England flooding: Woman dies after being swept away in Derbyshire

  • Published
Media caption,

Drone footage filmed from Matlock shows the extent of the floodwater

A woman has died after becoming submerged in floodwater as parts of England were deluged with a month's worth of rain in a day.

Her body was found hours after she was swept into Derbyshire's River Derwent.

Elsewhere, people have been evacuated from their homes as rivers reached record levels in some areas.

During a visit to the area, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said: "We need to prepare and we need to be investing in defences."

The Derwent is expected to peak in Derby city centre at 22:00 GMT, while police have ordered the closure of a main route into the city.

The woman was reported to have been swept away by floodwater in Rowsley, near Matlock, in the early hours of Friday and the body was found about two miles away in Darley Dale.

Derbyshire Police said her family had been informed and formal identification was yet to take place.

Mark Hopkinson, who witnessed the emergency operation to find the woman, said he saw police officers and mountain rescuers searching in the area.

"We saw a little drone go up and the coastguard helicopter came, and that was then circling, hovering over some trees," he said.

Image caption,
There has been severe flooding in Darley Dale where the woman's body was found

The heaviest rainfall on Thursday night was at Swineshaw in the Peak District, which had 112mm (4.4in) in 24 hours.

Parts of Sheffield experienced 85mm - just 3mm (0.1in) less than the area's monthly average.

More than 100 flood warnings are in place across England.

The Environment Agency has issued six severe flood warnings for locations on the River Don.

Fran Lowe, from the Environment Agency (EA), urged people to take them seriously "as they represent a threat to life".

"Respond immediately and get out of any place affected by a severe flood warning," he said.

Image source, PA Media
Image caption,
Boris Johnson visited Matlock where he met emergency workers

The River Don, which flows through Sheffield, Rotherham and Doncaster, has hit its highest recorded level, at just over 6.3m, higher than it was in 2007 when it also flooded.

South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service said in the past 28 hours crews rescued more than 120 people, with about 1,200 calls to its control room.

In Doncaster:

  • Residents in Yarborough Terrace, in the Bentley area, were rescued by boat as waist-high water filled the street
  • More than 50 people were rescued from static homes at Willow Bridge Caravan Site since the river overtopped

In Rotherham:

  • People were told to stay at home and not leave unless asked to do so by the emergency services
  • Firefighters used boats to rescue people who were stranded in the Parkgate shopping centre on Thursday night, with dozens spending the night at the town hall
  • The EA said it was using high-volume pumps to move water away from homes in Catcliffe, one of the areas of greatest concern
Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
People were taken to safety in boats in Rotherham

While visiting Matlock in Derbyshire, Boris Johnson thanked emergency workers and said he was impressed at how people "had pulled together".

He said: "It's businesses particularly who deserve our sympathies and they've had a really tough time.

"You cannot underestimate the psychological effect of flooding on people - it is a big, big blow.

"People have been moved out of their homes and probably hundreds of businesses have seen damage to their properties - we stand ready to help in any way that we can."

Image caption,
Some residents of Yarborough Terrace in Doncaster criticised the official response

The town's mayor, Liberal Democrat David Hughes, said: "Is this an election stunt or is the government concerned for the people of Matlock?

"It's very difficult to determine."

In Derby, flood defences were built on Exeter Bridge as the River Derwent continued to rise.

The A52, the main route into the city from the M1 was one of several roads partly closed due to flooding and many bus services were suspended.

It reached its highest-ever recorded level and is expected to peak at 22:00. Some premises in the city have been evacuated and Derby Theatre has cancelled performances for the night.

Media caption,

Watch: Aerial views of Mansfield mudslide

Elsewhere in the East Midlands:

  • A "major incident" has been declared in Worksop, Nottinghamshire, after dozens of homes were evacuated
  • Residents from 28 properties in Mansfield have been told it is still unsafe for them to return home after a mudslide on Thursday

Every time there's serious flooding, questions are asked about why it was allowed to happen.

One simple answer is governments of all parties have been accused of not spending enough on protection.

You can build walls along river banks and many places have been guarded this way but such 'hard defences' are expensive and obtrusive.

An alternative is to employ what are known as soft defences. These include encouraging farmers to manage their land in ways that let fields hold back floodwater.

Driveways and car parks can be surfaced with materials that allow it to reach the soil underneath.

Another option is to make homes more resilient - fitting exterior doors with waterproof plastic panels, sealing the ground floor and raising fuse boxes.

In some ways the country has become better prepared for flooding but lessons are not always learned and the misery for many keeps being repeated.

Image source, Rufford Ford Action Group
Image caption,
A Morrisons van was trapped in the Rufford Ford in Nottinghamshire

Serious disruption continues to affect the transport network, with Northern warning of severe delays and cancellations across its network.

The rail operator issued "do not travel" advice for passengers using several lines hit by floods.

Those affected run between:

  • Sheffield and Gainsborough
  • Sheffield and Lincoln
  • Sheffield and Goole
  • Sheffield to Leeds via Moorthorpe.

The line between Hebden Bridge and Manchester reopened in the early afternoon.

East Midlands Railway said flooding had affected the line close to Derby with trains on the London/Sheffield route being diverted.

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Met Office meteorologist Alex Burkill said although the rain was easing, the "impact of that will continue to be felt".

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