“Over Christmas, everyone’s watching the BBC.”
Boxing Day for most of our interviewees was a happy day that was only gradually interrupted by the slow filtering through of the news that York was being affected by the floods. Many people had gone to friends and family for Christmas, and the only connections they had to see what was going on in York were on their TV screens. A few of our interviewees mention one image in particular, of Clifford’s Tower with the floodwaters turning Tower Street into a moat, that they saw on the BBC news or on the BBC website.
In this clip, Beth describes seeing the news from her parents’ home and her feelings on learning her student property was in the floodzone.
The news spread quickly. People who weren’t watching the news at the time were alerted by friends on social media or by text, especially those who lived in York. Some of our interviewees who had lived in York a while admitted they did not expect the flooding to be as bad as it was. They were used to floods, the Ouse flooded regularly. They didn’t expect the floods to be as severe as they were, and they didn’t expect the Foss to flood.
The people we talked to who lived near the river were, if not more prepared, at least more anxious. Will remembers monitoring the Environment Agency website over Christmas, checking on the flood warning page.
As Boxing Day went on the extent of the flooding grew more apparent. The news had spread throughout York; many people were watching TV, monitoring social media and refreshing the Environment Agency’s website. People who were out of the city were keeping an eye on the situation from a distance, beginning to appreciate that this flood was worse than most. In York, some of our interviewees decided they wanted to see the situation for themselves and had walked down towards the water’s edge.
Some people were stuck away from home, knowing their properties were in danger. James recalls his panicked journey home on Boxing Day evening.
Some themes that have come through in our interviews so far are a sense of shock at the suddenness of the flood and its scale, and a shared experience of watching the flood unfold. Although our interviewees were scattered through the country on Boxing Day they were watching the same pictures, and many of the same thoughts were going through their minds.
Were you affected by the 2015 floods? What were your memories of that day? If you’d like to talk to us, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.