Dozens of trapped shoppers and staff were forced to spend the night in a shopping centre after torrential rain and flooding blocked all the roads outside – while others were evacuated from their homes following a mudslide.
Customers slept on benches while restaurant workers used their aprons as pillows at Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield, while firefighters used boats to rescue others stranded at the Parkgate mall in nearby Rotherham.
A major incident was declared in Sheffield as the Environment Agency issued 121 flood alerts and 117 more serious flood warnings for England today, with the risk not expected to pass for many areas for several days to come.
Staff at Meadowhall handed out free drinks and tried to arrange taxis to help customers – including families with babies – while others bought pyjamas from a Primark which opened late and a Starbucks gave out free cookies.
Some 35 homes were evacuated in Mansfield after a mudslide, while regions across England were hit by traffic chaos amid road closures – with more of the same in this morning’s rush hour after a further deluge overnight.
Rail operator Northern has issued ‘do not travel’ advice for passengers using five lines – Sheffield to Gainsborough, Sheffield to Lincoln, Sheffield to Goole, Hebden Bridge to Rochdale, and Sheffield to Leeds via Moorthorpe.
Northern warned disruption could continue into the weekend, while other train companies hit by the weather include CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, LNER, TransPennine Express, Transport for Wales and Virgin Trains.
Swineshaw in the Peak District saw 4.4in (112mm) of rain yesterday – the highest total in England – while flood-hit parts of Sheffield experienced 3.4in (85mm) during the same period. The November average there is 3.1in (79mm).
People are ferried to safety through the floodwater this morning by firefighters in Rotherham, South Yorkshire
A resident looks out at the floodwater at his doorstep in Bentley, north of Doncaster, in South Yorkshire this morning
Rotherham train station is under water today as railway services across South Yorkshire are hit by the flooding and heavy rain
Vehicles sit in floodwater in Rotherham this morning after the town in South Yorkshire experienced intense rainfall overnight
A man looks at Chantry Bridge as it sits partially in floodwater this morning in Rotherham, South Yorkshire
Cars sit in floodwater in the centre of Rotherham, near Sheffield, this morning following heavy rainfall and severe flooding
Rescuers help a woman get off an inflatable raft after ferrying her through floodwater in Rotherham this morning
Emergency services at Kirk Sandall near Doncaster, Yorkshire, where the council ordered an evacuation this morning
Doncaster Council warned some people to leave their homes because the River Don is breaching its banks near St Oswald Church at Kirk Sandall, tweeting: ‘Residents in these areas are advised to evacuate immediately.’
Around 25 homes in Worksop were also evacuated due to the risk of flooding. Damien West, head of prevention and protection at Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service, tweeted: ‘In Worksop with Crews who are working tirelessly to rescue a large number of people from flooded premises. A very long, cold and hard working night.’
James Timpson, the chief executive of Timpson, the shoe repairs and key cutting high street firm, has said its shops in Worksop in Nottinghamshire, are under water following the heavy rain and will be closed until next week.
Flooding brings transport disruption as train firm warns ‘do not travel’
Torrential rain has caused disruption on the transport network in parts of England.
Several rail lines are blocked due to flooding, leaving thousands of commuters facing a struggle to get to work. Train operators are warning passengers not to travel on a number of routes through Yorkshire and the North West.
This includes lines from Sheffield to destinations such as Leeds via Moorthorpe, Lincoln, Doncaster and Goole. Trains are also unable to run on routes such as Manchester Piccadilly–Cleethorpes, Leeds–Doncaster and Hebden Bridge–Rochdale.
Rail replacement bus services are not being provided due to road closures and unsafe driving conditions.
Network Rail, which owns Britain’s rail infrastructure, said track inspections will take place ‘where possible’.
Rail firm Northern warned that disruption could continue into the weekend despite the weather improving in many areas.
Other train companies hit by the weather include CrossCountry, East Midlands Railway, LNER, TransPennine Express, Transport for Wales and Virgin Trains.
The downpours also caused mayhem on roads as several routes were blocked and some vehicles were abandoned in floodwater.
Sheffield City Council said 14 of its roads were closed due to flooding as of 7am, and urged drivers to take extra care. Six of the roads were reopened by 8.20am.
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.’
Although the Met Office has predicted the flooding rains will clear and move south-east by lunchtime, hundreds of people were kept inside Meadowhall overnight due to flooded roads and gridlocked traffic outside.
South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said they rescued more than 100 stranded people last night, with around 500 calls to its control room between 10pm and 4am.
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.’
Jodie Whelan, 23, who works at the Disney store at Meadowhall, said staff were handing out free drinks and trying to arrange taxis. She got in for her shift by bus but said that getting back home was ‘an absolute no-go’.
She told the BBC: ‘The atmosphere is very weird but communal. Some people got a bit rowdy and it was upsetting seeing some older people and people with babies or children, but thankfully we are all warm and safe.’
