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1st November to 11th November 2000.


Compiled from the Logbook notes of
British Civil Defence Officers:

Clive Phoenix MICD. Malcolm Pendrigh BCD. Roderick Jarvis FICD

Collated and Edited by P. Stanton MC., KS., MA (York), FICD-Dip (BM).


This rather extensive debriefing report records events as they unfolded for the British Civil Defence Rescue Boat Team, tasked to the City of York, during the Great Floods of the 1st to the 11th of November 2000. Despite all efforts, a debriefing report on a mission of this length and nature could not record every little detail or name many of the wonderful people we met or worked with. Furthermore, a number of peripheral events have been deleted due to their sensitive nature. In other cases omissions are due to logbook notes simply falling to waterlogged pieces.
Truly, the Great North Yorkshire Flood was a drama with a cast of many thousands.
Our work and consequently this debriefing report only touches upon the very edges of the main theme, which was to intervene and limit the damage in the most meaningful way.

Patrick Stanton.
Director General
British Civil Defence

The British Civil Defence Team.

 Boat Crew.

Director General, Patrick Stanton (PS) Coxswain, from Boston, Lincs.
Senior International Rescue Officer, Roderick Jarvis, (RJ) No 2. Colwyn Bay, N. Wales.
Sub Officer, Geoffery Mabbott (GM) No 3 and Diver. Rushden, Northants.

Shore Base.
Sub Officer, Clive Phoenix (CP) Police/BCD Liaison. Haxby, Yorkshire. 
Team Member, Malcolm Pendrigh (MP). Llandudno, N. Wales.

British Civil Defence Headquarters (Yorkshire Desk).
Executive Officer, Evanthia Deligianni, MA Arch (York)., FICD.

BCD volunteers are all unpaid and undergo extensive professional training (usually at their own expense)
in all areas of rescue and emergency mitigation. In some instances this reaches to the level of
Disaster Management to United Nations (UN) standards. The Rescue Boat Team responding to the
North Yorkshire Floods is the most experienced in the ranks of British Civil Defence.

Local Knowledge.
CP, the local Sub-Officer lives in Haxby near York and has extensive knowledge of the affected area.
PS and RJ had served in York, Naburn and Selby during the major flooding of 1982 in the Rescue Boat "AXA". PS also had spent a year (1990) in York as a University Post-Graduate Student and had spent leisure time on the Rivers Ouse and Derwent.

The Work.
To carry out Forward Reconnaissance and Assessment Missions (R/A) in order to save life, prevent or limit suffering and to conduct damage limitation operations on behalf of the People of Yorkshire and the North Yorkshire Police Service who also serve them.

Land Rover and Equipment.
Land Rover 110 Defender Tdi, modified for flood work including a Warn Winch. It was also equipped with rescue tools, first aid kit, 2.5 Kva generator and 2 x 500v floodlights and a sectional ladder, a heli-lift stretcher and assorted splints, extra diesel, personal/team survival equipment, heavy tow rope, trolley jack, small tools and ration packs for 5 days, fire extinguisher. A 4hp, 12v battery driven auxiliary outboard engine for the boat was also stowed for emergency use.  Communications; three mobile telephones and two hand-held marine radios.

The Boat and Equipment.
Name: PATHFINDER.  A 4.5 metre Flood Rescue RIB made by FLATACRAFT.  Powered by I x 50 hp, 4 Stroke Yamaha outboard engine. Fuel Capacity 75 litres unleaded Petrol. Maximum Speed on dead waters 110 kph. Range on one tank of fuel, 200 Kms.

Full duplication of all spares needed to carry out running repairs to both boat and engine. Marine radio.
Stowed - ropes, anchor, grapple hooks, first aid kit, other small tools, flares, (smoke and light), fire extinguisher, additional life support items including extra torches, flashlights, flexi-floodlight and buoyancy aids, personal emergency location strobe-lights, ground to satellite emergency location transmitters. Navigation lights and radio aerial on stern A frame.
Twin axle break-back trailer with hand winch for fast road movement and easy launch and recovery of boat. Support tools and spare light bulbs for tailboard. Spare wheel, wheel brace and clamp.
Total weight (without crew) of Landrover with equipment plus Boat and Trailer 4.9 Tons.
Expected deployment time usually 5 days or 120 hours.
The emergency response to Yorkshire was twice that long, being 11 days or 264 hours.

