Tadcaster residents have described their hometown as ‘a war zone’ after the town’s only bridge collapsed and shattered their ‘life-line’.
The festivities were washed out within hours when churches, business, houses and medical centres in the town all suffered at the hands of the flood.
Following the destruction of the bridge, concerns over a gas leak forced many people to evacuate and abandon their homes, while those who remained faced a 30 minute power cut.
Resident and business owner Angela Rooke was amongst the crowds of people who watched as the town’s sole link was torn down on Tuesday December 29.
She said: “It was frightening, little bits of mace were falling off and then the bits falling off got bigger.
“We could hear pieces dropping into the water and we knew it was going.
“It was frightening, little bits of mace were falling off and then the bits falling off got bigger. We could hear pieces dropping into the water and we knew it was going. You just couldn’t believe it was happening, the worst part was when we smelt the gas and you just had to run.”Angela Rooke
“You just couldn’t believe it was happening, the worst part was when we smelt the gas and you just had to run.”
With the bridge destroyed, concerns have been raised over transport for people in the town, including how to get to work, school or to the doctors surgery.
Residents David and Wendy Binns live on the Eastern side of the bridge towards York and both use the link to commute to work.
Mrs Binns said: “It’s like a war zone down there, now the bridge has gone and I’m not surprised with the amount of water that went through it.
“What people on this side will have to do is drive out to Billborough Top and right round on the A64 and back into Tadcaster because there is no other way across the river.
“We have had lots of offers of help but we are not affected. People have rung me from all over the place to offer beds if we need one, I have had friends from Spain ringing to see if I’m ok.
“You feel guilty that you’re not affected because all these people who have been affected it will be a long time before they get back to normality.
On Tuesday evening when the bridge surrendered to the force of the river, Mr Binns had gone down to the scene to witness the chaos.
“I went down to see what was happening and the police were going round the estate adjoining ours evacuating the houses.
“Their faces were absolute pictures, they were in shock, people were hell bent on leaving the area, you could smell the gas and you could see the concern on their faces, they were stunned.
“They have said on the news that ‘a bridge has collapsed in Tadcaster but it’s not just a bridge in Tadcaster.
“It was utter shock and disbelief, it was very upsetting, it was a feature of the town. This is the town bridge, its a very sad thing for the town.”
The only doctors surgery in the town, Tadcaster Medical Centre was not able to escape the waters wrath either.
Practice Manager Sarah Botherway said: “On Saturday night the flood water came in and swept through the entire building.
“At the moment we have got one phone line a pad and a pen. We have had to remove all the carpets, we have lost all the paperwork and vaccines.
“It’s heart breaking but we are trying really hard and anyone who needs to see a doctor or see a nurse can do.
“We are not making the decision, we are not prioritising it is very much the patients choice, everyone who wants to see a doctor we are arranging that for them.”
While paperwork has been lost, Dr Botherway has reassured patients to the surgery that the protection of their data has not been threatened.
She said: “All our paper notes upstairs are undamaged what we are doing is making sure any paperwork that goes out in the bin is not patient specific.
“People don’t need to worry that their medical records are floating off down the river or in a skip in the car park, all patient records are safe and sound we are not letting anything leave the building unchecked.”
However, amongst the devastation there has been an undeniable sense of community spirit, with all town people helping each other to bounce back.
Dr Botherway said: “Essentially we shouldn’t even be able to do what we are doing but we have had an amazing amount of volunteers mopping and cleaning and getting us back on our feet.
“There must have been 20 or 30 people here helping for most of the day [on Monday]. There were children, elderly people and visitors here just for Christmas, there were armies of people.”
Mrs Binns added:”The camaraderie in the town, with people bringing cups of tea down for the police because they have been on duty for 24 hours, it has been incredible.
“The whole town has pulled together.”