Yorkshire braces itself for Storm Christoph as Fishlake residents prepare for potential second flood in just over two years

Thousands of worried residents across Yorkshire were bracing themselves on Tuesday for potential flooding misery as Storm Christoph began to pour down on the region.

123 flood alerts and 14 flood warnings were issued by the Environment Agency as of 2pm on Tuesday, as homes in areas feared to be most affected were delivered sandbags and supplies to ready themselves.

Areas on flood alert included Leeds, Calder Valley, Wakefield and Doncaster, meaning flooding was possible, and York had flood warnings issued for the city centre and Naburn Lock, meaning flooding was expected.

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Fishlake, near Doncaster, was one of the worst affected areas in floods in November 2019 and on Tuesday residents were readying themselves for their village to flood a second time in just over two years.

Council staff in Fishlake distributed sandbags to residents on Tuesday as the village prepared for potential flooding

Many villagers have only been able to return to their homes for a matter of weeks, and some still haven’t managed to move back.

Doncaster Council said it had delivered 40,000 sandbags around the area since a flood alert was first issued last week.

Over 200 council staff in Fishlake joined with residents and volunteers to distribute sandbags yesterday, with each home receiving up to twenty.

Debbie Twell, 60, said the mental impact of last years’ floods was high in the minds of many residents.

She said: “We’ve not got an easy few days ahead of us. It was traumatic last time. Unbelievable.

“I can still hear the sound of the water running down the road in my head.

“For people living with anxiety, it’s taking us back to where it was last year.”

55-year-old Richard Grainger had to evacuate his home for nine months after last year’s floods. He has only just had new flood doors fitted.

He said: “The floods have brought out a lot of different illnesses. We know someone who has post-traumatic stress disorder, and we have friends who still aren’t back in their homes.”

Neil and Jayne West only returned to their home in December after living in their back garden for months.

Mrs West said: “We are not leaving again. We’ve got a plan of action that involves taking doors off. We are more prepared now.”

Mrs West, 53, is following advice to shield owing to an underlying health condition.

And Doncaster council chief executive Damian Allen, who visited Fishlake yesterday to oversee the preparations, said that the council had identified 2,000 shielding people across the area whose homes might be hit by floods.

He said: “Efforts are going well since the major incident was declared on Monday. Covid has added even more complexity to our preparation. All those vulnerable have been matched with a flood warden and there’s been lots of knocking on doors and phoning up.”

Mr Allen was adamant that lessons have been learnt from the deluge in 2019, and co-operation between councils, the environment agencies and residents had improved.

He said: “We have much closer, honest and trusting relationships.”

Flood warden and neighbourhood watch member Peter Trimingham, who led much of the efforts to assist flooded residents in 2019, said he believed the council had learnt lessons from last time.

Mr Trimingham said: "We feel very positive. The volunteer effort has been fantastic. We've got 17 new flood wardens trained by the environment agency, the council and internally by us.

"The council have learnt a lot from 2019. We've got local lads with us today doing a tremendous job."

In Calder Valley, where flooding was also feared, the council said it was on 24-hour standby to assist with relief efforts if needed and has set up virtual support hubs for residents affected.

Coun Scott Patient said: “Council teams and our partners are doing everything we can to prepare for this week’s expected bad weather. We’re urging local residents and businesses to take all the steps they can to protect themselves and their property. “There are simple things we can all do to get ready to deal with any issues caused by heavy rain or flooding, and I know we’d respond with Calderdale’s usual kindness and resilience.”

The Department for Food, Environment and Rural Affairs (Defra) confirmed on Tuesday that no evacuation plans are in place as of yet, but that local authorities and agencies had been instructed to ensure any evacuation centres are covid compliant.

Craig Woolhouse, Flood Duty Manager at the Environment Agency, said: “Environment Agency teams are out on the ground clearing grilles, screens, deploying temporary flood defences and closing flood barriers.

"We urge people to keep away from swollen rivers and not to drive through flood water – it is often deeper than it looks and just 30cm of flowing water is enough to float your car. ”