In Pictures: York Floods Monday 28th December 2015

So I went out a little earlier today and found some even better pictures of the floods.

York floods inventive boat made of oil drums 2015 paddled with shovels spades shopping.
These two lads made this boat out of oil drums lashed together, and they are paddling with garden shovels and are on their way to the supermarket.
York floods inventive boat made of oil drums 2015 paddled with shovels spades shopping.
Another good picture of the boat made of oil drums.
York floods 2015 rescue team in action checking safety flooded underwater disaster pictures
Across the road, a rescue team is going door to door. Phone lines are down across the city, so elderly people are particularly vulnerable.
York floods 2015 rescue team in action checking safety flooded underwater disaster pictures
A much better, more in focus picture of the heroic rescuers, although this one makes it look like they’re on dry land rather than wading through 2 feet of water. They are dragging a boat around with them but I was struggling to get a good shot as I was about 100 feet away and my zoom lens was extended as far as it would go.
York 2015 floods people affected trolley baby possessions.
These people found an abandoned shopping trolley on the street and put their baby and possessions in it before walking past this trolley park of distinctly different trolleys. Still the family looks pretty happy. I guess you would if you spent ages walking around holding stuff then found a trolley.
York historic building damage rowntree wharf floods 2015
Rowntree Wharf, a historic 19th Century building, is underwater and the road has become a river.
York historic building damage York walls floods 2015
The water has travelled higher than the eathen mounds, which are remains of the Roman walls, and has reached York’s Medieval City Walls in places.
York historic building Red Tower damage York historic building floods 2015
This old building, called ‘Red Tower’ was built in 1490, and marks the end of the walls on this side of the city.

After yesterday’s trip around town, I was left worried about the rabbits in pets at home on Foss Islands Road because, while the water hadn’t reached them, it had cut off the whole shopping area from being accessed.
Today, I am pleased to report that the rabbits are all safe and snuggled, some brave members of staff went to Pets at Home today and opened up the shop, and I have photos showing they’re all warm and dry and well-fed:

pets at home safe buns york floods
The bunnies at Pets at Home are being looked after by staff members who braved the floods to ensure the pets all got fed.
york floods 2015 rabbits pets affected
The bunnies at Pets at Home look happy and relaxed in their warm, dry housing, thanks to the amazing effort staff made to travel to and open the store today.
York floods 2015 expensive looking car underwater
In other news, a very expensive looking car with the back window left open for some reason. I hope the council don’t enforce parking tickets until the waters recede.

In Pictures: The York Floods 2015, Sunday 27th December

I went around the town on Sunday 27th December (yeah it took me FOREVER to upload these to WP) and just took some photos of the damage and of the things I saw. We even saw some looters trying to get into some abandoned vehicles, but they ran away when they saw me taking photos of nearby things with a professional looking camera (pro-tip – don’t photograph the looters if they’ve noticed you; they’ll probably take your professional looking camera then resume looting).  Click all of these to enlarge if you want to see them up close.

