Sheffield flood victims say they feel like ‘sacrificial lambs’ as home fills with five feet of water

A couple whose bungalow was flooded in South Yorkshire for the third time have said they feel like ‘sacrificial lambs’ - with little help and concerns about flood barriers
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They are concerned a flood barrier being lowered in Rotherham Town Centre, may have led to flooding elsewhere – but the council said it did not. Trudy and Dennis Gervis, who have lived on Chapel Walk for 12 years, feel they have been let down by the authorities when their bungalow flooded with five feet of water last week.

The couple were woken up by police at 4am on Saturday, October 21, and were given an hour to evacuate. They stayed in a hotel for two nights, and are currently staying with family, until their temporary bungalow is ready to move into, but have lost everything they own.

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They, and other residents, said they feel they have been left in the dark about why Catcliffe flooded so badly – and are concerned that a new £4m flood barrier in Rotherham Town Centre may have led to flooding elsewhere, in a bid to save the town centre. But a spokesperson for Rotherham Council said it had ‘no grounds’ to believe that the flood defences in the town centre ‘had any negative impact’ on the flooding in Catcliffe.

Mrs Gervis said: “There was enough warning, we got out safe. Everybody in the area feel that they closed the flood gates to save the town centre and Parkgate. Nobody will give us answers. Nobody will tell us for definite what’s happened. I’m angry and upset we’re not getting any answers. We feel like sacrificial lambs.”

Mr Gervis added: “Nobody will give a straight answer, will we be sacrificed if this happens again?”

“Is somebody ever going to admit they sacrificed Catcliffe – if it floods again will this happen again?”

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Mrs Gervis praised Rotherham Council for their help after the flood – even offering to book a hotel room for another week for the couple. She said: “The council has been really good, they found us accommodation and given us a temporary bungalow at Whiston. I’m not coming back here. I can’t.”

A council spokesperson said: “We have no grounds to believe that any of the borough’s other flood defences had any negative impact on the sad events at Catcliffe. There is a formal Section 19 review taking place to establish the cause of the flooding across the borough, which will consider any contributing factors. We understand residents also have concerns about use of the Environment Agency’s regulators on the River Rother, and this too will be considered as part of this review.”

Storm Babet brought around a month’s worth of rainfall in 18-36 hours and the end of last week, and the river Rother in Catcliffe saw the highest river levels ever recorded. Around 120 properties in Catcliffe were evacuated by firefighters in the early hours of Saturday morning, after the river burst its banks.

A £4m flood barrier, which was completed last year, was lowered on October 19 ‘as a precautionary measure’, according to RMBC. The barrier, located at Forge Island, was designed to reduce the risk of flooding to the town centre as part of a package of measures.