environment Minister and Prime Minister's office over the last few days.
The emergency services have provided incredible service to York. The army, the mountain rescue service, the fire and rescue service, the police, the council workers, the health and care services and those working day and night to provide us with updates on the situation, including at the emergency flood centre have given up their family Christmas' and have done everything they can to help. As ever people from across York have never failed to impress with getting stuck into help and acts of kindness.
Obviously there has been a disaster, and over the coming days it is important that there is an honest dialogue where every issue is raised, every question asked and answered, lessons are learnt and investment made. I am particularly conscious of the concerns over the Foss Flood Barrier, pumping stations and the communications you have raised with me. I'm gathering a list of issues, so please do email me anything you want to raise and share. email@example.com
For now, just take care and keep safe.