Luke Turner, who works at a restaurant at the centre, said he could not drive home so went to bed in the stockroom where he could use ‘aprons’ as a pillow. He told the BBC: ‘I’ve got options, I could have got a taxi home.
‘But that still leaves me having to get a taxi back to work tomorrow. I had an offer from my higher management that if I could get a hotel room for the night… but unfortunately all the hotel rooms around me are full.’
Meadowhall, which also flooded in 2007, had to cancel its Christmas Live event at the last minute yesterday evening, but only after many of the thousands of people expected to attend had arrived.
Rain is continuing to affect parts of Britain today, with temperatures unlikely to get into double figures in many areas
The Environment Agency has issued 121 flood alerts and 117 more serious flood warnings for England today
Rain will continue to affect parts of Britain this weekend with temperatures getting to a maximum of 11C in the South West
People were forced to spend the night at Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield following severe flooding overnight
Sarina Ratcliffe-Jones tweeted this picture of a group of friends staying at Meadowhall having bought pyjamas from Primark
Major floods surround Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield overnight after heavy rain battered the country
People are picture in sleeping bags overnight after the severe flooding surrounded Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield
Jo Aldred tweeted a thank you to Nandos at Meadowhall, saying the restaurant ‘fed my 15-year-old who made the journey for the light switch on and was stuck in Meadowhall last night without any money for a meal – I cannot thank you enough’
While many of those inside managed to leave despite a partially flooded car park, some were forced to spend the night in the shopping centre, according to police.
‘How can it be business as usual when it looks like Venice?!’ Shoppers slam Meadowhall for planning to open as normal today
Customers criticised Meadowhall for planning to open as normal this morning despite the shopping centre being surrounded by floodwater.
Hundreds of people were forced to say inside the mall in Sheffield overnight due to flooded roads and gridlocked traffic outside following severe rain in South Yorkshire.
But bosses told shoppers this morning that they planned to open as normal at 10am, as long as an amber warning – which is due to be lifted – has ceased by then.
Amy Drury tweeted: ‘You’re thinking more about money than people’s safety! It’s alright you opening but how are you expecting us to get in?’
Alice Barker added: ‘You’re not ‘open for business’ you’re open water! How can it be business as usual when it looks like Venice outside?!’
And Richard Vernon said: ‘Nice to see you’ve got your priorities straight… another reason I will always prefer to spend money in our city centre.’
Other shoppers slammed the mall for only cancelling its Christmas Live event at the last minute, which led to people becoming stranded as flooding worsened.
A Meadowhall spokesman said: Whilst the extreme weather conditions persist, the centre remains dry and secure.
‘We will continue to monitor the situation and providing the Environment Agency has lifted its amber warning as forecasted, the centre will open at its normal opening time of 10am.’
With many surrounding routes flooded and trams stopping short of the complex due to ‘heavy rain putting the Tinsley tram bridge at risk’, gridlock led to police advising shoppers and concert goers to stay in the building.
Saskia Hazelwood, 17, from Doncaster, told how she was among those stranded in Meadowhall. She said: ‘When we got to Meadowhall it was very hectic and we heard about the flooding and saw the river about to burst.
‘Our trains were then cancelled so we went to get food, then spoke to the police and security and they told us it was unsafe to leave and there was no way of getting in or out.
‘So we instantly started panicking and, when we found out there was no way of getting home, we went into Primark and all bought spare clothes and we bought food and drinks to keep us going throughout the night.
‘We were in M&S for a while on the sofas until they closed the store, and we were then moved to the Oasis food quarter. We were there until 7am.’
Saskia, a student, added: ‘We were provided with free refreshments throughout the night and morning but it was certainly not enough. We had to basically camp out in the food area until they finally got a taxi to us at 7am.
‘None of us had slept for over 24 hours. We were very tired, stressed and, of course, our families were panicking and kept keeping in touch.
‘My dad even tried driving to us around 11.30pm but, because the centre was gridlocked and also flooded and shut off, he wasn’t able to get to us and so he had to turn around and go home.
‘At the start we thought it would be fun, a nice sleepover, something to certainly remember, but after 14 hours of being stranded in Meadowhall we just couldn’t wait to get home, get into our own beds, feel safe again, and catch up on sleep.’
A Meadowhall spokesman confirmed that the shopping centre would open as normal at 10am today.
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 yesterday, with a number of roads left impassable to traffic, cars stranded in floodwater and gridlock resulting on many routes.