Rescue Terms used in this debriefing report.

Live water.
Found around items where the electric current is active.

Dead water. Still Water.

Black Water, Water of any description that carries pollution either of organic or in-organic nature (Dangerous).

Racing water. A river in full flow or flood caused by large volume in narrow channels (Dangerous).

Dancing water. Where racing water flow meets obstructions (seen or unseen) which causes confused waves and eddies (Dangerous).

Snares. Underwater obstructions e.g., barbed wire, fences, gates and posts, road signs, vehicles (Dangerous).

Undulation. Where uneven land surfaces cause water to vary suddenly in depth (Obstructive).

Hangings or Hangs. Obstructions that pose a threat from above, such as where water passes beneath objects that cause danger to the crew. E.g., bridges, trees, mooring cables.

Flots. Abbreviation of the word flotsam, e.g., large items floating on the surface of racing water, which may be hazardous to the boat. (Dangerous).

Wait-Com. Waiting for a job.

Move-Com. Being tasked for an immediate job.

Landi.  Land Rover Defender Tdi.

Bounce. Team going on a mission from Headquarters. 

Tasked.  Team responding to a call out at local level in the area of the emergency.

Sit-Rep.  A Situation Report.

Evac. Evacuation.

Cas/Vac. Casualty Evacuation.

Shore Party. One or more rescuers who stay with vehicle and equipment (security) and to assist with launch/recovery of boat, as well as liaison with the boat team and others who may be working the effected area.

Stag or stagged on. Keeping watch.

Reconnaissance and Assessment.  R and A (spoken) or R/A (written).

OPs. Operations.

The events leading up to British Civil Defence (BCD) involvement in the recent York Floods began on Monday, 30/10/2000, when Director General Patrick Stanton (PS), and Sub Officer Clive Phoenix (CP) attended a Basic Trauma Life Support (BTLS) Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) course at the Tees, East and North Yorkshire Ambulance Training Centre, Middlesborough General Hospital, Cleveland.

Having encountered a third of a metre of surface flooding on the A19 road on the way to Middlesborough from York, it soon became apparent that unless there was a very sudden long-lasting Indian Summer, things were going to get very difficult. The only question was how soon?

The weather continued to deteriorate with heavy rain dominating every outside activity and by the end of the day on Tuesday 31/10/2000, The Director General PS told CP to prepare for a call-out to York. PS then headed for home in Southern Lincolnshire to place the BCD Rescue Boat team and equipment on standby.

Wednesday 01/11/2000.
PS contacted CP for a Sit-Rep and to let him know that everything was ready for a bounce to Yorkshire. He then instructed him to inform York City Council's Flood Control Centre (YCFCC) that a BCD Rescue Boat Team with flood rescue equipment plus the associated ancillary equipment, was ready to deploy in response to a phone call from them.  They were also to be informed that it would take the team three hours to arrive on scene from time of call out. CP carried out the instruction and informed YCFCC, (Mr Ray Chaplain) of the situation. He was pleased with the information and asked for contact names and numbers to add to his operational wall chart. CP gave them to him and then asked for a current Sit-Rep. He was told that although the situation was serious, it was not yet critical and at that time they still had the situation in hand.  They would not hesitate to call on BCD should things get worse. CP then contacted PS to confirm the information had been passed on and then gave him the updated Sit-Rep.

It was then back to Wait-Com. It was the same pattern of delay as that which had taken place during the June Floods, which had affected Yorkshire. On that occasion BCD worked in the Todmorden Flood Incident and in the Esk Valley. 

The Beginning.

