'Heartbreaking' devastation of Yorkshire floods as fierce communities rally

A deluge of ‘biblical’ proportions, leaving a trail of devastation in its wake. Thousands of people are wondering what will be left of their homes and livelihoods.

When the heavy rains began, pushing saturated rivers past their peak, there had been fear that the desolation of past floods would once again be repeated.

Numb, frozen with shock, many have been reluctant to leave their homes. Others took refuge in newly opened shelters, reliant on the charity of strangers for comfort.

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Tomorrow will bring answers for some. And for many, it will bring their worst fears.

The village of Fishlake, Doncaster, submerged under still rising flood water is cut off. Tom Maddick / SWNS.com

“Everybody is working together, everybody is doing what they can,” said ward councillor for Bentley, in Doncaster, Jane Nightingale. “It is devastating. These people have been through it all, in 2007. All they can see is that it’s happening again.

“Everybody is doing what they can. There’s a great community camaraderie, and people are helping as best they can. But there is a sense of anger.”

Community spirit

In Bentley, drop in centres have been set up, mops and buckets are being collected at St Peter’s Church in readiness for the clean up operation that will come.

A JCB transports people and their belongings through floodwater to other parts of Fishlake, Doncaster as parts of England endured a month's worth of rain in 24 hours, with scores of people rescued or forced to evacuate their homes. Ben Birchall/PA Wire

Extra police have been drafted in to Doncaster, many officers with South Yorkshire Police volunteering on their rest days to protect evacuated areas.

In Stainforth, the charity library is unable now to accept any more donations. It is overwhelmed, the kindness of neighbouring communities coming together as one.

Six severe flood warnings remain in place. Fishlake, Barnby Dun, Kirk Sandall, Kirk Bramwith, South Bramwith and Bentley Rise. There is a risk to life in these areas.

Joe Walsh, a finance worker from Bradford, has been volunteering with the British Red Cross at a rest centre in Doncaster.

Paul Croucher mops his parents' living room after it was flooded in Fishlake, Doncaster as parts of England endured a month's worth of rain in 24 hours, with scores of people rescued or forced to evacuate their homes. Ben Birchall/PA Wire

“One man here showed me some photographs,” said Mr Walsh. “He said they’d rescued what they could to put upstairs but anything downstairs is gone.

“The water level was up to his chest by the time they left their house.”

Mr Walsh bought a birthday cake for a boy who marked his eighth-birthday on Saturday.

“As we walked in with the cake lit with candles, there was a look of joy on his face as he realised that this was for him, and he hadn’t been forgotten in the trauma of the day.”

Fire and rescue crews transport people through floodwater to other parts of Fishlake, Doncaster: Ben Birchall/PA Wire

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In the village of Fishlake, around half of the 700 residents agreed to evacuate. There have been pleas tonight from authority leaders for those remaining, to reconsider.

The community here has turned inwards, says Claire Holling, who runs the Old Butchers cafe.

Many people have spent their weekend with neighbours in the Hare and Hounds pub, which has been sending out hot meals to those trapped in their homes. Others sought shelter at the village church, firefighters drafted in from all over to help.

Villager Dan Greenslade was today trying to get back to his flooded house after his girlfriend gave birth to a daughter on Friday.

“I know it’s underwater,” he said. “We’ve just decorated it all and we moved in three weeks ago to get ready for the baby.”

A man wades through floodwater in Fishlake, Doncaster. Ben Birchall/PA Wire

He added: “I’m trying to get through to Doncaster Council but nobody’s getting back to me.”

Mr Greenslade said he, his girlfriend and their new baby Indie, are staying with his girlfriend’s parents in a nearby village.

He added: “I’m in same clothes I was in on Thursday.

“Luckily, some friends have been round and fetched a second-hand Moses basket and loads of second-hand clothes and stuff. So the baby’s OK. But all of her stuff is at our house.”


Pam Webb, owner of Truffle Lodge accommodation and spa, lost both her home and business in just 20 minutes.

Friday’s rainfall saw the lodge, which she launched four years ago, ravaged with 3ft of water from the nearby River Don.

Fighting back the tears, the 49-year-old said: “It is both my home and business and I am absolutely heartbroken.”

She had been calling Doncaster Council since Saturday afternoon, but as of tonight had received no reply, she added.

“I feel angry about how this has been allowed to happen,” she said.

“Someone needs to take responsibility and needs to address the issues to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”

Rescue crews guide residents through floodwater on a dingy in Fishlake, Doncaster. Ben Birchall/PA Wire