FIRE crews battled throughout the day to stop water flooding into the Friarage Hospital at Northallerton as the Sun Beck burst its banks.

Two heavy duty pumps were brought in to force thousands of gallons water away from buildings, but three operating theatres and the occupational therapy department were closed down. Ten operations were cancelled.

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But water pumped away from the hospital helped cause chaos in the town centre. Several businesses were flooded and part of the High Street was closed off as traffic fought through the water.

Bianca Smithson, of Visage Beauty, said:” It was a nightmare, we came in this morning and there was a trickle outside, then within minutes water was up to the door. We’ve been mopping up. You can see the hospital is a priority but unfortunately it has come this way.”

Fire crews set up a kilometre long pipeline to take water into another stream, Willow Beck, on the other side of the town.

David Pitt, of North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue, said: “I have been here 13 years and I have never seen it like this. Our main problem is trying to keep water from the back of the hospital building which is where the main operating theatres are. This is our main priority.

“The hardest part is finding somewhere to send the water and we are working with the Environment Agency. This has been a difficult operation because of the sheer volume of water.”

Across the County 26 schools were closed with Hambleton and Richmondshire particularly badly affected, 50 roads were also closed including the at B6274 at Gilling West the A6108 at Skeeby, Northallerton Road at Brompton, the A165 at Scarborough, and Skeldergate in York. Train services on the East Coast mainline and cross country services were delayed by up to 90 minutes and passengers were advised to check websites.

The Northern Echo: GRIM CONDITIONS: Medical staff look out of a window over the beck at the Friarage hospital, in Northallerton, as the heavy rain continues

Mike Roberts, of North Yorkshire Highways said: "It has been a difficult day, there has been widespread disruption. We are appealing to drivers to plan their journeys, take more time and do not go through road closures. Almost everywhere has been affected, but the area around Northallerton is particularly bad.

Chief Superintendent Sue Day, of North Yorkshire Police, has been coordinating the multi agency task group, she said: “We are all working hard to get the road networks opened up and to help people to protect their property from flood water. We do not believe the flood situation is anywhere near as bad as what we experienced in September.

Sandbags are being offered to residents across the county through district councils. Hambleton District Council’s leader Neville Huxtable said:“We are doing our best to help people help themselves. We have put on extra shifts to just fill sandbags – our men will work round the clock to try to help protect people’s homes. By creating stores across the district home owners can collect bags themselves allowing our men to concentrate on the emergency cases.

But Jim Boyd, of Water End, Brompton, near Northallerton, said more should be done as he sandbagged his home for the thirtieth time since 2000 when his home was flooded.

“The beck has burst its banks again and we just have to try and cope ourselves. We’re hoping overnight we can keep the water out, but you get no real help.”

The Northern Echo: TRICKY CONDITIONS: Flooding in Friarage Street, Northallerton

The Environment Agency has 18 flood warnings in place across North Yorkshire, with more rain forecast overnight emergency services are warning people to monitor the media and their web sites to get the latest information.