South Yorkshire flooding: Defences 'reduce impact'

Image source, Magnum Photos
Image caption,
Up to 80mm of rain fell in the River Don catchment on Thursday. Pictured is flood water in Bentley, Doncaster, on Friday

Flood defences put in place in South Yorkshire managed to significantly reduce the impact of Thursday's floods, the Environment Agency (EA) has said.

River levels in parts of the county rose overnight to almost the same as they were in June 2007, when two people died in Millhouses and the Wicker.

Despite a major incident being declared on Thursday, the EA said the area was protected by new walls and flood gates.

Some residents have said they have not had enough support, however.

In Bentley, Doncaster, people have been "dragging sandbags through floodwater" to put them outside their homes as flood levels rise.

David Geczi is a director of wholesaler Centurion, whose warehouse is based at the end of the street nearest to the River Don.

"We've not really heard or seen from the Environment Agency and had no real information from the council," he said.

"They've not sandbagged until this morning, which is just totally wrong because people have now had to drag them through flood water."

Image source, Sheffield City Council
Image caption,
New gravity walls were installed as part of the flood defences

The council said South Yorkshire had "just seen one of the wettest days on record" and there were severe flood warnings in place.

It said in a statement: "Some residents have already been evacuated and we have set up rest centres where we are providing support and advice."

In Sheffield, Meadowhall shopping centre was affected by flooding, with dozens of people spending the night there after roads became compromised amid torrential downpours.

People were allowed to leave later on, but were warned about severe traffic delays.

The river levels around the site were high, but the EA said its defences as well as the ones put in by Meadowhall had lessened the damage.

In 2007, 2,200 properties were flooded across Sheffield with damage estimated at £400m in the Lower Don Valley alone.

There was significant damage to infrastructure, and major employers were flooded in Sheffield including Forgemasters, Tata Steel, Firth Rixon, Royal Mail and Meadowhall, as well as many smaller businesses.

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Since then, extra defences have been put in place along a 4.97 mile (8km) stretch of the River Don between the Wicker and the Blackburn Brook at the M1.

The £20m Lower Don Valley scheme saw the installation of new retaining walls, flood gates and the fitting of flap valves to pipes which discharge to the river.

The EA said this has provided better protection for the area over the past 48 hours.

Elsewhere in South Yorkshire, £3m was spent by the EA to repair and improve defences running along Ea Beck, in the villages of Toll Bar and Bentley near Doncaster.

The work was to protect the area prone to flooding, but it was stressed that it would not be a guarantee against future incidents.

Sheffield City Council said there had been some "overtopping" of the flood defences at the Lower Don Valley.

John Mothersole, chief executive, said: "This is not a breach of the defences, but some water is coming over the top of the defences in some places.

"This is mainly a business area and no residential properties are likely to be affected by this; we will liaise closely with the businesses affected."

Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
In Rotherham, vehicles are submerged in floodwater after Thursday's downpour

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