Flooding – An article by Simon Barraclough – Station Master
Monday 25th was very wet and I was stuck on a train between York and Peterborough due to flooding along the line when I got a call from Levisham station. It was David and he said without preamble ‘where are the empty sandbags?’. I was able to tell him and then I asked why he wanted them? His reply was ‘the flood waters about to enter the cottages!’. ‘Blimey’, I thought (or something very similar to that!) is it really raining that bad? I finally got to Levisham at 4.45pm and my first view from the top of the hill made me stop the car dead – the whole valley was water! My second thought was where had the marquee gone? It was up when we left last night. Going down the hill, the stream which passes under the road at the bend was going over it and when we got near the cattle grid we found lots of cars parked there. The reason quickly came into view – flood water extended from the cattle grid right the way across the valley to the other side. Fortunately I had put wellies in the car before we left home as it was over 6”/150mm deep over the level crossing!
At the cottages, sandbags were keeping the worst of the water out of our accommodation but we had to keep constantly bailing and mopping up what was coming in. We started using the wet’n’dry vacuum cleaner to suck up the flood waters, it was taking about 8 seconds to fill its 10 litre chamber. At 5pm the rain was still coming down and the level was going up – it eventually peaked about 10.30pm. By good luck we managed to keep the waters contained to the hall, toilet and kitchen.
I asked about the marquee and was told they had got it down just before it was completely washed away. The water came up that fast that between starting to drop the canvas and getting it to the platform side of the paddock, it had risen out of the stream and over the tops of their wellies!
A PWay inspection train arrived from Newbridge around 6pm and ploughed through the waters before going up into Newtondale to see what it was like there. It wasn’t that long before they came back having got just beyond Newtondale Halt before having to return as the flood water was over the rails and therefore too deep to proceed safely.
By Tuesday the water level had fallen and the process of drying out buildings and putting things back together could begin. It also allowed the full extent of damage to be revealed. The car park has been very severely scoured; the road and locking room under the signal box is full of silt, as is the track through the platforms; the level crossing had all its ash washed away; culverts were full of debris; the ‘lead off’ was caked in debris and silt around the cranks and wheels; the trespass guards had collapsed and partially floated away, the ridge pole of the marquee had snapped and our back garden has been partially washed away.
Fylingdales had the highest rainfall in the whole country on Monday with 103mm and we were the first part of the railway to cop it. Over Monday night and Tuesday the floodwater reached Pickering flooding the town very extensively.
Thanks must be expressed to our neighbours who happened to be at the station with some friends from South Africa and gave up a days holiday to help out, Chris Ware and his parents Keith and Joyce and the signalman Niel MacDonald and his trainee Peter and Paul Taylor who came down in the evening to help out. Beth and I went home at 11.45 on Monday evening once the water had peaked and we knew the cottage was safe – I was due in Glasgow the following day with work!