Thursday 02/11/2000.
The situation deteriorated further following heavy rain during the night and the following morning. At 10.30hrs, after listening to the latest reports on Radio York, CP went on a R/A of York City Centre and the Outer Ring Road to confirm the situation for himself. It was as bad as the reports had suggested and indeed was getting worse. He arrived back home around lunchtime. At 15.00hrs, he went for another R/A to find no further areas were flooded as yet, but the highway situation was slowly becoming worse.


During this time PS called for an update. CP gave him a Sit-Rep in brief and would follow it up in full on his return home. PS then instructed him to contact Mr Chaplin and ask him for his assessment and also find out where he would like BCD to deploy to should they be called out to assist. On returning home, CP once again contacted YCFCC and spoke to Mr Mike Cavanagh (Operations Officer) and explained the situation with reference to the BCD team. There was momentary confusion and surprise, but it was soon put right by one of the female operatives who drew his attention to the Operational Wall Chart with the teams' details on it.
He was pleased and surprised and said that if called, we would be deployed at Fulford Road Police Station, York.

CP acknowledged the information and then asked for a Sit-Rep, only to be told what he already knew; that the situation was deteriorating rapidly and it was no longer a case of if, but when! CP thanked him for the info, rang off and immediately contacted BCD Director Generals Office (Yorkshire Desk) to bring them up to date with the situation.

18.30hrs, Move-Com. CP received a call from Mike Cavanagh, asking if the BCD Rescue Boat Team could be at Fulford Road Police Station for 22.00hrs. CP confirmed it with PS and then gave YCFCC confirmation that the team was on its way. PS called shortly afterwards to say he was mobile along with the boat to York. At 19.30hrs, CP received a further call from PS to say he was delayed in heavy traffic due to two Road Traffic Accidents (RTA's) on the A1 near Doncaster.

Silver Operations, York.
21.30hrs, CP reported in person to Fulford Road Police Station and was escorted to Silver OPs (Flood Control), which was a hive of activity. (Officer in Charge was Superintendent John Lacy). In the middle of this scrum was a Police Inspector who was directing operations. CP was introduced to him and immediately given a brief rundown on the situation. The Inspector then introduced him to a Captain Steve Potterton (Military Liaison) who was responsible for tasking and directing attached units on the ground.
The Captain gave a longer briefing.

Silver Operations, Fulford Road Police Station at this time consisted of:

A Senior Police officer in charge with a small staff.

Reps from the other Emergency Services, (Fire and Ambulance)

2 Reps from Military Liaison – 1 Commissioned Officer + 1 NCO

2 Reps from the York District Council

2 Personnel from the Environment Agency present at various times.

York's Area of Responsibility (AOR.) covered not only York City but also outlying areas from as far away as Malton in the north to Selby in the south with all the villages in between, and they were struggling for equipment and manpower. It was apparent to the Captain that should the worst case scenario occur, the area would be in serious trouble. BCD was the only boat team that they currently had in the area. A Police River Team was on their way.  There were also unconfirmed reports of a Fire/Rescue Boat already on the river, and rumours that an International Rescue Corps (IRC) boat was operating independently of the Emergency Services in the Naburn area. The Captain had tried to get a boat unit from Topcliffe (Military Base) but had been so far un-successful, so the BCD team were very welcome and could be very useful.

As the Captain was giving the above information, two tasks came in, one from Northallerton (the main street was flooding due to the drains backing up), and the other was for Rawcliffe in York near the Mitre Public House, adjacent to the Shipton Rd.  It seemed the nearby Rawcliffe Lake had overflowed into Rawcliffe Beck ( Racing water) along side the Shipton Road that in turn had overflowed as black water into Furness Drive/Bowness Drive area putting many elderly people at risk.

Rawcliffe, York.
22.20hrs. CP received a request from YCFCC for BCD to attend Rawcliffe.
CP (now Police/BCD Liaison Officer) told them that the boat would be arriving in a few minutes and he would call him back.

