WHITBY was under water on Sunday after a “freakish set of circumstances” saw the tide swell out of the harbour, cutting off parts of the town and flooding shops and businesses.
When a high tide of 5.8 metres rolled in at around 5pm, it was backed by the strong winds from the past couple of days sweeping water across New Quay Road.
Metal shutters were hastily put in front of the doors to some of the shops to try and stem the flow of water which was more than knee deep but it was too late for The George pub, theOxfam shop and Venus Trading on the other side of the harbour.
A Yorkshire Water pumping station next to the Station pub also came cropper when water got into the electrics causing it to catch fire and Trenchers fish restaurant had to close early and put sandbags at the door.
Day trippers had to wade back to their vehicles and at Sandsend waves were crashing over the road engulfing parked cars.
Police set up a road block at the mini roundabout between Station Square and New Quay Road and were sending cars back out of town as the route was impassable for a few hours.
It brought back memories of the last time Whitby flooded around seven years ago but some said they had never seen it so bad.
Steve Dungworth, a regular at the Station said: “The only thing I can think is we have had such strong north easterly winds and it has kept the tide back but now it has stopped it has pulled it back in.
“It is strange, you need a freakish set of circumstances for this to happen. I have only known it twice, the other time was in 2003.”
Andrew Waller, the landlord at the Station, added: “It floods nearly every year but never like this. If it had been raining it would have been a hell of a lot worse.”
The landlord of the George, Paul Clemitshaw, had to use a pumping machine to scoop buckets of sea water out of the pub.
He told the Gazette: “It has happened before but not very often, maybe every five years or so. We are controlling it, it floods the lowest level and we are pumping it out.
“We are geared up for it but it doesn’t do it any good. We will have to see how much damage there is when it dries out.”
Whitby’s fire crew were called out initially to deal with the water that was flooding Venus Trading and while they were there they were diverted to the pumping station.
Fire-fighters had to don rubber boots to tackle the fire which had broken out when the water tripped the electrics.
Chris Watson, station manager, said they had received a warning from the brigade control room that a high swell of about six feet was forecast.
He added: “I have been here 18 months but some lads have been here 10 to 15 years and say they haven’t seen it like this for about ten years.
“It is total swell and it will subside itself. We have been to Venus Trading, they had flooding in the cellar, then we got called to here and water has got in the electrics and short circuited the pump.
“We had difficulty accessing it because of the water and we didn’t know if the electrics were live so had to take precautions with the fire-fighters and put them in rubber boots.”