Homes evacuated as month’s worth of rain in a day brings travel chaos

Parts of England endured a month’s worth of rain in 24 hours, with people forced to evacuate their homes, others stranded overnight in a shopping centre, and travel plans thrown into chaos.

An Environment Agency (EA) rain gauge showed Swineshaw in 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), although forecasters have predicted that the worst of the rain has now been and gone.

Autumn weather Nov 8th 2019
A lorry drives through floodwater near Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield where some people were forced to stay overnight (Danny Lawson/PA)

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.”

Other parts of Yorkshire and the Midlands woke up on Friday to their wettest day in years, with some areas set to experience travel chaos following Thursday’s deluge.

As of Friday morning, the EA had 118 flood warnings in place, as well as five severe “danger to life” warnings relating to the River Don at Barnby Dun, Kirk Bramwith, Kirk Sandall, South Bramwith and the Willow Bridge caravan site, which are all in Doncaster.

There are nearly 30 flood warnings in place for Nottinghamshire, which is due to be visited by Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday.

An additional 35 homes in Mansfield were evacuated as a precaution after a mudslide in the area, while a handful of residents in Worksop were also forced to leave their homes.

In Yorkshire, Doncaster Council told people in parts of Kirk Sandall to “evacuate immediately” at around 7am after the River Don breached its banks.

Autumn weather Nov 8th 2019
A car sits in floodwater near Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield, where around 30 people were stranded overnight (Danny Lawson/PA)

Elsewhere, around 30 people sought refuge in the Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield due to gridlocked traffic outside, as the extreme weather conditions meant those turning up for the Christmas lights switch-on were left stranded.

Shopper Becky Laver told BBC Radio Sheffield: “No-one looks happy, everyone looks miserable.

“People are having to buy their own pyjamas and quilts because of how cold and wet they are from the rain.”

A spokeswoman confirmed that the shopping centre would open as normal at 10am.

She said: “We anticipate that nearly 80,000 people visited Meadowhall yesterday and less than 30 customers remained in our building throughout the night.

“They were supported by night staff, security and members of the Meadowhall management team who, where possible, helped them to either secure hotel accommodation nearby or arrange taxis home.

“For those who were unable to get to their home safely or preferred to stay with us due to adverse weather conditions where they live, we looked after them by providing an array of blankets, coats and towels as well as a continuous supply of refreshments.”

Sheffield was particularly badly hit during flooding in summer 2007, which saw millions of pounds spend on prevention schemes.

Yet it was again hit by some of the most dramatic scenes on Thursday, with a number of roads left impassable to traffic, cars stranded in floodwater and gridlock resulting on many routes.

TRAVEL UPDATE: Due to heavy rain flooding the railway some lines are blocked. pic.twitter.com/SsppdoVuMd

— Northern (@northernassist) November 8, 2019

Rail operator Northern issued “do not travel” advice for passengers using five lines on its network hit by the deluge.

The lines involved are between Sheffield and Gainsborough, Sheffield and Lincoln, Sheffield and Goole, Hebden Bridge and Rochdale, and the line from Sheffield to Leeds via Moorthorpe.

Elsewhere, Saturday’s horse-racing meeting at Doncaster has been cancelled due to a waterlogged track.

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