At 22.25hrs, PS arrived with the Landi and Boat. CP gave him a very brief situation report at the same time as bringing in him to Silver Ops. Once there and the very quick introductions done, the question arose as to where the Rescue Boat Team should first be tasked, Northallerton or Rawcliffe. There appeared a certain amount of confusion as to who would be tasking them. To solve the problem PS told CP to contact YCFCC and ask if they minded if BCD did the Northallerton task first. They however insisted that their task was carried out first (Rawcliffe). So, having got the details from the councils man on the ground, Mike Horner at St. Leonard's Sq., BCD were to proceed to the Mitre Public House on Shipton Road, Rawcliffe. Here they would meet up with a group of council workers who had been placing sandbags in the area until they had been forced back by the flood. Once on the scene BCD were to take the boat along the front of the flooded bungalows mostly occupied by the elderly residents and ask them (a) if they wanted Evac?  (b) And if not, what did they want or need?

The cup of coffee given to PS by a Police Constable never reached his lips. Within just five minutes of arriving at Silver Ops, the boat had been tasked, even though the full team had yet to arrive. 
The route into Rawcliffe was straight through the City Centre with police escort and then out towards Shipton on the A19 road. On arrival at the scene the two officers met up with the council workers, who then informed them that they had been working in the area in the dark, when the water had risen very quickly. They had attempted to reach the elderly people in the bungalows but the water became too deep for them.

PS did a fast R/A while at the same time putting questions to the council workers. Specifically, which and how many houses were effected, the depth of the water, the distances involved and the number of occupants in the houses? He then decided where the boat would be launched from and put on his dry suit.
With the help of the council workers, the boat trailer was eased into the water and once the boat was floating, the trailer was pulled back on to land.  At this time the rest of the BCD team were still on route to York from Northants and North Wales.
PS worked the boat. CP carried out Shore Party duties.
 With several council workers aboard the boat, PS proceeded to call at each bungalow in turn to find out if the occupants wanted Evac or any other kind of help. None of the residents wanted to leave but they did want lots of sandbags. The next three hours mainly consisted of wading the boat backwards and forwards in the ever deepening, highly polluted (sewage and diesel oil), cold and undulating, dead water. Sandbags were delivered to where they were most needed. The night was windy, raining and it was very cold.
During this time, a sandbag dropped by a tired council worker damaged the fuel line non-return valve to the engine. This was part of the reason that the boat was being manually handled (waded by PS) instead of working part time under power.
In the meantime CP was stacking sandbags in flood threatened doorways of the (for the present) dry areas.
A young woman named Susan, who owned a local Pizza Shop, kept everyone fuelled with hot tea/coffee and burgers. PS was so busy he only managed to quickly drink half a cup coffee before further demands needed to be met.
Just after 01.00hrs, RJ and MP arrived. They had been delayed because RJ's car had struck an underwater object near York University, badly damaging one of his wheels and tyre. RJ immediately got into his dry suit and went to help PS with the work. MP assisted CP. 
The operation carried on until 03.00hrs, when the boat was recovered from the water. The repair to the fuel line connector on the engine was then carried out with the help of a local mechanic;
(The boat teams' hands were too numb to do this work due to cold).
The connector was replaced with a spare carried in the boat stowage box. Following this, the kit was packed away and the team returned to Silver OPs to be de-briefed. Eventually, the team managed to doze for an hour still in their wet gear in the night canteen at around 05.30hrs, on Friday 03/11/00. PS had now been working non-stop for 23 hours, RJ was little better with 19 hours under his belt. The Shore Party had worked for 18 hours (CP) and 17 hours (MP).

Friday 03/11/2000.
CP attended a briefing at 06.00hrs. The situation with the River Ouse was deteriorating rapidly and everyone expected the worst to happen. The only problem was understanding where?  And it just kept raining!
Following the briefing, the Landi, boat and trailer were given a thorough check over, after which at 09.00hrs the team adjourned for chocolate bars and coffee. At 10.00hrs, more vehicle checks were carried out and at 10.20hrs, CP took the time to write up the logbook. Between the hours of 10.30hrs and 13.00hrs, CP was detached from the team for urgent work elsewhere.

