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Towns left under water as flooding continues to cause chaos

Published 05/01/2016

A bus swept off the road by floodwater between Newton-on-Ouse and Tollerton, north of York
A bus swept off the road by floodwater between Newton-on-Ouse and Tollerton, north of York
The closed A923 Blairgowrie to Coupar Angus road in Perthshire as communities were warned more heavy rain across the UK could lead to further flooding

Towns were left under water and more than 20 school children had to be rescued from a stranded bus as flooding continued to affect parts of northern England and Scotland.

Communities in Yorkshire, the North East, Aberdeenshire and Perth faced new flood woes as the Met Office announced that December had been the wettest in a century, resulting in the flooding of around 16,000 houses.

Environment Secretary Liz Truss told the House of Commons that the Government would continue to do what it takes to get the affected areas up and running and prepare for future extreme weather.

Fire crews were called to rescue 26 school children from a bus this morning after the driver ignored a road closure sign between the villages of Tollerton and Newton-on-Ouse, just north of York.

North Yorkshire County Council said the road had been closed by the highways authority since the heavy rains and flooding after Christmas.

The pupils, who were travelling to Easingwold School, were rescued by firefighters and taken to the school or collected by parents.

Grace Abbott, 15, told the York Press that many of the younger children were crying and one girl cut her hand as she tried to smash a window.

She told the paper: "We felt the bus tilt and that's when water started gushing through the bus.

"Everyone ran across to the other side of the bus to stop us capsizing and tipping over.

"I thought we had to phone the fire brigade because there was no way we were getting out of there on our own."

Phil Benaiges, Easingwold School headteacher, confirmed that the emergency services and the school were informed about the incident by a student and praised the pupils for their "responsible and calm behaviour".

He said: " I understand that students were very supportive of each other, despite the difficult circumstances. We worked very hard to keep the relevant parents informed, of both the initial incident and when students were safe and sound."

The bus company, Stephenson's of Easingwold, said it had launched a detailed investigation with the council and the school and would interview the driver "at the earliest opportunity".

In a statement, the company apologised to the children and their families for the "unfortunate incident".

The council and the bus company said there were no reports of injuries. The children were given hot food and drinks and dry clothes and were offered counselling by the school.

A council spokesman urged drivers not to drive through road closure signs.

In Whitby, North Yorkshire, flash flooding closed a number of roads on Monday night, leaving the town virtually cut-off.

And in Scotland, residents in Aboyne and Inverurie, Aberdeenshire, spent the night away from their homes as water levels threatened their properties, while emergency services dealt with several flooded roads in Perth.

Tonight, emergency services across the North East said they were dealing with flood-related incidents.

The Environment Agency said it had closed all four flood gates at Morpeth, in Northumberland, and Northumbria Police warned drivers to take care on the roads after officers had to pull two cars from flood waters in Newcastle.

Durham Police warned that the River Wear was about to burst its banks close to the Radisson Hotel in the city centre following a day of heavy rainfall.

A week after a 300-year-old stone bridge at Tadcaster, North Yorkshire, collapsed, Ms Truss told the Commons that repairs - which will cost around £3 million and could take a year - were a "national priority".

She added the National Flood Resilience Review, which aims to improve protection, would ensure a scheme in Leeds, which was also affected by flooding over Christmas, would cope with new levels of rainfall being seen in the UK.

Ms Truss said rivers in Lancashire were at record levels after the wettest December on record in the North West and Yorkshire rivers, such as the Aire and the Wharfe, were up to a metre (3.28ft) higher than they had ever been.

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