Flood defences spared communities the worst impact of Thursday’s deluge, say council leaders

Flood defences installed after the 2007 deluge have been credited with helping save communities in Rotherham and Barnsley from the worst of Thursday’s flooding, though both towns had some victims with the authorities continuing to assist those affected.

By Paul Whitehouse
Friday, 8th November 2019, 4:43 pm
Updated Friday, 8th November 2019, 5:26 pm
Morning after: A car remains in flood water at New Road, Pilley, in Barnsley

Rotherham saw problems in the Bridgegate area of the town centre, around the Parkgate retail centre, Catcliffe and Laughton Common, with problems also reported at Whiston.

Accommodation was provided at the town hall for those who found themselves unable to get home from Parkgate.

Ironically, work started weeks ago on flood defences designed to protect the forthcoming Forge Island development in Rotherham but council leader Chris Read said measure put in place after the notorious 2007 floods had helped protect the town.

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More wide-reaching defences will be installed over the next three years, he said, to provide wider protection.

“Fortunately, the impact on residential properties seems to be minimal, which was the priority,” he said.

A handful of vulnerable people had received assistance from the council on Thursday evening, he said, in addition to the Town Hall being opened up.

He praised the “sterling effort” made by council staff and emergency services and said a review would be conducted to establish exactly what had happened.

“My instinct is that improvements after 2007 helped to prevent it from being worse,” he said.

In Barnsley, it is believed flood defences also helped minimise the impact, though 49 properties across the borough were affected by the floods. However, council leader Sir Steve Houghton said no-one had been evacuated.

He promised help for those who need it and also to find money for new flood defences if they are found to be necessary.

“We learned from the last floods in 2007 so we had measures put in place and ready to go.

“The latest information is that we have 49 properties affected. We have council people out on site to help and assist.

“We know the flood defence measures we have put in place previously have worked, so they have mitigated the damage.

“We have teams who have been working all night so we are having to send them home and redeploy others. We will give residents as much help as we can.

“We will look at what has worked well and learn lessons again to keep updating our systems and look at where we need to put investment and will find the money if it is needed,” he said.