When flood waters struck the historic walled city of York just after Christmas in 2015, it was the worst disaster of its kind in over a generation. The River Ouse, which runs through the centre of York, provides a run off for all of the rivers in the Yorkshire Dales, so any period of heavy rainfall can see the likelihood of flooding in the city increase. Serious floods have blighted York in 1947, 1982 and 2000 but the waters that hit this old Viking settlement on Monday 28th December were the most devastating yet.
Usually, it’s just the River Ouse that bursts its banks but this time it was joined by the tributary River Foss, as the failure of the Foss Barrier backed the Ouse floodwaters up. 500 homes were inundated with water, 250 people were evacuated from their homes and the council were tasked with providing emergency accommodation for over 100 people.
Any flooding disaster is a terrible occurrence and at The Insurance Emporium, we will do whatever we can to help those affected. The events in York 2015 were especially pertinent for us however, given that our head office is less than fifteen miles from the city centre and just a mile away from the River Ouse. The disaster was so close to home that our Claims Manager felt the urge to volunteer and help during the relief effort. We spoke to her about her experience and how you might protect yourself and your possessions in the event of a flood.
Q: So how did you get involved in the relief effort for the York floods?
“I wasn’t personally affected by the floods but, living locally, I knew people who were. When you see your family and friends struggling, you want to get involved and help out. As soon as it happened, I saw a Facebook group set up called York Floods 2015 help for the affected, where people could offer their services. There were offers of food donations, clothing donations and notifications of where help was needed. I joined it and quickly offered my help where and when I could.”
Q: How did you help out?
“In any way I could really. In time of disaster, any help offered is greatly appreciated. Watching the news
reports, you can really sympathise and you put yourself in those situations. Fortunately, I had the week off work after Christmas so I was able to dedicate a lot of my time to the effort. When I arrived it turned out that a lot of other people had the same idea – there were loads of people at three or four locations across York. There was a kitchen that cooked food, especially for flood victims and those helping out, and it was our job to drive these hot meals out to them. You could see everyone was really grateful!”
Q: What memories have you taken away from the events of 2015?
“I only actually went into the centre of York once. Mainly, I was just going to the meeting points where the rescue effort was being coordinated. But the time I did go in was just heartbreaking. To see people’s houses, their homes, under flood water – it was just so sad, and the water itself smelt awful. We went into people’s homes and they still had their Christmas decorations up, you really felt for them. Having said that, the effort put into help by residents, people from surrounding areas and local and national businesses was inspiring. The Facebook group is still going to this day, people share photos and memories of the floods, but mainly it’s now a community noticeboard. People go on it to ask for help and advice and others are only too willing to help out. The one positive of an incident like this is that it really brings people together. The human kindness we saw was inspiring.”
Q: Working in the industry that you do, what are your thoughts on flooding?
“From an insurance point-of-view, I really saw how helpful cover can be in a flood disaster. All those flood-damaged houses, with their soggy Christmas decorations, you could see that it might cost a lot of money to repair them and a lot of people wouldn’t just have that lying about. Insurance could help to redecorate and replace items. York is susceptible to flooding but, in other areas, some people might not think insurance necessary, especially if they’re worried about their budget. But climate is an issue and areas you wouldn’t expect to be in danger are now flooding. Insurance might be more important than some people think.”
It isn’t just home insurance that could help get you back on your feet in the event of flooding. Caravan*, marine*, cycle, golf, camera and fishing insurance might be useful should the water start coming in around your feet.
Come and have a look around The Insurance Emporium today and find out how we could help you to look after the things you love in the event of a flood…
If you have been affected by the events of this story and would like to contribute, the York Rescue Boat is a charity and organisation set up to provide a physical and proactive commitment to furthering the safety of the rivers of York.
*Subject to flood risk assessment.
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