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Storm Christophe and COVID vaccinations

Residents in North Yorkshire are being urged to prepare for flooding as heavy and persistent rain is forecast to continue over the next few days, as Storm Christophe sweeps in.

People who need to travel to COVID vaccination appointments and testing sites, are also being urged to take extra care.

Dr Bruce Willoughby, NHS North Yorkshire Clinical Commissioning Group Governing Body Member and clinical lead for community and integrated care, said: “If you have an appointment to attend a covid vaccination clinic over the next couple of days, allow yourself a little bit of additional time to get there.

“With persistent rain anticipated across parts of North Yorkshire, some of the region’s roads, particularly those in more remote areas, may be hazardous and require additional care.

“Stay alert and please follow any diversions that have been put in place.”

The message from the North Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum (NYLRF), which is heading a multi-agency response to the flooding, is that residents should prepare for the impact the bad weather could bring.  

The Met Office has issued an amber weather warning for rain across North Yorkshire, which remains in force until midday on Thursday (January 21).

Karl Battersby, the North Yorkshire County Council’s Corporate Director for Business and Environmental Services, said: “We are working with partners to do everything we can to prepare for the impact of flooding.

“Please only make essential journeys and do not attempt to drive through floodwater or walk near swollen rivers. If road closure signs are in place please adhere to them. Even if flood water has receded, bridges and other structures may need to be inspected to ensure they are safe for use.”

The County Council’s highways teams have been busy clearing drains and gullies at known hotspots around the county and have doubled the number of sandbags to be deployed – more than 15,000 are now at the ready around the county. Cones, barriers and signage for road closures have been distributed across the region and are ready to be used when necessary.

Highways staff are monitoring key routes in Malton, Swaledale, Kex Gill and on the high ground at Blubberhouses between Harrogate and Skipton. They are double staffing Selby Swing Bridge to take additional calls on highways issues in the area.

North Yorkshire Police and North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service are both appealing for drivers to take care if travelling across the region over the coming days.

A force spokesperson said: “Some areas of the county have experienced bad weather over the last few days, and frontline officers from both services have dealt with a large range and high volume of weather-related incidents.

“With more wet weather being forecast and flooding now being a risk, both organisations are working closely with other agencies to keep routes as clear as possible and divert motorists if absolutely necessary. If you see a diversion, please remember it’s there for your safety.

“With the wet weather likely to continue for most of the week, do not take chances by driving through flood water. If you come across a flooded road or a road closed sign we’d ask you to turn around and find an alternative route. Just 60cm of standing water and 30cm of flowing water can be enough to float/move your vehicle. So please don’t take the risk!”

With sub-zero temperatures expected to return at the weekend, the county council’s robust winter service will continue.

“We are replenishing the stocks of salt ahead of the next predicted bout of winter weather,” said Karl Battersby.  We are also working as quickly as possible to replenish depleted grit bins and heaps.

“Please bear in mind that those involved in replenishing the bins and heaps are the same people that are dealing with other emergencies such as flooding.”

Residents who need support during lockdown are also being reassured that help will still be on hand.

Marie-Ann Jackson, the County Council’s head of Stronger Communities, said: “There are many people up and down the county who are relying on volunteers during the current national lockdown for shopping, collecting medication and other essentials.

“Where volunteers are unable to get out due to flooding, we have people on standby to step in. We’re also urging North Yorkshire residents to please keep checking on people in their community who might need a helping hand, whilst also following the advice to make sure you’re staying safe.”

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