Dozens forced to sleep in Sheffield shopping centre as torrential rain causes major flooding

A car sits in floodwater near Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield where dozens were forced to stay overnight after flooding caused local roads to become gridlocked. (PA/Getty)

30 shoppers were forced to spend the night in Sheffield's Meadowhall shopping centre on Thursday after torrential rain caused major flooding throughout Yorkshire.

Shoppers were trapped in the centre after the River Don, which runs right next to the centre, burst its banks making roads impassible.

Some parts of Northern England saw a month’s worth of rain fall in a single day, forcing residents to evacuate their homes.

35 homes in Mansfield were evacuated as a precaution after a mudslide in the area, while residents in around 25 homes in Worksop were also ordered to flee due to the risk of flooding.

An image taken from inside the centre by a Twitter user showing flood water outside Meadowhall shopping centre, just off the M1 near Sheffield, after torrential rain hit the area. (Twitter @morgannlouisee_ )

A major incident was declared in Sheffield as rain continued overnight forcing people to sleep on benches and seats inside Meadowhall.

Authorities warned shoppers to stay inside the centre as the surrounding streets, including the M1 motorway, were flooded and quickly became gridlocked.

South Yorkshire Police advised everyone in the centre not to leave, and warned others from trying to visit.

A spokesperson added on Twitter: "Please avoid the area. Events at Meadowhall are CANCELLED. We advise only essential travel."

Samantha Ratcliffe-D'Arrigo, 53, far left, was trapped with her family in the centre and bought matching pyjamas. (Samantha Ratcliffe-D'Arrigo Twitter)
The River Don next to Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield, South Yorks close to flowing over on Thursday. (SWNS)

The shopping centre reopened later but many trapped shopper chose to stay the night because they couldn't get home.

One family ,who did not spend the night but were trapped there for around ten hours, all bought matching pyjamas from Primark and set up a base camp in an upstairs cafe.

The Meadowhall shopping centre in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, last night. (SWNS)
A man gathers items from a car along a flooded street on Thursday in Sheffield after torrential fell rain in the area. (PA)

Samantha Ratcliffe-D'Arrigo, 53, was with her mum Irene, 84, husband James Ratcliffe, 53, brother-in-law David Hoyland, 57, and her two sisters Lee and Siobhan.

Mrs Ratcliffe-D'Arrigo, who lives in Las Vegas with her husband told Yahoo News: “It was a rough day, the whole family panned a shopping trip to Meadowhall, it was raining but we had no idea how bad it was going to be.

“My sister had to leave and she rang and said she couldn't get out. She was trapped in her car for three hours, she couldn't even park but eventually was able to come back into the shopping centre.

“We bought plugs and chargers for phones, we bought a tonne of pyjamas but made the most of the situation and had a great time.”

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She said that there was a sense that many shoppers were oblivious to what was happening outside until they were told they couldn’t leave.


A graphic shows the total amount of rainfall for the regions shown in northern England on November 7 2019. (PA Graphics)

“There was conflicting information and we couldn't hear announcements. A lot of people didn't know what was going on,” she said.

As of 9am on Friday, the Environment Agency had 111 flood warnings in place, a slight reduction on the number in place at dawn, as well as five severe “danger to life” warnings relating to the River Don in Doncaster.

A spokeswoman for Meadowhall said: “We anticipate that nearly 80,000 people visited Meadowhall yesterday and less than 30 customers remained in our building throughout the night.

“They were supported by night staff, security and members of the Meadowhall management team who, where possible, helped them to either secure hotel accommodation nearby or arrange taxis home.

“For those who were unable to get to their home safely or preferred to stay with us due to adverse weather conditions where they live, we looked after them by providing an array of blankets, coats and towels as well as a continuous supply of refreshments.”