At 14.30hrs, PS and RJ went to an - all-responding services, contingency meeting - which attempted to plan for various scenarios. Half way through the session a Constable entered the room.

"Clementhorpe has just gone over", was all he said. The room emptied in seconds.

Clementhorpe. York.
15.30hrs, the team was tasked to Clementhorpe, to help those affected in the now flooded River Street, the block of flats called "Waterside" on Dukes Wharf and the flats on Bishops Wharf, where the River Ouse had over-topped its banks. This involved a "blue light" police escort with a convoy consisting of police, military and BCD vehicles. The road past Clifford's Tower, on Tower Street, was already flooding very quickly and had been closed to traffic.
The team set up forward base at the junction of Clementhorpe Street and Colenso Street ( Victorian Terraced Houses also with back alleys allowing limited access from the rear) and launched the boat towards River Street at 15.47hrs. PS, RJ and MP manned the boat and initially evac'd people who wished to leave from numbers 5,13,17 and 24. People in house numbers 12,16,17,20 and 25 just wanted assistance. Just 20 yards away the rising water in the river channel raced past with such ferocity and dance that surprised many of those who saw it for the first time.

Once River Street was cleared; the team then took the boat, in the evening darkness, down to Waterside Flats on Dukes Wharf. (Blocks of 4 storey flats built in the late 1980's and early 1990's). MP went into the flats to warn people, and escort them down to the Evac point. Here they were in most cases carried to the boat and ferried by PS and RJ to Clementhorpe Street or Darnborough Street, above the waterline.
During the next four hours, 109 people were evac'd by boat as well as one little boy separated from his grandparents, 3 dogs, 6 cats,  a parrot and one goldfish, still in its bowl (whose owner refused to leave without it ). Both officers spent most of the time in the water pulling the boat loaded with people, pets and luggage through the rising black (sewage) water.

Several North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue personnel also helped organise the Evac by wading in the water but they were limited in what they could do because they had no boat. However, they did do their job very well and suffered the cold polluted conditions along with the boat team. The job was nearly finished when further assistance arrived in the form of a Fire Service Team and a large soft bottom inflatable.

Press and cameramen were out in force along with Radio York. The rise of the waters, which had begun with amazing speed, had gradually slowed to a relentless up hill crawl that seriously threatened Colenso Street.
Water in this street had by now reached the 2-foot mark and was already seeping into people's houses. Generally there was a lot of confusion, some fear, shock, some misgivings and quite a lot of dry humour.
In amongst all this were one or two older ladies, doing the rounds with flasks of tea and coffee.
One elderly man evac'd with his wife stated that it was the Dunkirk spirit all over again.

The Police presence was impressive and effective. The soldiers also worked very hard. However, MP was given the job (in the flooded area) of helping an elderly couple to get their household belongings to an upper floor because the army could not help due to lack of personnel. By 19.50hrs PS decided that the BCD team had done all it could. Everyone who needed Evac had now been dealt with. Only a handful of resident had remained behind in their flooded homes.

19.30 hrs, GM arrive at Fulford Road Police Station with his diving gear.

Naburn Village
19.55hrs, the team was just preparing to move from Clementhorpe when CP received a call from Mike Cavanagh, YCFCC, informing them of the need for all boat teams to be at Naburn to assist in an evacuation – did they know? (No they didn't!)
CP informed him that the team was just leaving Clementhorpe to return to Silver OPs for a debriefing. The team would also pick up further information there.
They returned to OPs, via a circuitous route to avoid the many flooded roads. At 20.05hrs, while on route they received a call from Silver OPs asking if they knew of an emergency evacuation at Naburn and asking if the team could attend. CP passed on the message to PS who told him to reply that they were returning to OPs location for a de-briefing on the Clementhorpe job and further briefing regarding Naburn, as well as collecting GM.

