Two major rescue operations had to be launched this week to save motorists stuck in floods at the notorious A684 bridge at Morton-on-Swale, amid fears someone could die if further safety measures are not taken.

At the height of Storm Isha, five people and two dogs were rescued after two cars, a van and a HGV became trapped in floodwater early on Monday.

The alarm was raised at about 5am when specialist fire and rescue crews from Richmond and Ripon were sent to the scene.

William Herron, who was also called at 5am to help a friend stuck there, said: “She said the van had gone off the road because of the flooding. Fire and rescue crews got her out of the van with her dogs and I picked her up, she was very shaken up. I came to try and get the van out in my 4x4 but it’s too deep, we are going to try and get a telehandler.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Floods at Morton-on-Swale on Monday in the aftermath of Storm Isha

“I haven’t seen it this bad for a few years. This flooding does keep happening at Morton but it is mother nature, what can you do?”

Road closure signs were erected to try and stop people driving into floods and North Yorkshire Council and police urged drivers to take notice.

One woman who was rescued, Charlie Curry, told ITV Calendar News: “It was definitely a terrifying experience at the time.

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“But, I made it out alive and everyone’s alright. Just let’s see how the van’s doing.”

The road reopened for a time, but was closed again when Storm Jocelyn blew in late on Tuesday, with another rescue taking place the following morning. Three vehicles became stranded at about 5am on Wednesday, and fire crews from Northallerton had to wade into the floodwater to help the drivers to safety.

The incidents came amid repeated calls for better warning signs and flood prevention measures at the bridge, which has now been closed six times by rising water levels in recent months. 

Darlington and Stockton Times: Floods at Morton-on-Swale on Monday in the aftermath of Storm Isha

Scruton parish councillor Maurice Daley said: “We can’t leave it like this, something has to be done. There are questions that need to be asked and they need to be addressed.

“I have never seen this so bad, we want to know if flood prevention work has been carried out elsewhere on the banks on the River Swale that could be adding to the problems.”

Another resident said: “Something has to be done, even if signs are put up, sometimes people don’t see them and if it is dark they can’t tell how deep the water is. We are worried someone could be injured or even die if they get swept away.”

North Yorkshire Council has been under mounting pressure to take action at Morton on Swale. It did look at longer-term relief for the road, and the Morton Flatts Resilience Scheme report was produced in 2020/ 21. But it has never been made public and the council says it would need to be revisited, drawing up new costs and taking into account flooding events since it was originally put together.

Darlington and Stockton Times: Floods at Morton-on-Swale on Monday in the aftermath of Storm Isha

The bridge takes the main A684 road from Northallerton to Bedale, the A1 motorway and the Yorkshire Dales.

As the D&S Times reported last week, Northallerton Town Council has called on North Yorkshire Council to address the problems in the long term, and look at providing electronic signs warning if the bridge was closed in the short term.

North Yorkshire Council were contacted for comment.