(Via Yorkshire Post) A Bus which got stranded in floodwater in North Yorkshire this morning was carrying 30 schoolchildren and had passed three signs warning the road was closed, it has been claimed.
The childre were travelling to school on their first day back after the Christmas floods and were left trapped waist deep in muddy water for 30 minutes before being rescued by firefighters.
A child on the bus, who did not want to be named, said: “The water came in really quickly. Most people were crying and a lot of people were screaming.
“We saw the water start to come in but we didn’t think much of it at first and we just moved our bags off the floor. Then it started to come in quicker and the water was up to our waists.
One child on the bus said many of her classmates were crying and panicking as the water rose inside.
Emergency crews were called to the road between Newton-on-Ouse and Tollerton, north of York, to help passengers from the vehicle.
North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue said officers at the scene requested swift water rescue teams to help with the evacuation.
“I was carried out and some people were given piggy backs. We were put in bus provided by the fire crews.”
She added: “I didn’t cry, I tried to keep smiling but I was a bit nervous.”
The father of the stranded schoolgirl, who didn’t want to be named, went to pick his daughter up from the bus and passed three signs that said the road was closed and indicated flooding.
He said: “When I went to pick my daughter up, I passed two signs that said the road was closed and a third sign which said “flood”.
“I’ve lived in Newton-on-Ouse for a long time and know the road very well. You could see that the driver has slipped off the road on the S-bend and down into the ditch.
“The ditch is quite deep and the water was halfway up the side of the bus.
“The water on the road was at least ten feet deep and all the surrounding fields were flooded.
“I’m assuming that he didn’t want to go another way - if he’d gone on a detour to avoid the road it would have taken him an extra 15 minutes.”
Explaining how he discovered his daughter was on the bus, the man said he had heard the fire engine close to his house.
He said: “I actually heard the fire engine as my wife was leaving the house to take our son to the bus stop and thought to myself it was strange - we live in a little village and rarely hear fire engines.
“Then somebody told my wife at the bus stop what had happened and we rang our daughter and realised what had happened.
“Eventually, I arrived at the scene and went to collect my daughter who was sat in a second bus - I think provided by the RAF.
“There were fire crews, ambulances and police at the scene.”
He added: “My daughter was alright but I think she was putting quite a brave face on it. She was quite shaken up by it.”
“We jumped on the seats and everybody started to panic. The water was brown and horrible.
“One girl even broke the back window with her hand and cut her wrist but the bus driver told us not to get out.
The youngsters waited on the packed bus, heading to Easingwold School in York, for half an hour before fire crews attended the scene and started to evacuate the children.
The 12-year-old schoolgirl said: “The firemen calmed us down and got the people who were crying off first.
Separately, it was claimed today that as many as a thousand businesses in West Yorkshire may have suffered losses due to the floods in the county over the festive period.
West Yorkshire Police said in a statement that the true picture of the damage done was only now starting to emerge after “the worst flooding to hit parts of West Yorkshire in 70 years”.
The force said in a statement: “The costs of the infrastructure known to have been damaged, as well as to homes and businesses, is likely to run into many millions of pounds.”
It has emerged that as well as the bridges at Elland and Linton, the Crowther canal and Copley bridges suffered damage.
West Yorkshire Police said: “Some schools in Calderdale have also experienced disruption in commencing the new term.
“People returning home from seasonal breaks to find damage, has seen the number of homeowners affected continuing to rise.
“for business remains a key priority, with manufacturing and other businesses in Leeds and Calderdale particularly badly affected, and numbers potentially approaching a thousand when local businesses occupying multi-tenancy properties are taken into account.”
Yesterday, the West Yorkshire Local Resilience Forum, made up of the emergency services, all five local authorities and other key partners, met up to co-ordinate the recovery effort.
The police statement said: “Local authorities are continuing urgent work with the Environment Agency and other partners to assess the damage and identify those affected and are appealing for anyone who has not yet been in touch to contact them.
“to quantify the numbers and financial impact of the floods more accurately are an important focus for the coming week so that help can be directed to where it is most needed - as well as keeping the public informed.
“We remain vigilant in monitoring the present situation and weather forecasts.