UK flooding: Dozens spend night in Sheffield Meadowhall shopping centre

By Francesca Gillett
BBC News

  • Published
People stranded in the MeadowhallImage source, Luke Turner
Image caption,
Some shops stayed open late while Carphone Warehouse reportedly let people charge their phones

Dozens of people have spent the night in a shopping centre in Sheffield after torrential downpours flooded the city's streets.

People bedded down on benches and chairs in the Meadowhall centre, while others tried throughout the night to get home in cars or taxis.

A major incident was declared in Sheffield as rain continued overnight.

Elsewhere, in Rotherham firefighters rescued people by boat who were stranded in the Parkgate centre.

People are being told to evacuate their homes in the villages of Old Kirk Sandall and Sandal Grove near Doncaster after the River Don burst its banks.

There are three severe flood warnings - meaning a danger to life - in place along the River Don.

More than 100 flood warnings remain in place, mostly in the north of England, with the rain causing serious disruption to roads and rail services.

The Environment Agency said a number of high volume pumps were being used to move water away from homes in Catcliffe in Rotherham.

Sheffield City Council said several major roads from Derbyshire to Sheffield remained closed.

Image source, South Yorkshire Police
Image caption,
The fire service pulled people to safety from the Parkgate centre

Earlier on Thursday, 35 homes in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, were evacuated after a mudslide caused by torrential rain.

'Tired and stressed'

In Sheffield, hundreds of people - including those attending the Christmas Live event, which was cancelled - were kept inside Meadowhall centre by police after the surrounding streets were flooded.

The centre later reopened but many people chose to stay overnight, after being unable to get home.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
The floodwater surrounding Meadowhall shopping centre, just off the M1

Disney Store worker Jodie Whelan, 23, stayed at the centre, where she said staff were handing out free drinks and trying to arrange taxis.

She said she travelled in for her shift by bus but said getting back was "an absolute no-go".

"I'm feeling very tired," she added. "A bit fed up but trying to make the best out of an awful situation. 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."

Image source, Luke Turner
Image caption,
Shoppers who were unable to get home found comfort where they could

Another member of staff, Luke Turner, who works at a restaurant, said he was unable to drive home after his shift so bedded down in the stockroom where he said he could use "aprons" as a pillow.

"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," Mr Turner, from Chesterfield, said.

Media caption,
Becky said people 'bought pyjamas from Primark' to make their stay more comfortable

"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."

"There's people in suits sleeping, one guy in a Tesco uniform," he added.

Meanwhile Charlotte Lowther-Fuller, 18, from Grimsby said she was unable to get to a taxi as the roads and junction were cordoned off.

"It was impossible for him to get us," she said, adding: "I am feeling quite tired, drained and cold from the whole situation and just want to get home as I have college to go to in the morning."

Image source, Charlotte Lowther-Fuller
Image caption,
Charlotte Lowther-Fuller and her friend set up camp outside shops before being moved to the dining area

Sixth-form student Rosie De Roeck, 16, from Kirkby-in-Ashfield, spent around nine hours in the centre with her friend before her mum managed to rescue her shortly before 01:00 GMT.

It was "horrible" and "quite scary", she said, adding that Primark stayed open late, with her and many others buying pyjamas after getting wet in the rain.

She said coffee chain Starbucks gave out free cookies and a man who was also stranded shared a box of crisps he had bought.

Image source, Saskia Hazelwood
Image caption,
"I honestly don't think I'll be able to sleep," said Saskia Hazelwood, second from left, who bought pyjamas

College student Saskia Hazelwood, 17, from Doncaster, who was stranded with three friends when trains were cancelled, said people were "stressed, tired and bored" in the centre.

"My dad tried to drive but he literally couldn't get in," she said. "He tried going up all the back roads, up streets the other way, he couldn't get in."

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
One man found his car stranded in Sheffield after torrential rain
Image source, Lee Parkinson
Image caption,
Roads close to Meadowhall were flooded after hours of persistent rainfall
Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
A man cycles through a flooded street in Sheffield on Thursday after torrential rain

At shortly after midnight, Sheffield City Council declared a major incident, saying there was "some water" coming over the top of the River Don's defences, but it was not yet a breach.

According to the forecast from the Environment Agency, the River Don at Doncaster is predicted to reach its highest recorded level later on Friday.

Meadowhall shopping centre said it would open as normal on Friday, providing the Environment Agency lifts its flood warning as forecasted.

"Whilst the extreme weather conditions persist, the centre remains dry and secure," it said in a statement.

South Yorkshire Police worked through the night to move up to 100 people who were stranded in the Parkgate Shopping Park in Rotherham.

Alex Johnson, South Yorkshire's deputy chief fire officer, said additional resources had been brought in from elsewhere in the country - that included five high-volume pumps and five more boat crews.

Rotherham Borough Council urged residents to stay at home and not leave unless told to by emergency services.

"Roads across the region have been adversely affected and we would advise people not to travel unless it is absolutely necessary," the council said in a statement.

Media caption,
Roads across Sheffield have been flooded, prompting warnings to drivers

Earlier on Thursday, South Yorkshire Police said there were "significant issues" in Doncaster, with Bentley, Toll Bar and Scawthorpe the worst affected areas.

The weather has also caused train services to be cancelled.

Northern Rail issued a "do not travel" warning to commuters using three routes, saying flooding had closed the lines between Sheffield and Gainsborough, Sheffield and Lincoln and Hebden Bridge and Manchester Victoria.

Fears about rising river levels on the River Ryton in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, has led to a number of homes being evacuated in Central Avenue.

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