Checks take place in Kirk Sandall near Doncaster today, where the council told some people to ‘evacuate immediately’
A bridge with a sign welcoming visitors to Rotherham town centre this morning after floodwaters rose in South Yorkshire
A photo issued by Network Rail of flooded track at Kiveton in South Yorkshire as rail commuters face chaos this morning
A lorry drives through floodwater near Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield today after the flooding chaos last night
People walk past a car in floodwater in Rotherham today as South Yorkshire is hit by heavy rainfall and flooding
A sign shows cancelled trains at a station close to the Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield early this morning
Police activity near Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield today following the major incident declared in the city
Deer chasing each other through a frost and fog covered scene at Richmond Park in South West London today
Deer rutting in a frost covered landscape at Richmond Park in South West London early this morning
South Yorkshire Police told of ‘significant issues’ in Doncaster, with Bentley, Toll Bar and Scawthorpe the worst affected areas. The River Don was badly hit, having flooded the Rotherham railway station and other areas.
Boy, 12, is forced to leave his bus on the way home from school and wade through ‘freezing’ water
A 12-year-old Sheffield schoolboy said he was forced to leave his bus on the way home from school today and wade through ‘freezing’ water.
After being told to leave school at 2pm due to the flooding, Daniel Harrison and some classmates had to walk after their bus could go no further on Beaverhill Road.
‘The water was up to my knees,’ Daniel said. ‘I had to get home straight away because the water was absolutely freezing.
‘The river had completely opened and all the water had flooded onto the road, it was terrible. You don’t want to be in that water but there was no choice – you had to go through it to get home.’
Daniel was speaking before catching a different bus on Friday morning to Handsworth Grange Community Sports College for a late 10am start.
As this morning, the Environment Agency had three severe ‘danger to life’ warnings in place relating to the river at Kirk Bramwith, South Bramwith and the Willow Bridge caravan site, all in Doncaster.
Northern Rail said it expected ‘severe disruption’ to its network, with services unable to run between Sheffield and Gainsborough Central or Lincoln Central.
Services have also been suspended between Sheffield and Leeds via Moorthorpe following the deluge. Police were also called to Parkgate in Rotherham last night after shoppers were trapped inside due to flood waters.
South Yorkshire Police tweeted that they were working to move ‘a number of people’ who were stranded in the complex to ‘a place of safety’, with boats called into action to help those inside escape.
The highest rainfall in the country yesterday was recorded at Swineshaw in the Peak District, which had 112mm (4.4in) in the 24 hours to 2am.
‘There were a lot of other places that had 80mm or more, especially in Yorkshire,’ the Met Office said.
‘The rains should clear by lunchtime, with a fine weekend ahead, but the flood warnings will stay in place for quite a while.’
Nottinghamshire Police said officers were called to Bank End Close in Mansfield alongside the fire service and Mansfield District Council just before 5pm yesterday following concerns for the safety of people living there.
A police officer mans a roadblock near Meadowhall in Sheffield today after some people were forced to stay overnight
A car sits in floodwater near Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield today where people were forced to stay overnight
Firefighters rescue people in a boat from the Parkgate shopping centre in Rotherham last night following major flooding
Floodwater at Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield overnight which led to people being trapped inside
Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield was put on lockdown overnight after all the roads surrounding it were submerged
Superintendent Mat Healey, of Nottinghamshire Police, said: ‘A multi-agency response has been put in place to deal with this major incident affecting a large number of properties in Worksop and Mansfield and the wider impacts across the county.
‘Thankfully, we understand the peak rainfall has now passed and river levels are expected to subside but this may take some time to be seen on the ground due to saturation, so the impacts are set to continue.’
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Some of the most dramatic scenes were in Sheffield and Rotherham where a number of roads were left impassable to traffic, with cars stranded in floodwater and gridlock resulting on many routes.
Houses were evacuated after becoming inundated in Whiston, near Rotherham. And in Sheffield, the council closed Millhouses Park, where a 14-year-old boy was swept to his death in the River Sheaf in the floods of 2007.
Further north, concerns were growing in the Calder Valley as river levels began to rise on Thursday. Precautionary flood barriers were put in place in Mytholmroyd, which was badly hit in the 2015 Boxing Day floods.
Chris Wilding, flood duty manager at the Environment Agency, said: ‘Heavy rain could lead to surface water and river flooding across parts of northern England, particularly in parts of Yorkshire, Greater Manchester, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire.
The now-overflowing River Don overnight, which is next to the Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield, South Yorkshire
The Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield is pictured overnight next to the River Don which is close to bursting its banks
Hundreds of people were kept inside Meadowhall Shopping centre near Sheffield due to gridlocked traffic outside
The Meadowhall centre cancelled its Christmas Live event last night which was expected to be attended by thousands
‘Persistent showers may also bring localised river and surface water flooding to parts of southern England. Our incident rooms are open and we are working closely with local authorities and partners to reduce the risk of flooding.
Yorkshire residents reveal ‘almost biblical’ rain fell
Residents in the village of Toll Bar near Doncaster, which was hit by severe flooding in June 2007, have told how ‘almost biblical’ rain came down on Thursday.
