Student Blog: York students experience the floods

Nigel's students at English Language Centre York describe what the flooding was like in January and how they volunteered to help locals at the time. They interviewed people who were directly affected, and returned to the affected areas a month later to see how the city has successfully returned to normal!  Read their first-hand accounts here:

During the flood

Sang Woo Lee from South Korea (January)

The rain fell continuously from Christmas until recent days. Many people struggled to get to shops to buy goods and also shops missed chances to sell products in the sales on Boxing Day and New Year’s Day.

We went to some flooded areas near the River Ouse and River Foss in York yesterday. These places have been severely affected by floods. The water level had risen up to the middle of many doors low down near the river so naturally many basements were flooded. When we were there, lots of victims, volunteers and public services were working to repair damaged houses and shops.

People were pumping water out from the buildings where sand bags had failed to stop the water from getting in. The most severe place is the point where the River Foss and River Ouse meet because water from the River Ouse had flowed up into the River Foss

Some places were flooded by the water such as the car park and garden near Skeldergate Bridge.

We saw a lot of rubbish in the streets that had come from many buildings which were affected by the water. It was so miserable: some victims had not only had to leave their houses, but also lost their furniture, electric gadgets and cars. They must be depressed about the loss of property and do not know when they will be able to lead a normal life. We hope the government provides financial compensation, help and support.

Wafa Almaki from Saudi Arabia, and Abdulrahman Almuhana from Kuwait (January)

We visited City Screen to see the river. It had risen up to the windows in the basement.

In addition, there are many shops that have been damaged by the flood and the river level is still high. We saw pumps taking the water out of some houses by the river. While we are walking we saw the garden near Skeldergate Bridge which looked like a swamp.

Our teacher told us that pumps to remove water from the river Foss barriers had been overwhelmed so the flood barrier had been lifted.  This meant water from the river Ouse flowed back up the Foss which burst its banks. We saw the barriers yesterday and the pumps are working now but the coach park is still flooded.

Faisal Alasmari from Saudi Arabia (January)

We saw many stores had closed and citizens had been evacuated. Many families have suffered losses caused by the floods. I noticed a lot of bad situations for shops in the city centre. Some community donation points have opened up for flood affected households to collect goods. I visited a British family who have been making meals for flood victims. There was wonderful social cooperation and interaction between families in York.

Volunteer work

Mansoor Bensarhan from Saudi Arabia (January)

I will write about volunteer work in York. I have done volunteer work to help people who have had damage in their houses and shops. I did volunteer work with a lot of people from the community near James Street.

When we arrived at the volunteer centre, we filled sandbags to protect houses from the water. There were volunteers who worked together to fill the sandbags, tie them up and load them onto a truck.

The flooding happened in York in December 2015, when we went out with our teacher from English Language Centre York to discover the places, streets, shops, houses which had been affected by the flooding.

York City Council had also erected sandbag defences. York has 2.5 miles of Flood defences, which were constructed between 1985 and 1995.


What is being done to help the flood victims in Yorkshire?

Raquel Andújar Galindo from Spain (January)

During the month of December, there were catastrophic floods in the North of England, seriously affecting Yorkshire.

A lot of people have had major problems due to the rainfall and the wind, causing big material damage to houses and shops, but the victims have received or are going to receive help soon.

When the streets and houses were flooded, the army helped with sandbagging properties and rescuing residents. Some people whose homes have been flooded are to receive a one-off payment £500 to help with the clean-up process.

A charity has urged people in York to donate items from their supermarket shop to a new food bank for people who need this kind of help. In York, the community has raised £90,000, including sports clubs, as volunteers across the region rally to help flood victims.       

Sunshine after the rain

Wafa Almalki from Saudi Arabia (February)

One month after the flood in York, we decided with our teacher, Nigel, to visit the same places which had been affected by the flood to see if there had been any improvements. During our trip, as we took photos of the river Ouse, we noticed that the river level had returned to its natural position and people had got back to their normal lives as if the flood had not happened in this city.

It has been reported that some companies like Nestle and members of the public have donated to the York Flood Appeal, which has been helping York residents affected by the flood. These funds have provided household items, such as furniture and electric device and also paid for extra heating and temporary accommodation. Some households were provided with food, drink and other supplies.

These donations made a huge difference and showed positive aspects of togetherness.


Raquel Andújar Galindo from Spain (February)

We had the opportunity of speak with the manager of City Screen in York in order to obtain more information about the floods which had happened in December.

She was very kind with us and told us that the cinema had not received any money from York Council. On the other hand, they were visited by the Council and people from the Environment Agency who wanted to know if they were fine or needed some help.

She told us that they are flooded frequently, so they usually check the level of the water in the river. When it rises, they have a plan and they are prepared to move things from under and in the basement to a safe place.

During the last flood, the electricity was switched off for 4 days, and consequently, they decided to donate their food to needy victims. Moreover, they lost some furniture like tables and chairs but nothing really valuable. They had to clean up the floor. In addition, the manager explained to us that the business has got insurance and they were able to claim for the damage.

City Screen are prepared for the floods and they try to keep everything under control. However the manager told us that some businesses in York had a lot of problems and they didn´t know how to deal with the flood.

Fortunately, City Screen has reopened so we can visit and enjoy this marvelous place.

Abdulrahman Almuhana from Kuwait (February)

We also went to a pub by the river to interview the manager. We knocked on the door, waited and were about to leave when she opened the door, so we asked her about what she had experienced during the flood.

“We were all dumbfounded when we saw it’’, she said. She meant that this was the first time that they had experienced something as bad as this. We asked her to explain what had happened and how she had dealt with it. She said that suddenly the river had risen, filling the rooms downstairs and almost reaching her home upstairs. She said that she hadn’t been able buy any food or drink, but she was not worried a lot because she was with her mother and daughter who is 20, so there weren’t kids or pets in danger. After that, she said that the brewery which owned the pub had insurance, so they could give her money to get the business back on its feet.

Eventually, the river level had subsided and she said everything was and hopefully would remain ok. She had felt depressed and sad at the time, but in the end everything was fine.

So guys if anyone is scared of coming to York do not hesitate, because everything is fine and York is back to normal and waiting to welcome you.

Thank you to our students who worked to help those who were affected by the flood! Click here to find out about English Language Centre York or contact us at [email protected] for information about our English language courses.

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