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Sheffield ‘in a much better place’ to withstand flooding, despite travel chaos caused by storms

Flooding during Storm Bronagh (pic: George Griffiths/Twitter/PA Wire)
Flooding during Storm Bronagh (pic: George Griffiths/Twitter/PA Wire)

Sheffield survived a battering from two storms in the space of 48 hours a little bruised but still in one piece.

And the way Sheffield coped with the worst that storms Ali and Bronagh could throw at it shows how things have improved since the devastating floods of 2007, according to the man in charge of maintaining the city’s streets.

The twin storms proved a destructive tag team, with Ali bringing down trees across the city on Wednesday, before Bronagh delivered half a month’s worth of rain in the space of less than 24 hours.

READ MORE: Major Sheffield road flooded as Storm Bronagh brings 12 HOURS of heavy rain

The Streets Ahead team responsible for maintaining the city’s streets received more than 60 calls on Wednesday related to fallen or damaged trees and more than 80 urgent calls about flooding the following day.

Some vehicles became stranded on waterlogged roads, with one woman having to be rescued from her car by a passerby, and social media was awash with tales of nightmare journeys during the downpours.

The disruption prompted some motorists to ask whether lessons had been learned from 2007 and enough was being done to keep drains and gullies clear.

READ MORE: Storm Ali - Strong winds blow roof off house in Sheffield

But Darren Butt, Streets Ahead account director at Amey, said he believed the city’s roads had coped well given the exceptional conditions, with 109mm of rainfall recorded in less than 24 hours.

He praised the ‘tremendous effort’ by staff to keep traffic flowing – albeit slowly – despite the extent of the downpour having taken them by surprise since no weather warning was in place.

“Unfortunately all the debris brought down by Storm Ali the day before was washed down the roads and covered the gully grates, preventing water draining away in some places,” he said.

“But Thursday illustrated the success of some of the great work we’ve done across the network to make it more flood resilient.

“Limb Lane in Dore, for example, was notorious for flooding but we’ve done remedial work there over the last 12 months and I was pleased to see it didn't flood during the heavy rain.

“We’ve come a long way since the 2007 floods. If you look at the highways and the remedial work we’ve done we’re in a much better place than we were.

“We routinely clean 55,000 gullies each year as part of our maintenance programme, as well as reacting quickly to reports of any blockages.

“All that’s in addition to the £21m flood alleviation scheme in the Lower Don Valley which was completed earlier this year.”

Mr Butt described how around 30 extra staff had been deployed to clear Sheffield’s streets on Thursday, which was the wettest September day ever recorded at the city’s Weston Park weather station since records began in 1882.

He said this weekend was likely to be a busy one, with a weather warning in place from 9am on Sunday morning.

He urged anyone to report fallen trees or flooding to Streets Ahead by calling 0114 273 4567 or tweeting @sccstreetsahead.