20.10hrs, they received a call from Sergeant Larry Lawson, Royal Engineers, to inform them that they were to rendezvous with him by the Railway Bridge in Naburn. CP told him that they were on their way back to Silver OPs and that they would be with him as soon as they could.

20.15hrs, the team returned to OPs and after a 30-minute turn around they set off tasked to Naburn for a Reconnaissance and Assessment (R/A) job still cold and sweat-soaked wet. It was a 'blue light' police escorted run. Due to the flooding they once again had to take a long roundabout route. They got there just after 21.00hrs, but the Sergeant was not there to meet them, so they stopped between the bridge and the flood line and waited.

CP telephoned Silver Ops to get a Sit-Rep, but had difficulty raising people. He got through to York City Police Ops room, to confirm the telephone numbers he was using, and tried again, but still got no replies. He then went back down the road to see if anybody had arrived after them, but the road was deserted.  A little later, RJ went to check but there was no one there. He did though come back to the team with an offer of a cup of tea at a nearby cottage.PS and GM walked down the road to the cottage, leaving the team with the equipment.
GM came back a few minutes later with a brew for all, and to inform them that PS had undertaken a R/A on foot with the local man from the cottage. Professor Jim Matthews, from York University.

They had gone along a disused railway line (currently a very wide and solid cycle path) to see if there was a clear route into the village. It turned out there was because the two men made it down to Vicarage Lane and into the centre of the village where they met a number of residents. 
CP was still having no luck contacting people. All lines were permanently engaged. Finally, at 22.45hrs, while talking with Mike Cavanagh on the phone, The second mobile telephone rang. It was Silver OPs informing them that a mini task force was heading their way, consisting of Royal Engineers road/bridge laying unit and a Royal Engineers boat unit with a police escort. They had lost the BCD call sign and had got lost on their way to the RV, but they were now en-route, and would arrive in half an hour.
At 23.35hrs there was still no sign of anyone. At 23.40hrs a police car arrived, the police officers trying to tell the team that they (the team) were in the wrong place. They found this hard to understand because not only had they had a police escort to this location, but they were also near the Railway Bridge on the main road into Naburn. (The originally stated landmark).  The police officers were still trying to tell the team that they were in the wrong place when PS returned from his R/A. After some discussion the policemen contacted Silver Ops, who then re-routed the task force to the BCD team's location by the Railway Bridge. 

Had the task force used the small single track county lane, banked both sides at an angle of forty-five degrees, into the village that they were currently heading for, they would have found it very difficult to extricate themselves. Their way forward was effectively blocked by a very low bridge (flooded to the depth of one metre) that large trucks could not pass under. Nor was there any viable way they could have turned around. It would have taken them all night just trying to sort themselves out.

Eventually, the task force arrived at the BCD team's location. Soldiers and divers were seen in large numbers  There was also huge trucks carrying boats and road laying gear, six civilian coaches and a HM coastguard truck towing a massive RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat with twin engines) which, in its hurry to be first in line came close to barrelling into the flooded section of the road at some speed. It was an amazing sight especially as PS' Reconnaissance and Assessment had shown that the villagers did not want to be evacuated. The word "steady" had gone out of the window. It seemed that adrenaline and testosterone were firmly in control this night! 

01.35hrs, PS wrapped the job up. The team had carried out the forward R/A and had reported the information to Silver OPs, so BCD's job was done.

At 02.05hrs, BCD reported in to Silver OPs – there was lots of praise from the Police Officers and Army for job well done. The team then met representatives of both RNLI and HM Coastguard in the Night Canteen. Several of the personnel were full of their own self-importance. PS gently had to remind them that all boat teams were all only a very small part of a massive operation.
At 02.20hrs, a Royal Engineers Officer arrived to have a talk with the assembled boat teams.  He did not want to talk but to dictate! – He was trying to lay the law down about how he was in charge of all army boats and he did not want any civilian boat teams charging about and getting in his way. He went away with a different and chastened outlook on life after PS informed him about the reality of flood rescue work. He also pointed out to the young officer that on the BCD boat alone there was over a 100 years of combined experience, and BCD worked under police orders to carry out their work.  Also, the team was not in the habit of charging about anywhere! At 03.00hrs, the team dozed off to a wet but amused sleep on the night canteen floor.

