Woman dies in flood­wa­ter as a month’s rain falls in a day and hun­dreds are evac­u­ated

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Sarah Knap­ton

A WOMAN died af­ter be­ing swept away in flood­wa­ter as parts of north­ern Eng­land and the Mid­lands were bat­tered by a month’s worth of rain in 24 hours, caus­ing wa­ter to breach banks and sweep over flood de­fences.

Her death in the Der­went at Rowsley, near Mat­lock in Der­byshire, came as the En­vi­ron­ment Agency (EA) warned peo­ple to stay away from swollen rivers, coun­cils evac­u­ated hun­dreds of houses and emer­gency ser­vices used boats to res­cue stranded home­own­ers.

Dozens of peo­ple were forced to spend Thurs­day night in the Mead­owhall shop­ping cen­tre near Sh­effield.

Roads around the cen­tre had flooded af­ter wa­ter from the Don poured over the top of de­fences com­pleted last year at a cost of more than £20mil­lion. By yes­ter­day af­ter­noon there were six se­vere “dan­ger to life” warn­ings in place around the Don, which also breached its banks at St Oswald’s Church at Kirk San­dall.

Last night, 116 flood warn­ings were in place, mostly in York­shire.

Boris John­son, who vis­ited Mat­lock last night to help with the clean-up op­er­a­tion, said the Govern­ment was putting £2.6 bil­lion into flood de­fences.

“Peo­ple have been moved out of their homes and prob­a­bly hun­dreds of busi­nesses have seen dam­age to their prop­er­ties – we stand ready to help in any way that we can,” he added.

Allen Cowles, a coun­cil­lor in Whis­ton, Rother­ham, where res­i­dents were evac­u­ated as the Whis­ton Brook burst its banks, said: “I am lay­ing the blame squarely on the En­vi­ron­ment Agency. They put in min­i­mal flood de­fences. The flood de­fences have not been raised at all, they are only around 18 inches – the height of a river­bank.”

The EA in­sisted de­fences had held around Sh­effield.

It said fewer than 10 prop­er­ties had been af­fected and less than 10 peo­ple in the area had been forced to evac­u­ate their homes.

A spokesman said: “Fol­low­ing any flood, we work with the Lead Lo­cal Flood Author­ity, whose duty is to look at the causes and seek to learn lessons.

“The flood de­fences in Sh­effield were not breached, but we reg­u­larly mon­i­tor all flood de­fences as a part of our rou­tine main­te­nance pro­gramme.”

Swine­shaw in the Peak District recorded 4.4in of rain on Thurs­day – the most any­where in Eng­land – while

parts of Sh­effield ex­pe­ri­enced 3.3in. The av­er­age monthly rain­fall for York­shire at this time of year is 3.5in.

Res­i­dents in Toll Bar, near Don­caster, de­scribed Thurs­day’s down­pour as “al­most bib­li­cal”. Kath­leen Over­ton, a 61-year-old Post Of­fice worker, said: “You were just look­ing out of your win­dow in dis­be­lief at how much of it was com­ing down. Peo­ple’s cars were get­ting sub­merged, gar­dens were ru­ined. It was car­nage.”

Res­i­dents on Yar­bor­ough Ter­race in Don­caster, in­clud­ing one dis­abled man who was trapped in his home, were res­cued by boat.

Jason Richards, a 44-year-old res­i­dent, said: “I swept it up with the broom at first, but ev­ery time I brushed it away more wa­ter just kept com­ing.”

In Mans­field, 35 homes were evac­u­ated as a pre­cau­tion af­ter a mud­slide, while res­i­dents in around 25 homes in Work­sop were also or­dered to flee.

In Lin­colnshire, the River Witham had risen so much that res­i­dents said they were able to see swans swim­ming up to the edge of their prop­er­ties.

“I didn’t re­alise how high the wa­ter ac­tu­ally was un­til I went out and there was a group of them right next to my wall. They were that close I could touch them,” said res­i­dent Chelsea Foster, 23.

South York­shire Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice con­firmed they res­cued more than 100 stranded peo­ple on Thurs­day night, with around 500 calls com­ing in be­tween 10pm and 4am.

Pro­fes­sor Han­nah Cloke, a hy­drol­o­gist at the Uni­ver­sity of Read­ing, said the floods had been caused by a “storm fac­tory” over the At­lantic bring­ing tor­ren­tial rain. She warned more could be on the way.

“If these at­mo­spheric con­di­tions don’t change, it could lead to more rain on the way,” she said. “It’s im­pos­si­ble to pro­tect every­one from flood­ing, we will never be able to do that, so we have to stop build­ing on flood plains.”

The weather caused train ser­vices to be can­celled and North­ern Rail is­sued a “do not travel” warn­ing on some routes. Lon­don North Eastern Rail­way (LNER) also warned of de­lays af­ter the East Coast Main­line was flooded be­tween Leeds and Don­caster.

Alex Burkill, me­te­o­rol­o­gist with the Met Of­fice, said: “The rain is eas­ing and mov­ing south but ob­vi­ously the im­pact of that will con­tinue to be felt.”

Boris John­son lent a hand with the clean-up op­er­a­tion at an op­ti­cians in Mat­lock, Der­byshire, last night as he vis­ited the flood-rav­aged re­gion where the Der­went has burst its banks

Flood­ing around Dar­ley Dale in Der­byshire, where build­ings were cut off by the ris­ing flood­wa­ters yes­ter­day. The area is close to where a woman’s body was found af­ter she was swept away in the swollen River Der­went

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