Catcliffe floods: Environment Agency denies claims that villagers received no warning

The agency which issues flood warnings has denied claims that people in a South Yorkshire village were not warned about a deluge that has severely damaged dozens of homes.

Around 120 properties in Catcliffe were evacuated by firefighters in the early hours of Saturday morning, after Storm Babet brought an intense downpour which caused the River Rother to burst its banks.

Locals claim they did not receive a sufficient warning and some were only evacuated when water was pouring into their homes.

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Rotherham MP Sarah Champion said the Environment Agency should have told people they may have to leave on Friday when the village began to flood.

Homes in Catcliffe were evacuated after Storm Babet caused severe flooding.Homes in Catcliffe were evacuated after Storm Babet caused severe flooding.
Homes in Catcliffe were evacuated after Storm Babet caused severe flooding.

“I’m just genuinely frustrated and extremely angry on behalf of my constituents that advanced notifications weren’t given out,” she told the BBC.

But the Environment Agency said it issued a flood alert, which means flooding is possible and people should be prepared, was sent out at 9.52am on Friday.

It also said an automated flood warning, which means flooding is expected and immediate action is required, was then sent out at 2.14am the following day.

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Around 250 properties in Catcliffe have been affected by the flood and Rotherham Council said it has been pumping water away and providing people with accommodation.

Firefighters responding to the floods in CatcliffeFirefighters responding to the floods in Catcliffe
Firefighters responding to the floods in Catcliffe

The Environment Agency said the flood defences are in a good condition but they were overwhelmed when a month’s worth of rain fell in less than 36 hours, taking the river to its highest recorded level.

A spokeswoman added: “We know the devastating impact flooding can have, and our thoughts are with all of those affected.

“Our teams worked round the clock to clear screens, remove debris and to protect lives and property and we will be carefully considering what actions can be taken to further support communities, including in Catcliffe.”

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Reports of floods to the Environment Agency reached the highest level since 2015/16 at the peak of Storm Babet.

It issued more than 300 flood warnings over the weekend and received more than 1,800 calls to its flood line.

The agency also said hundreds of people have been left homeless in the wake of Storm Babet, with about 1,250 properties in England flooded.

The Government has said people affected by the deluges could be eligible for a £500 cash grant, council tax relief or funding towards repairs and flood protection.

Communities Secretary Michael Gove said the money will be available to people who have experienced “exceptional localised flooding” amid the extreme weather.