Rawcliffe, York.

Saturday 04/11/2000.
07.00hrs to 08.00hrs, team members carried out vehicle and boat maintenance. This essential ongoing work is carried out throughout a mission both for safety and efficiency. A task was mentioned at 09.00hrs,
initially in two parts, firstly to carry out a rescue job at Rawcliffe, and then to go with an army team to conduct a flood defences R/A.
09.30hrs, The team was tasked back to the Rawcliffe area near the Mitre pub. The black water job was to carry out a one-person evacuation from 174 Shipton Road. On arrival at the location, they were then asked to evacuate from 168 followed by 154 and 156. In the meantime, the Army team arrived for the flood defence reconnaissance. Then a Council Liaison Team arrived.
Then came the police with a request that once this task had been carried out, that the boat crew should move
to the other side of the flooded area to assist two families to recover essential possessions from their properties. In the meantime, the boat returned with the occupants of No. 174, dropped them off and headed for No. 168.  At 10.35hrs,
Silver OPs called, asking for an Evac of a man from No.160 as well.
The boat arrived back on the Shipton Road with more people; PS informed the Police Inspector at the scene that there were two older ladies to be Evac'd whom he knew to have hypothermia. 

They also had a parrot that did not like to get its feet wet! Relatives were waiting for them all at the high water mark.
The water was now so deep in places that it was impossible for the boat crew to touch the road surface even when up to their necks in it. The Police Inspector sent for an ambulance, and until it arrived, the two Cas-Vac ladies were made comfortable in the Landi cab with the heaters on. When the ambulance arrived, they were transferred and taken to hospital for treatment. They were cheerful souls, with one telling the boat crew how she had been on the S.S. Oriana during the last war, which had to send out its lifeboat to rescue men from the sea.

11.10hrs, Silver Ops called requesting a Sit-Rep, CP brought them up to date including the fact that many
more people than first thought were requesting evacuation. So far the team had brought out about 35 people,
their luggage and animals from the black water.
With the exception of one house all properties to the right of the Public House were now empty.
Silver OPs informed CP that there was another boat on its way, ETA 30 minutes, and when it arrived they were free to leave the scene and help the army with their Flood Defence Reconnaissance (FDR).

At around this time, two staff orderlies (real characters) from the Fulford Rd Police Station turned up on the scene of operations with a load of food that they had acquired. This had been laid on courtesy of the Station Superintendent to keep everyone going.  A wonderful gift for a cold, wet and hungry team!

12.10hrs, the team found the time to take in to the flooded area the people who wanted to recover essentials from their properties (226 and 158) the first job was to the left of the Mitre and beyond a row of small shops. The second job was down to the right in the now Evac'd bungalows.  While they were doing this, the REME team who had been tasked for FDR was re-assigned to another location. The BCD team's task was completed by 14.10hrs and by 14.25hrs they were mobile towards OPs via Tesco's at Clifton Moor, for re-supplies of batteries and absorbent towelling.

15.10hrs, the team was back at Silver OPs, and helping PS to sort out his now very wet kit.
Every item of clothing he had with him was soaking wet either from perspiration or rain. He also knew he was suffering from the early stages of dehydration and hypothermia. He filled himself with hot sweet tea and then wrapping himself in a big coat went quickly to sleep under the Night Canteen table. CP went to OPs to be de-briefed. He informed both police and the military about their times of arrival and departure from the location and the numbers of people rescued and Evac'd.

After this, the team checked their equipment and then got some form of sleep in the night canteen. They were soon to be woken around 17.10hrs to the sounds of a strange conversation, with reference to 'health and safety' and 'qualifications and experience' – the person asking the questions wanted a conversation with PS at a later date? All the team can remember of this strange incident was that the guy was a Police Inspector (Mark Rhodes. Specialist Support?) and that he left his card with PS. Unfortunately this went through water melt down in the pocket of the Director Generals buoyancy jacket a short time later.

