Floating trees, flooded pubs, travel chaos – and the Environment Agency say the River Wear won’t even reach its peak for at least another day…

Durham is on flood alert after torrential rain has caused widespread flooding across the city.

The Environment Agency has currently issued 39 Flood Warnings and 47 Flood Alerts across Yorkshire and the northeast.

Durham Police are advising people to only make essential journeys and to take alternative routes rather than risk driving through flooded areas. 

With heavy rain overnight and unrelenting downpours throughout the day, the River Wear has well and truly burst its banks, with fast torrents of water and trees shooting through Elvet Bridge.

Due to the height of the river and the water on the carriageway, Framwelgate Waterside in the city centre has been closed.

Framwellgate Waterside this evening

The flooding follows days of high rainfall, leading to the cancellation of the much-anticipated ‘Novice Cup’ at the weekend.

The event, for which fresher rowers have been preparing all term, has only actually taken place on the scheduled weekend once in the last five years due to weather conditions.

“We were pretty gutted about having to cancel it,” said Jemima Benstead, an organiser of the Novice Cup, “We did so on the Friday night, as the river level had risen since that afternoon above the marked level for crews being allowed on the river. We had wanted to wait until the morning to make the call, but the river was only going to rise from the rain upstream.

“When the river is really high and the stream really fast, it makes it too dangerous for crews to be on the river – especially novices who have only been rowing about a month – it would be a nightmare with turning and lining up to race, and the whole event would get really delayed, which is difficult to run when all the races are tight as it is.

“It’s extremely annoying for us and all the preparation we had to do – but more upsetting that the event didn’t get to run for all the novices.  It was a hard decision but in hindsight a good one.”

And it doesn’t look as though rowers will be back training anytime soon, with boathouses flooded and vast amounts of debris floating rapidly downstream.

‘Boathouse’ itself is underwater for the second time this term.

There has also been chaos on the roads and rail networks. Many visitors to Durham are now unable to leave after their trains have been cancelled.

One student, travelling from Manchester to Durham last night, reported, “It was a nightmare. The trip took over twice as long as it should have done, with 2 hours standing on a cold platform in York. Every train that came in was over an hour late.”

The A19 sliproads onto Durham road have been closed in both directions. For the latest road updates click here.

Elvet Riverside

With the River Wear set to peak on Tuesday night at the earliest, the disruption is predicted to continue.

One traffic officer in Durham was overheard joking to another: “It’s hard to ticket cars when they’re floating down the road.” 

This morning the Environment Agency said the country was facing a flood crisis and has declared a national emergency.  Recent high winds and heavy rain, which began on Saturday afternoon, have left three people dead, flooded hundreds of homes, closed major transport routes and forced numerous motorists to abandon their vehicles.

Fylingdale in North Yorkshire was reportedly the wettest place in the UK the last 24 hours, with five inches of rainfall.