York flood 2015 cars underwater
Your typical flood photo of some decent cars submerged in water.
York flood 2015 recycling bins underwater
Nobody will be recycling their glass bottles for a while – unless they can throw them really far.
York flood 2015 Melrosegate road underwater sewer bubbling up water.
This was around the corner from my house – the water here has flooded even worse than it would have done from the stream, because the sewers are overwhelmed and it’s bubbling up (front centre).
York 2015 floods lols stupid flood people salt bags ASDA.
This is hilarious – apparently nobody told the manager of this ASDA store (Wal-Mart) that salt will dissolve when it is mixed with an excess of water. He would have been better off using bags of gravel.
York floods 2015 james st gypsy site caravans trailers washed away by floodwaters
But it’s hard to see the funny side when your home has literally been washed away. This is the gypsy site (trailer park for gypsies) which is usually crammed end to end with mobile homes (trailers).
York Floods 2015 December police line
A somewhat redundant sign urging people not to venture beyond this arbitrary line. I did hear that North Yorkshire Police ran out of “Road Closed” signs.
York floods 2015 car stranded water level rising december
Another stranded vehicle outside a car showroom. They moved the rest of their cars over the road. Guess this one was from the bargain bucket and deemed not worth saving. The silent tragedy of being an older, reliable motorcar is that you will be sacrificed at the first sign of trouble.
York floods 2015 drama ambulance lost roads closed
An ambulance races to hospital with a patient on-board. Trouble is, it’s heading straight for flooded roads, delaying lifesaving treatment.
York floods 2015 ambulance lost stranded danger death
The same ambulance, several minutes later, has turned around and is racing to find another route to the hospital – this is the REALLY long way round. It puts the siren on, but that’s not going to part the unrelenting water.
Nobody is going out for ice-cream today, as the island of safety surrounding Frankie and Benny's diminishes.
Nobody is going out for ice-cream today, as the island of safety surrounding Frankie and Benny’s diminishes.
York floods december 2015 foss islands road
This is Foss Islands Road, one of the main roads in York, usually gridlocked at this time of day, I don’t even think pedestrians could safely get across.
York flood december 2015 boat river rescue water mooring bridge foss islands road
To the left of the bridge, the River Rescue boat is listing because it’s been moored too tightly and cannot rise with the water levels. The bridge itself being pretty superfluous given that it currently crosses from one river to another. Given the amount of people who have been evacuated, you’d think they’d retrieve all the boats they could get so they could rescue people instead of leaving them to get damaged like this.
York flood december 2015 stupid driving road
There are a lot of vans and campervans on the road, and many people driving round and round looking for a way out of the city. I think some people have used the flood as an excuse to bug out rather than because they really need to risk life and limb making journeys on flooded roads. They’ve missed the fact that the rest of the county is underwater too. There is a lot of reckless driving going on today – like this converted campervan who is doing a U turn but doesn’t slow down enough, ending up in a car park then having to back it up.
York flood december 2015 stupid driving road campervan
Suitably stuck, now they have to back that “campervan” up like a Tonka Truck.

So some laughs, some drama, but most of all, I’m just very glad that my house isn’t flooded at the moment, and I hope to goodness it stays that way.  I think this has justified the expenditure on my 40mm prime (non-zoom) lens for my camera – it’s performance in low light is absolutely stunning – these pictures are actually a little brighter than my eyes were able to see these scenes, because it was going dark as we left the house. If I go out photographing again tomorrow, I need to try and overcome my fear of photographing people because I saw some fantastic human-interest scenes today such as a family pushing their salvaged possessions in a shopping trolley, and some others standing outside a supermarket in their pyjamas waiting for friends to meet them and take them to somewhere dry, and the aforementioned looters although I wasn’t going to snap them in a million years, they were paying too much attention to my camera (although I couldn’t have photographed people very well as I didn’t have my zoom lens with me because I didn’t want it to get wet since it’s bloody expensive – I took my standard kit lens but it was just shockingly crap in the light levels so it captured NOTHING).  I always worry that I’m imposing on others’ private emotional dramas by photographing them; I guess that’s why I’m not a “proper” journalist/photojournalist yet.

How to get from Russia to Alaska across the Bering Strait

How to Cross The Bering Strait From Russia to Alaska, detailing everything from Vladivostok onwards for your convenience (last updated February 2016):

This article is going to explain the different options you have to get from the end of the Trans-Siberian Railway at Vladivostok, to Alaska (or vice versa), for those people who have looked at a map and thought, ‘gee, Alaska and Russia are real close, I bet I can go from one to the other.’ My friends, you are in luck, and I’ve done all of the hard work of research for you.

Background:

Why am I sharing this? Recently, I’ve been planning an ambitious if uber-budget (like, as cheap as it can get) round the world trip that will require me to get across the Pacific. My general preference is to fly the shortest distances at all times to the nearest land with an airport if it’s possible to go onwards, because let’s be fair, I could just fly on a plane around the world and it would be very, very boring.

It all started with a Trans-Siberian railway idea. You may already know that the Trans-Siberian railway ends either in Beijing or Vladivostok, depending which of the two you want to go to. Both take 6 days, I believe and they both cost about £450 for a one way trip in 2nd class (see Seat61 for more on train journeys across Russia).

That left me (on my proposed itinerary) stranded in Vladivostok with no onward travel. So I looked into whether it was possible to get from Russia to Alaska across the Bering Strait as one of several options (most of the others being to finish in Beijing and fly somewhere). In this article, I wanted to only talk about how to get from Russia to Alaska, since information on this appears to be very limited with loads of sites saying it can’t be done or being deliberately vague because they didn’t actually know.  When I updated the article in February 2016, I have also included information about how to get from Alaska to Russia which is MUCH easier.

