Residents and businesses devastated by the flooding of 2007 have welcomed a new scheme to provide extra protection against water damage across the city.
Sheffield Council is preparing to ask the Government for cash to deliver a £56 million set of six flood prevention schemes, aiming to avoid a repeat of the devastating floods of 2007.
If the scheme is approved by the council’s cabinet, and £23m of Government grants are secured, alongside £14m of private investment, improvements will be made to culverts, drainage and defences across the city.
Coun Jack Scott, introducing the scheme, said the city will ‘never again’ be flooded on the same scale as 2007.
Seven years ago the waters claimed two lives - 14-year-old Ryan Parry, swept away in Millhouses, and 68-year-old Peter Harding, washed away as he got out of his car on The Wicker.
Hundreds of people were trapped in homes and workplaces, and abandoned cars littered streets drowned under several feet of water.
Heeley resident Beverley Nunn lives along the River Sheaf and saw the devastation up close.
She said: “The bottom of Chesterfield Road just looked like a swimming pool. It was insane.
“The River Sheaf burst its banks and flooded everything. There were abandoned cars and people were wading through the water.
“Around Don Valley and the Wicker it was particularly bad. People climbed trees to escape the water.
“The scheme for the River Sheaf is welcome, definitely, because Chesterfield Road is one of the main arterial routes in Sheffield.”
Staff at Wicker Mobility on The Wicker had to be rescued by boat when floods hit.
Manager Ellie Bennett said: “We were really badly affected. It happened at about 3pm and the staff were stuck in until 9pm before getting rescued.
“The staff were all upstairs and they were traumatised when they saw a man struggling through the water with a child on his shoulders, because there were roadworks on the road at the time and holes in the road. He made it, but somebody did die very close by.”
She said the scheme is welcome, if a little late, adding: “It was 2007 when it flooded and we are only getting flood defences now.
“What if it had flooded between then and now? We came very close in 2012.
“I am grateful something is being done. I wish it was more.”
The planned scheme consists of £18.5m for extra defences in the Lower Don Valley, £12.4m for the River Sheaf’s catchment area from the city centre to Millhouses Park, £11.9m for the Upper Don area including the River Loxley, Rivelin and Little Don, and £2m for the Upper Blackburn Brook in Ecclesfield.
It also includes £8.2m for ‘culvert renewal’ across the city and £2.6m for managing surface water and flood risks at new housing on the Manor.
Deputy Prime Minister and Sheffield Hallam MP Nick Clegg said: “As a local MP, I have been making the case for investment in flood defences for Sheffield because I know first-hand just how devastating the events of 2007 were.
“Homes were flooded, many businesses were forced to shut down, and we had the shocking sights of helicopter rescuers winching people from their places of work.
“While ultimately we will always be at the mercy of mother nature and climate change, extra investment can help to mitigate the impact of any future floods.
“This work will provide extra protection for thousands of Sheffield homes and businesses.”