Developing

I was there... the week York went underwater

When the Mayans were drawing up their calendar during the Mesoamerican days of yore, somebody might have wanted to warn them that their predictions were around three months off schedule.

Dramatic though it may seem, I can think of no better word to describe the floods of September 2012 than simply 'biblical'. Having been a York resident for over four years now, I am no stranger to the River Ouse bursting its banks - in fact, many of York's 365 local pubs make the flooding somewhat of a gimmick. For example, The Lowther, located on the river, is plastered with photographs of previous inundations.

Such was the media frenzy of this relatively uneventful little city this year. Though it may have intrigued some, I couldn't help but find the flooding all a little too inconvenient. This year, the River Ouse went above and beyond its usual bank-bursting status despite what felt like typical winter rain, and quite simply, many local businesses found themselves trapped in the deluge.

As a cyclist you can imagine my horror when I discovered that my usual scenic shortcut to work along the River Ouse had been walled off with 'closed due to flooding' signs. Having spent a particularly gruelling week working overtime and not taking much notice of the weather outside, one morning I found myself channelling my inner Lance Armstrong, and the next, my inner Sharon Davies.

A double blow to my fellow colleagues and I was the phenomenal impact the floods had upon our working environment. Gone are the days when York's railway industry was the main source of its income - York is very much a tourism-based community, and, working in a museum myself, I found the subsequent days dragged on slowly as fewer and fewer tourists frequented the front gates, choosing instead to point their cameras at the growing ocean around them. Truly it wasn't only the newly-submerged businesses who suffered; we too lost out when entire conferences were cancelled due to the closure of the A1, amongst other travel nightmares.

Speaking of which, perhaps the most laughable of all those affected by this September's floods in York was its once famed railway industry - who would have thought that a little bit of rain could have cancelled so many trains? Hundreds of commuters were left stranded as the heavens continued to open, and I counted myself lucky I only had to bike my way around town, despite the slightly less clammy change of route.

For all its economic devastation, September's extreme flooding in York remained very much localised; such was my shock one morning when I rode into town, only to discover that the Lendal Bridge had now become an island in a bank-bursting of biblical proportions. I therefore can't really begrudge the weatherman the loss of a couch due to its decision to float out the front door. Mine, and many other residences, remained unharmed and truly it was only the areas surrounding the River Ouse which were affected.

Since Soggy September, the storm has now cleared and York is back to its chirpy, quiet old self. In hindsight, perhaps I should have taken the opportunity to kayak into work or pop out for a pint in the newly-refurbished Submarine Lowther. For now though, I just hope that next time the heavens open, I have more time to do my hair for the cameras.