The Specific Details of getting from Russia to Alaska:

Can you get from Russia across the Bering Strait to Alaska? Yes, you can, although the amount of effort or money involved may leave you changing trains and going to Beijing International Airport instead, for a flight to somewhere less undeveloped. The last thousand miles or so of Russia are still remarkably untouched, like a corner of the world that’s still how it was before agriculture caught on, punctuated with the occasional Soviet-era city or town, and many traditional settlements.

Here’s your options, assuming you are starting at Vladivostok, which is fairly accessible having both roads and rails going to it:

1. Fly from Vladivostok (or Khabarovsk) to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, then get a flight from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky to Anchorage, Alaska, with Yakutia (www.yakutia.aero), a Russian airline. It’s about a 3 hour flight and goes every Saturday from 11th July to 29th August as it’s a seasonal flight.  You can also travel from Vladivostok to Khabarovsk (or get off the train early) and fly from there to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky.  This certainly seems to be the most reliable way to get out of Russia towards North America without going to Beijing or Seoul.  To get to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, you can use any of the following airlines from either Vladivostok or Khabarovsk: Aeroflot (operated by Aurora, use the Aurora site to plan this flight), S7 Airlines, then Ural Airlines only goes from Vladivostok and Yakutia Airlines only goes from Khabarovsk.

Why do you need to fly from Vladivostok (or Khabarovsk) to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky? There are no roads. Literally, the last 800 miles or so of Russia has no roads or railways, not even dirt tracks, literally no thoroughfares at all, connecting places with each other, there are just the occasional towns and villages (which do have roads). Some, like Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, are on the sea and sometimes get freighter traffic.  Many other settlements in this area are inland and very isolated. These were the frontier towns during communism, and now, they lie abandoned, the new government seems disinterested in building roads to connect them to anywhere, and their concrete buildings are falling down.  There aren’t even any maps aside from Google Earth – literally, this sheet map is the furthest east I could find a paper map for, and it pretty much ends with Vladivostok!

It has been suggested that freighters are another way to get from Vladivostok to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, but there are no regular sailings, I don’t speak more than two words of Russian, so I certainly can’t learn enough Russian to get a job or follow technical instructions by the time I travel, and anyway, I am female and therefore not being physically strong enough to do a lot of work on a freighter, even if the captain would allow me to try, which is unlikely, and freighters are unreliable as a mode of transport – your visa could run out while you waited for one to turn up, so I disregarded this option as impractical.

A note on Google: Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky confused it on some of the ‘maps’ searches, Petropavlovsk did not, Kamchatsky did, so the best search term for information on this place is Petropavlovsk. Some people call it Kamchatka but Google struggles with that too.

2. Travel from Vladivostok to Provideniya, the furthest airport towards the Bering Strait, from there, you can charter a plane from Bering Air, an Alaskan company. They fly Nome, Alaska to Provideniya, Russia and may be able to pick you up in Russia if all your visas etc are in order, and if you’ve arranged this with them. They will probably want you to pay the cost of a return flight because they fly out from Alaska for Alaskan tourists to have trips to this isolated part of Russia, but you don’t need to charter a whole plane; you can potentially do it as a “seat fare passenger” when a plane is bringing American tourists over. I would still expect it to cost some money, however. You need to book this at least three weeks in advance of when you wish to travel so they can arrange all the paperwork which needs time to get from Alaska to Moscow. Email them for further enquiries as they don’t have a scheduled service.  This method has the advantage of the shortest flight from Russia to Alaska, but the disadvantage of being complicated and unreliable and potentially expensive.

Getting from Vladivostok to Provideniya:
This is a complicated multi-step trip requiring more than one short-hop flight due to the lack of roadage. Basically, from Vladivostok you need to go back upwards to Khabarovsk (or get off the train early, but then you’d miss out on Vladovostok, which may or may not matter to you), then you can fly from Khabarovsk to Anadyr (Ugolny airport, which is 11km east of Anadyr), then from this airport you can get a flight to Provideniya, from which you may be able to charter across to Nome or Anchorage using the information in the paragraph above.

