Fishlake 2019 floods: Extract from residents' new book about Yorkshire village's devastation

Fishlake residents are reliving the devastating 2019 floods in a new book. Ahead of its launch we feature an extract from Flood: The Stories of a Village Underwater.

Fishlake in Doncatser submerged under flood water on November 9, 2019. Picture: Tom Maddick / SWNS.
Fishlake in Doncatser submerged under flood water on November 9, 2019. Picture: Tom Maddick / SWNS.

In November 2019, the residents of Fishlake in South Yorkshire had their lives turned upside down by disastrous flooding following torrential downpours.

The resilient community has now compiled their experiences in a new book, Flood: The Stories of a Village Underwater.

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Copies of the book, which has been produced using donations, will be given to each household in the village for free and further copies will be available to buy online. Profits will benefit those experiencing financial hardship as a result of floods.

Andrew Mott, right, with wife Sara, after their home was hit by flooding in 2019. Picture: Tom Maddick / SWNS.

It has been produced "as a way of thanking the people and agencies who helped us, as well as raising funds for those communities worst affected," say the authors.

A launch event – due to be attended by Doncaster North MP Ed Miliband, Mayor of the Sheffield City Region Dan Jarvis and mayor of Doncaster, Ros Jones – will be held at St Cuthbert’s Church in the village from noon on Sunday.

“The floodwater took many people by surprise when it entered their homes: rising up through the floors and emerging from behind skirting boards,” say the authors. “Meanwhile, many parts of the village remained oblivious as to what was happening and only became aware of the impending danger when they saw appeals for help and sandbags on social media.

“In the hours that followed the lights of the emergency service vehicles pierced through the blackness of the night, and many households were evacuated. In the coming days, life in the village became almost unrecognisable: transformed by the waters, the police, firefighters, boat teams and TV crews. Countless other people came to help, many of whom had never before walked the usually quiet roads and paths of the village.”

The book has been almost two years in the making and includes 85 stories and articles presented alongside 350 photos, but today The Yorkshire Post prints an extract featuring the contribution of resident Andrew Mott.

THE NIGHT was dark, but then it usually is in November. What I didn’t know, even when I pulled onto our drive (with its new outdoor water feature, in the shape of a two inch deep river) was that things were going to get a heck of a lot darker, metaphorically speaking of course.

The aforementioned outdoor water feature then decided that it wanted an upgrade to an indoor one and so in it flowed, without knocking or ringing the doorbell, right under our front door.

They’ve no manners some water features!

We grabbed anything we could to try and stem the flow: towels, cushions, curtains, my clothing (’ang on a flippin’ minute!) but nothing worked the flow had become far too strong. We definitely knew we were on a hiding to nothing when water started coming in from under the house walls.

We have concrete floors and no air bricks, but it still found a way in. Very cunning and resourceful is water. By this time the water was around 12 inches deep (that’s around 30cm for all you nouveaux enfants and Europhiles out there).

Suddenly there was a knock on our front door and an ensuing commotion in our hallway. Expecting to be devoured by Jaws, or kidnapped by The Creature from the Black Lagoon, we were quite relieved to see the friendly faces of our wonderful fire service.

With me being disabled, they had come to get us to safety; Gawd bless ‘em!

As they wheeled me out of the house to get me to dryer land, they had to tilt back my wheelchair somewhat to make the battle against the tide a little easier. What a strange (and not particularly pleasant) sensation it was to have my backside dragged through the freezing water, acting as a makeshift rudder for the good ship Andy; not recommended!

Now on dryer land, we crammed into our Land Rover, ‘we’ being my wife Sara, daughter Emily, our two dogs, Noah and Legion, and of course yours truly. Our seven cats had thankfully bolted upstairs, so we knew they were safe. We set off, not really knowing where we were going or what we were doing.

After a quick phone call, we decided that Emily would go and stay with her sister Stephanie for the night. So off we went to Sheffield to drop her off.

We then turned back towards home, still not knowing what to do for the best and spent the rest of the night parked up in the Aldi car park in Thorne. We hardly slept. It was freezing cold and two great big dogs, panting and drooling down your neck isn’t a good recipe for a great night’s sleep.

The following morning, we booked into the Travelodge at Thorne (off Junction 6 of the M18) where we would remain for the next six weeks. The Travelodge staff couldn’t have been more helpful, and not forgetting the food vendors too; a huge shout out is well deserved by all.

Oh, and just in case you were wondering about our animal family, the dogs went for a luxury stay at the local kennels.

Until the waters subsided (when we were able to rescue our cats and book them into our usual cattery) the fire service were wading through the floodwater and feeding them for us.

What a fantastic bunch of guys and gals! Six weeks is thankfully an adequate time for lots of plotting and planning, especially when you find out that the Travelodge closes or Christmas!

Our home insurance firm had failed to find us anywhere suitable to live, so we went down the same route as several other people in Fishlake and hired a static caravan. You would think this would be pretty plain sailing; how difficult could it be?

Well, with the firm we found: very. Delivery day after promised delivery day went by, but still no caravan.

We were seriously looking at spending Christmas back in our Land Rover, but thankfully at the final hour it turned up. “Hoorah!”, I hear you cry.

Well no, far from it really.

The caravan owner said that he had measured up our drive and that the caravan would fit perfectly.

If his name was Paul Daniels, it may have done, but no, we didn’t like it, and definitely not a lot.

In the end, our gatepost had to be knocked down, half our front hedge ripped out and most of the drainage ditch in front of our house filled in, just so the great big thing could be hauled onto our property and sited. Sorry, did I say ‘sited’?

Well, not according to the guys who delivered the caravan. “We just deliver ‘em, pal”, they nonchalantly told me and proceeded to escape into the fast encroaching night.

Having been told by the owner that it would be sited, we were at a complete loss to know what to do. As if we weren’t stressed enough! Thankfully, some of our wonderful neighbours rallied round, made a few phone calls to people ‘who know their stuff’, the caravan was

finally sited and we were in for Christmas.

As of October 24, 2020, we are finally back in our home, but sadly without my faithful German shepherd dog, Legion. Unfortunately, he succumbed to the common ailment of many German shepherd dogs, that being the failure of his back legs. He was put to sleep on the June 8, 2020. Rest in peace old friend...