Residents lead relief effort as full impact of flooding is revealed

Volunteers at the emergency hub at Reeth Memorial Hall last month.

A community-led relief effort is underway in Swaledale and Arkengarthdale today – but residents are critical of the response from the local authorities.

Residents and businesses are pulling together to provide help for those who have suffered because of this week’s flooding.

Reeth Memorial Hall has become a hub for distribution of food, clothing, medical supplies and manpower.

Local residents whose homes and farms have been flooded are calling in for help and support.

Food parcels are being distributed to those who need it with help from volunteers including members of Swaledale Mountain Rescue Team.

Volunteers in the hall are also helping to coordinate the clean-up operation.

Mum of three Toni Calvert is coordinating the relief effort.

She said: “People have literally lost everything. They are walking into the hall with only their clothes they stand up in and bursting into tears.

“People’s homes have been flooded, their cars are gone, farmers have lose their livestock, feed, their walls and fences are down.

“We are doing what we can and we have a fantastic team of volunteers.

“We have had so many offers of help. Local businesses have been amazing and donated all sorts. We’ve also had companies from Darlington which have sent donations.”

Toni said offers of help were also coming from further afield with volunteer Muslim group One Nation due to come tomorrow.

However, Toni and others have been critical of the official response.

She said: “The council sent road sweepers at 8am this morning to sweep up the dust which wasn’t much use at all when the drains are still all blocked.

“The Army came, got fed, but how much actual work they did I’m not so sure.

“But the strongest thing we have is our community and we will stand together as one and help each other.”

Stuart Price, from the Dales Bike Centre, in Fremington, is a retained firefighter and was called out to Leyburn on Tuesday, while his business suffered flooding.

He said: “We’ve been very lucky really. W are well prepared with pumps and flood gates and the staff did amazingly to keep the water out.

“It’s heartbreaking what’s happened to our friends and neighbours.”

Farmer Raymond Calvert said the flooding was the worst he has seen in 40 years of farming at Fremington.

He added: “A lot of people have likened it to Hurricane Charlie but this was worse and so much quicker

“There’s only so much people can do at the moment as we wait for the insurance people to do their thing.”

Stuart has a weather gauge which shows 113mm fell in an hour on Tuesday, with 152mm falling in total.

Callum McKeon. corporate director of strategy and regulatory at Richmondshire District Council , said: “We are working hard with a network of partners and volunteers including the Red Cross to support the people and communities impacted by the flash floods and understanding their needs is really important to us.

“We have been in Reeth today to organise putting practical support in place such as locations for a number of skips which residents will be able to use to get rid of household items ruined by the water. We are working with the memorial hall to coordinate donations for local people and will be funding food parcels to support those who need help. The hall will be the hub for the county council’s Ready for Anything volunteers who will be working with us in the village tomorrow making sure we understand people’s individual needs so we can provide the right support and advice.

“We also have our leader and chief executive officer touring communities and listening to people today and this will include Reeth. While not everything we are doing is visible I want to reassure everyone that we are out there visiting communities and putting a range of practical support measures in place to help.” ​

Dave Bowe, corporate director of Business and Environmental Services at North Yorkshire County Council, said: “We are immensely proud of the spirit and resilience shown by communities across North Yorkshire and of our own staff in their rapid response to what is without doubt an unusually severe weather event.

“As our residents and businesses would expect of us, we are focussed on ensuring we reopen the small number of roads which remain closed as quickly as possible.

“Our commitment is clear in the speed with which we removed tonnes of mud and rocks from many rural routes and in our determination to resolve the more complex issue of the key B6270 which links the upper dale to Richmond.

“In addition to the clearance operations we have been carrying out detailed assessments of the roads and bridges including inspections by specialist geotechnical engineers so we can produce a detailed plan for reinstating the road network as quickly and safely as possible.

“In terms of the B6270, there are two problems to overcome here; the rush and force of the flash floods have caused a landslip which has damaged a section of carriageway near Cogden Heugh to the east of Grinton which has removed over a quarter of the highway width in that location and further towards Grinton there is significant damage to the bridge over Cogden Beck which means that the bridge needs to be replaced.

“Together these present a significant challenge but one we are working hard to overcome.

“Public safety will be our priority and clearly we are still in the early stages of understanding the scale of the problem, but we are aiming to carry out temporary bridge and carriageway repairs which would allow access under traffic management to this route by mid-August and then two-way traffic flow before the end of September.

“These are our target dates and while we obviously hope to meet them; we are in the hands of the elements and as such we will provide regular updates as the project progresses.

“We recognise that the current diversion route means longer journeys and we want a solution that’s safe and practical as soon as possible.

“In addition to our works on the B6270 we will also be working hard to reopen the C106 road that runs from Grinton towards Leyburn which has been temporarily closed following the collapse of Grinton Moor Bridge.

“We are also planning to install a temporary structure in this location with a target date of the end of August.​ In addition to the temporary solutions required to safely reopen these roads we will set about the work required to deliver permanent replacement bridges as soon as possible.

“We want to send a clear message out to everyone that we are doing everything possible to support them in practical ways.

“Alongside our focus on the roads we are also coordinating our army of volunteers who signed up for our Ready for Anything team. They are out today helping us understand the personal impact on householders, so we can work with partners to solve as many problems as possible.

“We are also looking to get our mobile household waste recycling unit out into communities so that residents who need to, can get rid of damaged property once they have spoken to their insurance companies.”

Richmondshire Today contacted Carl Les, leader of the county council, who said the Major Incident Response Team has this afternoon been in touch with Toni Calvert and food was to be supplied to the hall by Tesco, with the district council paying for the supplies.

Those coordinating the relief effort have appealed for donations of money, food, and manpower and machinery.

Food donations can be left at the memorial hall, St Oswald’s Church in Askrigg and Tasty Macs in Richmond.

The coordinators say they do not need clothing at the moment but this may change.

Money can be donated by clicking here.

Alternatively, cheques can be posted to: Arkengarthdale Rd, Reeth, Richmond DL11 6QT.

They should be made payable to Reeth Memorial Hall and be marked with a phone number on the back and the reference ‘flooding’.



  1. The way our communities have come together is fantastic, but where is our MP.
    There’s only one answer to this – NOWHERE TO BE SEEN.

  2. Toni Calvert should be made aware that the army personnel who came to help were volunteers who had asked to join in the clear up effort. We have photographs of the hard work they did clearing debris and organising sandbagging in case of further flooding. Let’s all pull together by all means, but not criticise the people who come to help us

  3. The army personnel who came to help were volunteers who had asked to join in the clear up effort. We have photographs of the hard work they did clearing debris and organising sandbags. By all means let’s pull together but don’t criticise the people who come to help us.

  4. Are volunteers who can help clear up welcome to come to the Hub? No specific skills but hardworking.

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