3. You can walk across the Bering Strait when it is frozen solid, however, it’s about 53 miles of ice, after 800 miles of no roads and wilderness in Russia, and the US immigration office might frown upon your arrival in this manner (but at least they probably won’t arrest you if you have all the correct documentation such as a Visa, not sure where you’d get your exit stamp for Russia, though). There has been one known case of someone doing this in the opposite direction (they described the whole adventure as “brutal”) and they got into a lot of trouble with the Russian authorities because, due to lack of roads, it was impossible for them to register themselves at any police station in Russia within 24 hours of their arrival in the country. Oops. Other alternatives may include horseback or cycling if your off-road biking skills are outstanding, still not sure how you would cross the rivers, however.

Those are all the options I’ve found so far, as there are no direct flights from Vladivostok to anywhere in the U.S or Canada (but you can go on a 35 hour flight changing at Moscow going back all the way around the rest of the world to get to Anchorage or Seattle or anywhere else in North America if you’re set on using a plane and have loads of money). None of them come up on flight comparison services because they are not really comparable with anything.  There is literally one option at every stage.  Pricing information is also a bust so I don’t know how much any of this costs at the present, but I would guess at least a couple of hundred at each new flight.  It’s also worth noting that the NAVTEX stations over that corner of the world don’t appear to be very well maintained so navigational information is often unavailable, which can lead to some scheduled flights being grounded.

Update: Alaska To Russia:
Since I wrote the original article, I have found a company offering charter flight services who may be able to take you from Anchorage to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (or to Vladivostok or Provideniya) or (less likely) Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (or Vladivostok or Provideniya) to Anchorage. This cuts out ALL of the uncertainty and means you will be able to go straight from Alaska to Russia or possibly vice versa with an reputable, accountable company organizing your independent journey by finding you a pilot and a plane.  If you wish to book a chartered flight, you can find one here: Villiers Private Jet Charter. Villiers has lots of private pilots with planes around the world and is most likely to be able to meet your needs. Most charter flight services depend on where the individual pilots are based, but there are a lot of people in Alaska with planes so this is your absolute best option if you want to go from Alaska to Russia rather than the other way around, especially since you can book a flight for a date and time which suits you. There are some private charter jets offering the reverse journey (Russia to Alaska) but these are thin on the ground. To offset the cost, it would be well worth finding several other people willing to accompany you on this journey, and on a private charter flight you should be able to take items such as bicycles as well if you needed to.

Do you have any further information on how to cross the Bering Strait from Russia to Alaska, or in reverse? You can email me at invokedelight@gmail.com if you have managed to do this or if you have found any other ways of getting across, or know of a ship that travels this route and takes passengers (not freighters, as explained above), please do let me know I would love to hear how you have done this journey and can add your perspective to this article. If you have a first-hand account of the journey that you’d like to share with the world, I’d love to put you up as a separate article as a guest post (your name to your article, you keep copyright etc) if you email me. I am particularly interested if you’re female as all the articles I’ve read so far seem to be young men in their 20’s and 30’s who have even considered doing this journey. NOTE: I am not a travel agent, please don’t email me asking for detailed travel advice!

Helpful Map

This map shows an overview of the ways you can get from Russia to Alaska by air. Click to enlarge. Base map: Google maps Additional layers: me.
This map shows an overview of the ways you can get from Russia to Alaska by air.  Click to enlarge.  Base map: Google maps.  Additional layers: Invoke Delight.

Resources:
Bering Air website.
Travel Article on crossing the last part of Russia and the Bering Strait Please note this information is all very old and was last updated in February 2006, after which the author appears to have lost interest in further research into this topic.
Yakutia airport website flights from Petropavlovsk Kamchatsky to Anchorage, Alaska, this is the flight schedule, they only fly on Saturdays in July/August and not at all the rest of the year.
Off the unbeaten track Travel information for Petropavlovsk Kamchatsky.
The Other Side of Russia: A Slice of Life in Siberia and the Russian Far East by Sharon Hudgins: This is the only book written about extended travel in far Eastern Russia although I don’t think she offers much helpful advice for making the journey between the Bering Strait and Alaska, there is a lot of information in this book which gives some eye-opening insights into life in this part of Russia.
Villiers Private Jet Charter the website for the private charter jet services.

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