Floods: could it happen again?

. The storm drains on South Bay Beach.
. The storm drains on South Bay Beach.

A call has been made to prevent a repeat of Scarborough’s burst drains and broken roads caused by the flash floods.

The call comes as Yorkshire Water is being questioned over its claims that the 5ft by 3ft storm overflow gate at South Bay actually opened to take away the pressure that turned streets into rivers.

Ramshill road damage after the flooding

Ramshill road damage after the flooding

Cllr Janet Jefferson, who represents the areas worst affected, has called for more effective action after homes and businesses were very severely flooded and roads were ripped up.

In 2012, Yorkshire Water closed off part of the seafront as part of a two-year £40m works to prevent such problems.

Yorkshire Water had embarked on a major project to improve bathing water to the town’s beaches.

This included installing a massive underground storm storage tank at the Toll House Pumping Station in Marine Drive which has the capacity to hold four million litres of water.

Yorkshire Water told this newspaper in 2012: “The new cylindrical underground storm system will hold a massive 4,000 cubic metres – or four million litres – and will help the system cope with the extra demand created during periods of heavy rainfall.”

The work took two years to complete and lead to major roadworks and a one-way system in the town.

At the time, residents were told that the work was worthwhile as it would also provide the cleanest waters in Europe. Since then South Bay has had to display water quality warning signs, without any explanation as to the cause.

In calling for action to prevent another such incident, Cllr Jefferson said: “I’m just concerned for the town more than anything. I just hope that we won’t get it again.

“I want to know if anything else can done to prevent this.

“The overflow outlet is an asset of Yorkshire Water and Scarborough Borough Council monitors the sand levels to make sure the valve is free to operate.

“Making sure this storm valve is activated has been foremost in the minds of myself, residents and traders of the South Bay for many years and indeed our former Technical Services Department were always contacted following flash floods and high tides.”

Despite Yorkshire Water’s insistence that the huge overflow door opened, questions locally still surround whether only the 18in valve door opened not the main 5ft door, which, if it had opened, would have left a very deep and obvious channel in the sands below the Grand Hotel.

The two-hour torrent last week turned roads into rivers, flooded properties, cars were stranded in pools of water and in some cases roads cracked and tarmac broke away.

Yorkshire Water insists the overflow valve worked as it should during the storm.

Paul Carter, political engagement manager at Yorkshire Water, said: “Our monitoring information shows that our sewers, pumping stations and emergency overflows all operated as they should during the heavy rain in Scarborough last week.

“We have been out to check the flap valve near Valley Road and have confirmed that it is opening freely and that the chamber is free of any blockages and therefore operated as it should have during the storm. There is no evidence that it failed to operate.

“Unfortunately, in some rare instances where there is very heavy rainfall in a short space of time, the intensity of the rainfall can exceed the designed capacity of the drainage network.

“All our assets were operating at full capacity during the storm, but the exceptional level of rainfall meant that they were unable to keep up with flows. Following the heavy rain we will be visiting customers that reported flooding and carrying out camera surveys of our sewers to ensure that the rainfall hasn’t caused any blockages or damage to the network.”

Some people have blamed blocked drains for flooding throughout the town and call for work to be carried out to unclog them, as used to happen.

• Floods – pages 12-13 for more coverage.