Guardian News and Media/London
Villagers whose homes have been swamped with waist-deep floodwater have accused the authorities of abandoning them.
Fishlake, near Doncaster, was cut off by its worst flooding in living memory when the River Don burst its banks.
About 700 residents were told to evacuate after nearly a month’s worth of rain fell in a single day.
But many said by the time flood warnings had been issued and sandbags handed out, it was already too late to save their properties from the flood.
And they said they have since been left with “no support” on the ground from the local council.
After the weather brought chaos to parts of Yorkshire, Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, and with little sign of the water subsiding, it is likely to be days until residents can start to examine the damage. But with forecasters warning of more heavy rain in the North today, there were fears that other communities could be devastated too.
In Fishlake, which was accessible only by boat or tractor yesterday, residents joined together to provide hot food and drinking water for families who had been unwilling to leave their homes and farmers caring for livestock.
Louise Holling, who owns The Old Butchers cafe, said: “We gave out coffee and sandwiches to everyone who wanted them, but we’ve had no support at all from Doncaster Council. My house is one of the few which wasn’t flooded. We’ve had 15 people staying. We can’t understand why the floods were so bad. There are people who have lived in the village for 90 years and they’ve never seen anything like it.”
Linda Bushell said she received a flood alert text message from the environment agency only after the water was in her house. “It’s completely under water,” she said. “Everything is just floating about in my garden.”
Builder Mark Sengelow, 47, woke up on Saturday morning to find his house filled with 2ft of water. He said: “It stinks. There’s debris and sewage in it. It was heartbreaking to see the house ruined.”
In the nearby market town of Stainforth, residents were providing supplies and support to families who had abandoned their homes. Mother-of-five Amy Grant, 27, said: “We’ve had donations from Sainsbury’s and McDonald’s but absolutely nothing from Doncaster council. It’s terrible.”
Doncaster council insisted its staff had been working around the clock to help people affected by flooding, while an RAF Chinook helicopter was drafted in to shore up flood defences.
Chief executive Damian Allen said: “The council is unable to offer on-the-ground support to residents who are in severe flood warning areas, based on advice from the environment agency.
We have set up a dedicated rest centre for all Fishlake residents in neighbouring Stainforth, where council officers are on hand to offer dedicated support, advice and guidance.”
Seven severe ‘danger to life’ flood warnings remained in place, all along the River Don in Yorkshire, along with 40 active flood warnings.
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