Post Office worker Kathleen Overton said: ‘It must have started at around 9am yesterday when I was taking my grandson to school, and then it just didn’t stop.
‘At one point the water was coming right over my doorstep, and my daughters and I were worrying that it was going to come into the house.’
The 61-year-old added: ‘People’s cars were getting submerged in the water, gardens were ruined, you couldn’t drive anywhere. It was carnage.’
Another resident, Roy Kerr, 71, said that without the help of young volunteers who put down sandbags and pumped out water, the situation could have been even worse.
He said: ‘It wasn’t as bad as it was in 2007, but it easily could have been if it wasn’t for those lads.’
‘Our field teams are ready to deploy temporary flood barriers to help protect people and property if needed. We advise people to stay away from swollen rivers and not to drive through flood water as just 30cm of flowing water is enough to move your car.’
PhD student Liz Churton, 58, has lost sentimental paintings, art equipment, books and furniture after her basement studio flooded in the space of an hour this morning from 9am.
Her property in the village of Whiston now looks like a ‘floating boathouse’ after water came rushing through the doors of her basement.
Ms Churton, who has lived in the house for around 15 years, said: ‘I was in the house making a cup of tea and got a phone call from the Environment Agency saying there is a flood alert.
‘I had an hour to move as much as I possibly could upstairs. I thought I would have more time but by 10am I was wading through and it was up to my knees.
‘The water came rushing through the basement doors which lead up to the garden. The flood boards kept it at bay for a time but gave in. The whole of my basement is flooded and I have a studio down there.
‘It’s a couple of metres deep and the house looks like a boathouse. I’m currently looking out of my window at a very wide river moving very fast, it treacherous out there.
Nottinghamshire Police said officers were called to Bank End Close alongside the fire service following the mudslide
In Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, residents were evacuated from 35 homes following a mudslide caused by heavy rain last night
Emergency services rushed to Mansfield just before 5pm yesterday following reports of concerns for the safety of residents
A snow plough on the A939 road from Cockbridge to Tomintoul in Scotland clears ice yesterday to prevent travel chaos
‘The garden is one big lake at the moment. I’m not sure what has happened in the rest of the village because it’s cut off. I do feel very shocked and frightened.
Elderly woman on a mobility scooter powers her way through floods
The woman was not daunted by the floods in Sheffield
A hilarious video shows a fearless elderly woman on a mobility scooter power her way through a flooded street.
The woman refused to be daunted by the deluged road in Sheffield after the city was hit by flooding.
Onlookers can be heard gasping and laughing as the determined pensioner pushes on through the water, even as it splashes around her knees.
The incident happened yesterday in the Woodseats area of the city and was filmed by Stephanie Jubb, 25.
Ms Jubb, of Woodseats, posted the video on Facebook saying: ‘Not something you see every day at work.’
The clip shows the large area flooded as cars brave it through the water. A woman is heard saying: ‘Look at it, it’s flooded down there.’
Suddenly, a woman appears in shot driving her mobility scooter. Much to Ms Jubb and her colleagues’ shock, she begins to drive in the water.
Ms Jubb is heard shouting ‘no!’ in disbelief as the mobility scooter ploughs on. But the elderly woman continues to drive through without stopping.
Ms Jubb and her colleagues burst out laughing, amazed by what they had seen.
The video was also shared by the Facebook page ‘Sheffield Online’ where many of the comments praised the elderly woman’s resilience.
You do your best to save the things you don’t want to lose like paperwork, art equipment, my Apple laptop and iPad.
‘It gets to a point where you just need to let go of your belongings no matter the sentimental value and look after yourself.’
Ms Churton had put up flood boards to protect her property as a precaution following the flash floods locally in 2007.
‘It’s not been as bad as this since 2007 – that was when the Uley Reservoir was about to burst its banks,’ she added. ‘Since then, the brook has been reclassified as a river.’
Key speeches from John McDonnell and Sajid Javid took place in Liverpool and Manchester, dodging the epicentre of the relentless downpours on the other side of the Pennines.
But a number of MPs took to social media to log their sodden campaigning efforts, remembering the election itself will take place in dark and wet December for the first time in almost a century.
Labour’s Andrew Gwynne said on Twitter: ‘Why does it always rain on me? The weather is against us in Audenshaw this morning, but the response is (thankfully) not!’
Another Labour candidate, Lilian Greenwood in Nottingham South, posted a picture of an ark with the comment: ‘Looks like we might be needing one of these for today’s campaigning! #Rain.’
Certain parts of north and north-west England could see nearly a month’s worth of rain. Meanwhile authorities in parts of northern Scotland had to bring out the snowploughs after they were hit by a sizeable snowfall.
Further south, homes and businesses could be flooded as prolonged rain pummelled areas around Hull, Middlesbrough, Lincoln and Scarborough.
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