UK weather: PM visits flood-hit areas as he vows to build more defences
Written by News on 09/11/2019
Boris Johnson has visited Matlock in Derbyshire following widespread flooding which has hit large parts of northern England.
The prime minister thanked members of the emergency services, saying they had “done a very good job”.
He said the government has allocated £2.6bn for “a huge programme of flood defences and flood preparation”.
“But in the end, you’ve got to face the reality that places like this are vulnerable to flooding – we’re going to see more of it,” he added.
Mr Johnson said “we need to prepare and we need to be investing in defences”.
He also visited an opticians and used a mop to help with some of the surface water in the shop.
Earlier in the day, the body of a woman was pulled from floodwater in the county – as “danger to life” severe flood warnings remained in place in several areas.
Derbyshire Police said emergency services were called to a stretch of the River Derwent in Darley Dale, close to Matlock.
“The woman was reported as having been swept away by flood water in Rowsley and the body of what is believed to be the same woman was found in Darley Dale and was recovered at 10.40am,” the force said.
“The family of the woman have been informed and our thoughts are with them at this time.”
Sky’s Becky Johnson, in Darley Dale, said: “There was an operation by the coastguard helicopter before the body was sadly discovered in the water.
“People are saying they have not seen flooding around here like this since 2007… very, very dangerous conditions.”
It comes after a month’s rainfall in 24 hours in parts of northern England where dozens of people have been rescued or forced to evacuate their homes as river levels rise, while others were trapped overnight on Thursday into Friday at a shopping centre.
Scores of schools have been shut, roads closed and rail services cancelled due to flooding.
The Environment Agency has urged people to stay away from swollen rivers, increasing its severe flood warnings from three to six on Friday.
The severe flood warnings are in South Yorkshire and affect the River Don at Bentley, Barnby Dun, Kirk Bramwith, Kirk Sandall, South Bramwith and Willow Bridge Caravan Site.
Sky’s Sally Lockwood, who is in Doncaster, said the latest recording showed the River Don in the area had risen to 6.30m – the average is between 0.2m and 3.6m.
In addition, dozens of flood warnings – meaning immediate action is required – are in place, most of them in Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire.
Residents have been told that homes and businesses could flood, fast-flowing water could endanger lives, and some communities could be cut off.
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service rescued more than 100 stranded people overnight and said it had received around 500 calls to its control room between 10pm and 4am.
Doncaster Council warned some residents to evacuate their homes because the River Don was breaching its banks near St Oswald Church at Kirk Sandall.
The council tweeted: “There is a severe flood warning in place for Sandal Grove, Old Kirk Sandall. Residents in these areas are advised to evacuate immediately.”
South Yorkshire Police warned the public that the flooding was causing “significant issues”, with the force telling locals not to drive or leave their properties unless it is necessary.
In Rotherham, households were evacuated from flooded areas and the council posted a list of school closures on its website.
Derbyshire Police warned motorists against moving signs where roads have been shut “or attempt to use these routes” in Matlock, north east Derbyshire, High Peak and Derwent Valley.
In Mansfield, 35 homes were evacuated as a precaution after a mudslide, while people in around 25 properties in Worksop were also told to leave due to the flooding risk.
Superintendent Mat Healey, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: “A multi-agency response has been put in place to deal with this major incident affecting a large number of properties in Worksop and Mansfield and the wider impacts across the county.”
A major incident was also declared in Sheffield by the city council after the River Don burst its banks in some areas, flooding businesses, car parks and roads.
Farooq Sabir, who owns an off licence in Sheffield, said there was not much he could save as his business was flooded within minutes.
He told Sky News he was “knee-high in water” and “trying to salvage anything was just impossible”.
At Meadowhall, near Sheffield, hundreds of people woke to find the streets were still flooded in areas after they were forced to spend the night at the busy shopping centre.
Images posted on social media overnight by shoppers and staff stranded at the complex showed them bedding down for the night wherever they could – on chairs, benches and in-store furniture.
Hannah Crossley, who was at the centre, said she had watched water levels rise until they were “centimetres away from flooding over the wall”.
Luke Turner, who works at Meadowhall, said he was unable to drive home because the staff car park was flooded.
He said police had informed people they were being kept inside Meadowhall “for safety reasons”.
“Everyone has been helpful. There are drinks knocking around, coats, covers to keep us warm. It’s quite a good atmosphere, but a bad situation,” he said, during the overnight stay.
Samantha Ratcliffe-D’Arrigo was at Meadowhall with her husband John, her mum Irene Ratcliffe, sisters Siobhan Ratcliffe and Lea Fenn and brother-in-law David Hoyland.
“First thing we did was buy plugs and phone chargers,” she told Sky News.
“We stocked up on food from Marks and Spencers. Then we basically set up a base camp in Coffika and had lots of tea, coffee, and hot chocolate. We’d already bought the pyjamas from Primark.
“We’re a fun family and decided to wear the pyjamas and prepare for an overnight stay.”
Saskia Hazelwood, 17, a student at New College Doncaster, was there with friends for the Meadowhall Christmas Live concert – which was cancelled – and said her father tried to drive out to get them but was forced to turn back because of road closures.
“Our trains were then cancelled so we went to get food, then spoke to the police and security and they told us it was unsafe to leave and there was no way of getting in or out, so we instantly started panicking,” she said.
“We went into Primark and all bought spare clothes and we bought food and drinks to keep us going throughout the night.
“We were in M&S for a while on the sofas until they closed the store and we were then moved to the Oasis food quarter. We were there until 7am.”
She added: “I understand the flooding was dangerous but a lot more could’ve been done, and they could’ve been a lot more clearer about the situation… as a lot of people were confused and asking a lot of questions.”
The shopping complex opened for business as normal, but its operators urged visitors to check for any ongoing traffic issues in the area.
Northern Rail has issued “do not travel” advice for customers on several routes – with flooding closing lines from Sheffield to destinations including Leeds via Moorthorpe, Lincoln, Doncaster and Gainsborough.
Trains are also unable to run on routes such as Manchester Piccadilly to Cleethorpes, Leeds to Doncaster and Hebden Bridge to Rochdale.
The Environment Agency said the Peak District saw 4.4in (112mm) of rain on Thursday – the highest total of anywhere across England – while flood-hit parts of Sheffield experienced 3.4in (85mm) during the same period.
The average monthly rainfall total for Yorkshire at this time of year is 3.5in (89mm).
Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said: “Some places have seen a month’s worth of rain in one day.
“The rain is easing and moving south but obviously the impact of that will continue to be felt.”
Residents in Toll Bar, near Doncaster, said the downpour was “almost biblical”, while others compared it to the deluges which devastated communities in the summer of 2007.
(c) Sky News 2019: UK weather: PM visits flood-hit areas as he vows to build more defences