PEOPLE putting lives at risk by ignoring the danger from fast-flowing rivers and flooded roads are causing a major concern to Doncaster’s emergency teams.
A driver had to be rescued when his van was stranded in 4ft of water on a road closed to traffic yesterday, while earlier a man and a boy got into serious difficulties while paddling their dinghies on the fast-flowing River Don near the town centre - labelled a ‘death trap’ by a senior fire officer.
Although all flood warnings in Doncaster have been removed by the Environment Agency, the authority is keeping a wary eye on the situation because there has been no let-up in the wet weather.
No severe rainfall is expected over the next few days, although Friday is predicted to be wet, but Doncaster Council says it is constantly monitoring the weather forecasts.
Water levels in the Don and other watercourses remain high and firefighters are urging people to steer clear of open water after the dramatic river rescue.
A man in his 20s and his nephew, aged about 10, were pulled to safety by firefighters using ropes and harnesses after getting into difficulty on the River Don at Marshgate.
The pair had been boating on the river, swollen by last Friday’s heavy rain, when currents from a fast-flowing weir took hold of their two dinghies.
Martin Oldknow, South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue east area group manager, said: “These two people had a very lucky escape.
“Our normal advice to people is always to stay clear of rivers and open water, as there’s no way of telling the flow, depth or any hazards which may lie beneath.
“However, after the recent heavy rain, this is even more important as rivers like this one can quickly become a death trap.”
Another fire crew was called out at about 6.30am yesterday when a bread delivery van driver ignored ‘road closed’ signs and tried to get from Arksey to Barnby Dun along the flooded Fordstead Lane - the only road in Doncaster still closed.
He got within 300yds of Barnby Dun before the van could go no further and about 4ft of water was lapping up to the vehicle’s doors.
He called for help and firefighters used an inflatable walkway to reach the man and escort him to safety, leaving the van abandoned in the flood.
The incident happened despite warnings from Doncaster Council that ‘flooding has made this road extremely dangerous and residents are urged not to try to drive through until closure is lifted’.
The incident brought condemnation from Doncaster Mayor Peter Davies and persuaded the council to erect barriers at both ends of the road Lane.
Mr Davies said: “The council puts up signs and cones for a reason, and to ignore the warnings and drive through into the flood water is not only irresponsible but dangerous.
“We are now having to look at putting up a physical barrier across Fordstead Lane to stop drivers getting to the flooded area and putting themselves and others at risk.”
After the weekend’s torrential downpours, the fire service say people should be even more careful near rivers, lakes and canals.
Advice includes: Obey safety notices; stay clear of locks and weirs where there may be dangerous currents; and always wear a lifejacket when boating.