Residents leading Swaledale and Arkengarthdale relief effort welcome belated help

Photo: Guy Carpenter.

Residents say the district council has belatedly stepped up its efforts to provide support and help to remote communities hit by this week’s flooding.

Richmondshire District Council staff have today worked with residents at Reeth Memorial Hall to complete a mapping exercise to ensure all households living in remote areas of the Dales have been visited.

Resident Sarah Hackett, who is helping to coordinate the relief effort from the memorial hall, said: “Officers from Richmondshire District Council have come today and seen for themselves the scale of things, and they’re now trying to put some resources in place.”

Housing those whose homes are uninhabitable is one of the issues the district council officers have been able to help with.

Residents are expecting members of the county council’s major incident response team to arrive in Reeth tomorrow.

Resident Richard Gale said: “It’s a little weird that we are still and having to provide a 24-hour relief effort but hopefully there will be some kind of handover tomorrow.”

While the efforts of the local authorities have been questioned, residents say the support of local and national businesses has been staggering.

“It’s difficult to list them all but for example I went to Tan Hill and they wouldn’t let me leave without £1,000 in cash to help.”

Tesco and Morrisons in Ripon have also made generous donations, while Rodbers of Richmond has sent two wagon loads of equipment and materials to help.

Power tools and equipment such as wheelbarrows are being distributed, wheel volunteers are working hard to feed the residents cleaning up after the flooding.

Richard said they had received so many offers of help and support that they had not been able to respond to all, but were working through the list.

“We had a chap from Northamptonshire get in touch to say he had two diggers that he could put on a lorry and get up here,” added Richard.

North Yorkshire County Council said volunteers from its resilience and emergencies team had been on the ground since the rain fell on Tuesday night.

They set up a rest centre on the night and have been out in towns and villages offering information and signposting people in need to help, working with Richmondshire District Council.

The county council said volunteers from its Major Incident Response Team and Ready for Anything, supported by the British Red Cross, were today talking talking to residents in Bellerby and Reeth.

County Councillor Don Mackenzie, Executive Member for Access, said: “We are proud of the spirit and resilience our communities and council staff have shown in their rapid, dedicated response to this unusually severe weather.

“We are doing everything possible to support the communities in practical ways. Alongside our focus on the roads we are coordinating our army of volunteers. They have been out this week and are out again today helping us to understand the personal impact on householders, so we can work with partners to address as many problems as possible.”

Ready for Anything volunteer Catherine Iveson has been supporting people in her home town of Leyburn and in Reeth since the rain on Tuesday afternoon.

“I’m always happy to help someone out if they are struggling,” she said.

“On Tuesday I went to see people I know who have been flooded before and again their house was wet through. They’d had water up to their waist and had lost everything. So I went back with my cleaning stuff and plastic bags to help them. What they really wanted was some moral support at that point, and tea and coffee and some food.

“I got involved with Ready for Anything because I wanted to give something back. People have troubles going on in their homes, their lives and it’s something practical I could do. We’re here this week to signpost people to the help that’s available via Richmondshire District Council and the County Council.”

Site meetings have taken place today between the County Council and contractors with a view to progressing temporary and permanent solutions.

The county council has reiterated that where roads have been closed on safety ground it is important that people respect those closures and, in the interests of their safety and that of the travelling public, do not interfere with signs or barriers.

As extra mobile household waste recycling unit will be in Reeth on the village green on Saturday from 9am to 1pm for residents to get rid of damaged property once they have spoken to their insurance companies.

Find out more about the Ready for Anything volunteers at https://www.northyorks.gov.uk/ready-anything-volunteering.