South Yorkshire was hit by its most devastating floods since 2007 in November last year.
The flooding happened fast, with little warning and those householders and businesses impacted have been struggling to recover ever since.
Jill Theobald found out how South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation (SYCF) set up an emergency appeal the very next day and spoke to some of the businesses affected
Unprecedented levels of rainfall. Water spilling into homes. Damage to business premises and stock.
When the rains came again last year, South Yorkshire was badly affected once again by flooding.
Figures provided by the four local authority areas show more than 1,000 households were affected by flood water with the resulting damage making many homes uninhabitable for at least the immediate future. Areas of Doncaster were particularly hit hard with many of the low income and most disadvantaged areas worst affected.
Local charity South Yorkshire’s Community Foundation (SYCF) sprang into action the following day by setting up an emergency appeal and has been working to provide financial relief. Beginning with Phase 1 £200 blanket payments to help families with immediate needs, they went on to distribute larger payments through Phase 2 for those worst affected across the region.
SYCF ran a similar appeal in 2007 and raised almost £1.6m at that time to distribute out into communities. This time around the charity has already topped £500,000 and is continuing to distribute funding.
Chief Executive Ruth Willis said: “The extraordinary response from affected communities to help one another since the flooding began has been a lifeline for many. From a cup of tea and a listening ear to large scale volunteer community clean ups and food and cleaning goods donations, people have stepped up without hesitation.
“We have had an incredible response to our appeal and people have been so generous. The payments we are making all come from charitable donations and are truly appreciated by those who have been affected.
“So many people, who are still reeling from the floods are incredibly vulnerable. The community efforts on the ground are truly amazing and humbling but we need more support and more resources for everyone impacted. I can’t overstate how important it is that we raise as much money as possible so we can help as much as we can.”
After the flood waters subsided, taking weeks in some areas, people were left assessing the damage and long-term implications and cost to their homes and businesses.
Social enterprise Re-Read reuse, redistribute or recycle high quality donated books to disadvantaged children to reduce waste and make a difference to literacy, educational achievement or quality of life in the local area.
The Doncaster business had built up an inventory of nearly 235,000 books and in the last 12 months gifted in excess of 35,000 to children living in South Yorkshire – and then the floods hit. The organisation that aims to ‘keep books out of landfill and stories alive’ was facing a nightmare tale.
Re-Read Founder Jim McLaughlin said: “When the dam burst its banks, our warehouse, office and equipment was badly damaged, and we estimate we lost 100,000 books. As a social enterprise we already operate with very small profit margins and don’t have a lot of resources.
“But our director set up a Go Fund Me campaign and along with a Twitter campaign – which was retweeted by authors like Caitlin Moran and Anthony Horowitz – we managed to raise enough money to sustain our 11 staff through Christmas and into January.
“Penguin donated 2,000 books which was wonderful, while Dr Lynn Collier spotted our campaign and arranged for donations from London public schools so we took a trip down and collected a vanload of books which was overwhelming.
“North Doncaster Development Trust offered us offices on a short-term loan and Doncaster Council let us use the empty former Poundland unit in the Colonnades so the support we have had has been wonderful.
“Our insurers Aviva have been fantastic too and have really pulled out the stops for us so we’re hoping to be back in our HQ by the end of January.”
Business and social enterprise consultant Jamie Veitch has several clients affected by the floods in Sheffield. He told unLTD: “This time around, several Sheffield organisations didn’t want to draw attention to the flooding they had experienced. Not because they hadn’t taken precautions – all had – but because they were aware that further downstream, in Rotherham and Doncaster, the impact of the flooding was enormous, and they didn’t want to draw attention from that.
“They quietly got on with cleaning up, one of my business clients affected by flooding even made a donation to SYCF’s flood relief fund to help other organisations they thought might have been worse affected or didn’t have their resilience.”
And ending on a positive – and preventative note – over to Kim Jennings, a Senior Catchment Manager for the Trent Rivers Trust. The charity works with partners to deliver environmental, community-based and capital works projects to improve the river environment of the Trent and its tributaries (including in the Idle and Torne catchment – the river Torne flows from Maltby through Doncaster to the Trent).
Doncaster resident Kim, who witnessed the effect of the flooding first-hand, said: “Flooding is not a one solution issue and the recent flooding across the Trent Catchment provides an opportunity to investigate and develop a more resilience-based approach to flood risk management within the catchment with local businesses, which works for both communities and our natural heritage.
“The Trust is recognised as a leader in the catchment in providing Natural Flood Management (NFM) solutions as part of a resilience-based approach to flooding which enables communities to work with the land to identify areas which can be used for flood storage and use natural interventions to help slow the flow of water downstream.
“NFM can also be used to create new habitats and expand on existing ones, such as wetlands for example. This approach is maximised when whole communities are involved including local businesses, landowners, and local residents as everyone can contribute to reducing and improving their understanding of flood risk, whilst improving their local environment.”
South Yorkshire Fire & Rescue declared a major incident at around 10.30pm on Thursday 7 November as a result of widespread flooding across the county.
999 control operators have taken more than 2500 emergency calls, not just relating to flooding, since then
SYFR carried out around 290 rescues
SYFR pumped more than 75 million litres away from flood hit areas