MP caught up in chaos as flash floods hit Sheffield

Linda Howard at her Middlewood Rd shop
Linda Howard at her Middlewood Rd shop
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ROADS in Sheffield were this week checked for damage caused by flash flooding as businesses and residents mounted mopping-up operations.

As the fifth anniversary approaches of the devastating summer floods, parts of the city, especially around Oughtibridge, Hillsborough, Stannington and Ranmoor were once again found to be vulnerable to deluges.

Penistone and Stocksbridge MP Angela Smith joined neighbours in battling floods on the Wadsley Park estate at Middlewood.

Drains and sewer systems could not cope with torrential rain between 9pm and 10pm on Sunday, resulting in premises being flooded and road surfaces being torn up.

By the following morning, Myers Grove Lane was still flooded and one lane of the A61 Penistone Road, heading away from the city, was closed due to water flowing off Hillsborough Park.

Wadsley Lane, Limetree Cottage Lane and Midhurst Road were later found to have damaged sewers, with Yorkshire Water due to carry out repairs.

On Middlewood Road, Gaynor Grant, who runs S&M Furnishings, opened her shop on Monday to find the ground floor under water with thousands of pounds worth of damage to her stock.

“I couldn’t believe it – we flooded on St George’s Day last year and lost thousands and now it has happened again,” she said. “The council came out cleaning the streets afterwards but it was too little too late – the drainage system just can’t cope and something desperately needs to be done. It is hard enough to run a business in this day and age without worrying about flooding every time we get heavy rain.”

Simon Brown, of Aladdin’s Cave Computers in Middlewood Road, saved his business with sandbags. His mum Lynda Howard said: “The rain was torrential and the drains just couldn’t cope.”

Paul Wilson, whose wife runs Hilary’s Bread and Confectionery Shop, criticised motorists. He said: “The idiots who kept driving through caused a lot of the problems because every time they went past they caused waves of water – I think the police should have shut the road off sooner.”

Dorothy Littlewood, who runs a corner shop in Wadsley Lane, urged the council and Yorkshire Water to improve drainage and sewerage systems. “Something has to be done – this has been going on for too long. The council needs to tackle the root cause of the problem and sort out the entire drainage system because it can’t cope.”

MP Angela Smith teamed up with neighbours on the Wadsley Park estate in the aftermath of the downpour.

At around 2am, she feared for her own home as the garden was covered in up to six inches of water, but she escaped the worst as sandbags were laid, unlike a neighbour who was forced to move out.

Mrs Smith said they tried to brush water out of the house but it was “futile”. Several other properties were also in danger.

“Once the sandbags were down we went out to see whether we could help neighbours. It was such a horrible experience standing in the street with neighbours trying to deal with the situation. “The police and the fire service were absolutely brilliant. They were so professional and supportive. Their first concern was for the family that was badly flooded. They made sure they had somewhere to go.”

It was the third time in five years that flooding was a problem on the estate, said Mrs Smith. There was a longstanding problem in the Upper Don Valley in general, and more attention should be given to drainage when planning permission was granted, she said.

Mrs Smith also caused for better co-ordination between the council’s Street Force and the emergency services in dealing with problems. The council organisation was in the best position to establish whether the police and fire service should be called.

There was initial frustration in the early hours of Monday when calls to the Street Force number were met with a menu of options.

Nick Hetherington, head of the council’s Street Force said: “This was a short, sharp, heavy burst which was so intense the drainage and sewage systems could not cope. It caused damage to some roads and lifted manhole covers and caused some flooding to properties.”