Parts of Yorkshire woke on Friday to find flooding at its worst level in years, with evacuations and severe disruption forcing some residents to camp out in a shopping centre.
Heavy rainfall arrived across swathes of the Midlands and parts of the north of England on Thursday, as an amber weather warning signalling “danger to life” was sent out by the Met Office.
Sheffield, Rotherham, and Doncaster – as well as a number of smaller towns and rural areas – have been badly affected.
With continued heavy rainfall overnight, its expected that the traffic gridlock is expected to last well into Friday’s rush hour.
Darren Butt, who works for emergency contractors Streets Ahead, told the BBC : “The situation is not far from biblical, it is very frustrating for the traveller but we are dealing with a big volume of water, it is very slow and frustrating.”
On Thursday, 35 homes were evacuated as a precaution in Mansfield after a mudslide in the area, while hundreds of people were kept inside Sheffield’s Meadowhall shopping centre due to flooded roads and gridlocked traffic outside.
Dramatic pictures and videos posted to social media show the true extent of the flooding, with images showing abandoned cars almost entirely submerged as the River Don burst its flood defences.
When Bingo hall opens at 4:30 and a bit of drizzle isn’t stopping you pic.twitter.com/0aGWEvonsx— Sam Cunliffe (@samcunliffe) November 7, 2019
The River Don in Doncaster has burst its banks. The environment agency has issued 5 severe flood warnings for the area. pic.twitter.com/arb5CDauPp— Rob Windscheffel (@RWindscheffel) November 8, 2019
Footage captured by one Twitter user showed rescue workers transporting evacuees on dinghies through a flooded car park, depositing them at a McDonald’s outlet which was reportedly being used as an “evacuation centre”.
Another showed a person on a mobility scooter managing to storm through a flood street.
As the extent of the damage caused by flooding continued to emerge on Friday, creatures usually found within the confines of the riverbank were seen swimming in a Derbyshire park.
Families attending an annual Christmas event in the Meadowhall shopping centre were forced to take shelter in the mall overnight as rising floodwaters rendered the nearby roads inaccessible.
Dozens of people hoping to attend the Christmas Live are believed to have been trapped inside Meadowhall, which had previously flooded in 2007, with police warning visitors to stay inside the shopping centre as the car park partially flooded and tram systems ground to a halt.
As Thursday’s torrential rain continued into the night, floodwater could be seen breaching doors on the lower levels of the shopping centre, The Guardian reported. Some customers were reportedly forced to buy their own food, blankets, and clothes after getting soaked during the course of the day.
All trains are now cancelled... we could may be here at Meadowhall for the night🥺 pic.twitter.com/koLAXCmKFX— Hannah Crossley (@Spannaarr_95) November 7, 2019
The highest rainfall in the country on Thursday was recorded at Swineshaw in the Peak District, which had 112 millimetres in the 24 hours to 2am.
“There were a lot of other places that had 80 millilitres or more, especially in Yorkshire,” a Met Office spokesman said.
“The rains should clear by lunchtime, with a fine weekend ahead, but the flood warnings will stay in place for quite a while.”
South Yorkshire Police said there had been “significant issues” in Doncaster, with Bentley, Toll Bar and Scawthorpe the worst affected areas.
Despite assurances the end is in sight, traffic chaos is likely to continue throughout the morning as the downpours persisted throughout the night.
More than 100 flood warnings remain in place, mostly across Yorkshire which has been badly affected by the exceptional rainfall.
The River Don was among the worst affected, having flooded the Rotherham railway station and other areas.
Scenes in Sheffield were replicated in Rotherham, as shoppers found themselves trapped inside the Parkgate Shopping Park due to flood waters.
South Yorkshire Police tweeted that they were working to move “a number of people” who were stranded in the complex to “a place of safety”, with boats called into action to help those inside escape.
A number of houses also had to be evacuated after they were inundated in the village of Whiston, near Rotherham, and, in Sheffield, the council closed Millhouses Park, where a 14-year-old boy was swept to his death in the River Sheaf during 2007′s devastating floods.