17.30hrs, OPs said that there were concerns for Selby and Malton, but there was nothing the team needed to do as yet. At 22.45hrs, CP and RJ attended an information update, York City was stable for the moment, but there were problems with Selby.


23.15hrs, the team moved to a new sleep/admin area on the second floor of the Police Station
(a very nice office with a carpet on the floor). PS and RJ found in the garage area a map making facility run by a very helpful, kind and enthusiastic Police Officer (TC Martin Hemingway) who supplied them with large-scale maps of both Selby and York. They were very valuable assets.
MP and CP stagged on at midnight just in case the team was tasked again

Sunday 05/11/2000.

01.45hrs, the team was tasked to go to Selby. The initial brief was that the Flood Bank by the B.O.C.M. animal feed plant on the outskirts of Selby on the A19 to the north was extremely unstable. The main threat came from the high tide, which was due between 02.00hrs and 03.00hrs. If the bank didn't hold, there would be major problems. Emergency evacuations would have to take place in Osgodsby and Barlby.
Due to safety factors Police Officers on the scene were being withdrawn due to the danger.
"Would the team go and have a look at it?"

CP collected the team from their various locations and passed on the initial brief while waiting for the police escort. Again it was a roundabout route due to the flooding, A64 Tadcaster, A162 Sherburn and A63 Thorpe Willoughby to Selby. It was 'blue lights' job and all in all the team made good time, arriving at the rendezvous in the Council Offices, Silver Ops, at Portholme Rd. Selby.

02.35hrs, both Senior BCD Officers went for a briefing. GM, MP, and CP did site stag in the very public car park. (1/2hr on, 1hr off). The Flood Bank was holding (Thank goodness!) due in no small part to the excellent work of the Army.
Continued to stag on.

At 04.40hrs, a message came in stating that the army was holding the breach for the moment. But things were touch and go!  The team remained on standby to immediately assist should things go pear shaped.

Between 05.00hrs and 07.30hrs both Senior BCD officers liased with Senior Police Officers in the OPs room, then after confirming a designated administration and sleeping area for the team, they turned in for a brief sleep.

At 12.15hrs, they were called into Ops for an update. The situation was looking better; the breached area had been sandbagged and was still holding.  The water was receding slightly and people might be allowed back into the northern area. PS was sure that on that basis the team would be tasked back to York very soon.

From 12.20hrs to 15.45hrs, team members were back with the Landi and boat checking and maintaining the gear. Around the Council Offices the car parks resembled something from a war zone. 
Army trucks and ambulances of all shapes and sizes were parked in every available space. Soldiers were everywhere.  "Pathfinder" was the only boat on site.

Lights and sandbags.
During the next 3-½ hrs, the team was tasked to do a number of things. The main job being to set up their emergency lighting equipment in the Council Depot just across the road from OPs behind Tesco's, so that volunteers could continue to fill sandbags
(The mains electricity had been knocked out by the flooding).
The people of Selby really did answer the call for help that went out over Radio York.
They turned up - young and old, before going to work, during their lunch break, and before going home from work - with their shovels and asking where the sandbags were being filled. They all wanted to do their bit.
MP also managed to obtain 5 x 1-gallon fuel cans from the council and enough petrol from the police to top up the boat and generator tanks.
CP also acquired 5 x fluorescent jackets from OPs, which were most welcome. 16.00hrs, the team got a quick meal of sandwiches. 16.20hrs, PS got a ferry system working to supply the volunteers filling sandbags with hot brews and food. Apparently there had been no system organised to look after them or the lone council worker, who worked with his fork lift truck like a man possessed to keep the army trucks filled with pallets of sandbags.

17.30hrs, GM had to return home. His firm would not allow him time off work, - he would be missed.
He had worked really hard throughout the long weekend.

© British Civil Defence

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York Flooding Part 2

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