Sheffield floods ‘brought out Blitz spirit’

Flooding in Chapeltown
Flooding in Chapeltown
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TODAY marks the fifth anniversary of the devastating floods which deluged Sheffield in 2007 - and community figures have remembered the determined spirit city residents showed in bouncing back from the disaster.

Thousands of people were forced to leave their homes and millions of pounds of damage was caused when 24 hours of record rainfall caused rivers to burst their banks and drains to overflow.

Sheffield Central MP Paul Blomfield said people in the city ‘pulled together well’.

“Clearly they were devastating events, but it’s something about the character of Sheffield that people picked themselves up, sorted out their homes and workplaces and bounced back pretty quickly,” he said.

“Lessons were learned and a lot of work has been done on the infrastructure. There’s been a focus on having a much more robust flood prevention strategy.”

Millhouses Park was the scene of a tragedy when the River Sheaf burst its banks. Ryan Parry, aged 14, of Gleadless, was swept into the water while walking home because his bus was cancelled.

John Brighton, from the Friends of Millhouses Park, said the area was covered in debris and the playground was badly damaged, but supporters quickly rallied round to help clear up.

“They looked at it, they decided what needed doing and then got about doing it, whether it be sweeping, replacing or repairing. I suspect it’s in the character of the people. There was a job to do and they got on with it,” he said.

“It’s in the character of people in Sheffield, but also in the character of people in the country.”

Hillsborough and Brightside MP David Blunkett compared the response seen in Sheffield to the courage shown by people during World War Two.

“We had undoubtedly the speediest and most co-ordinated response to many of the areas that were flooded five years ago,” he said.

“The spirit that pervaded Sheffield was very much like that seen in the Blitz. People were prepared to go the extra mile, which meant many of the worst problems were dealt with much more quickly. The spirit of Sheffield was very much to the fore.”

Mr Blunkett said ‘a lot of work’ was done on improving drainage systems and clearing rivers but had his ‘fingers and toes crossed’ it was never repeated.

n See our eight-page flood anniversary special inside today for more pictures.