Storm Barbet has come and battered the UK. Whilst you’ll have heard about flooding up in Scotland and around Nottinghamshire, Yorkshire hasn’t been given the same attention. It left residents feeling abandoned by the authorities.
Back in 2007, Catcliffe was devastated by flooding. I was only a young child, but I remember my own house flooding in the neighboring village, but we didn’t have it anywhere near as bad as Catcliffe. Following the floods, the Environment Agency and Rotherham Council spent £15 million on an anti-flooding scheme designed to protect several Rotherham villages from seeing the same devastation again.
The problem is it has happened again. It’s happened again and it's worse than before. Whilst other areas of Rotherham did flood, it managed to avoid most of the villages that had previously seen bad flooding in 2007. Catcliffe however wasn’t so lucky. On Saturday (21 Oct) 250 homes were evacuated as the River Rother burst its banks and the village found itself once again struck with disaster. As I’m writing this Catcliffe is still very much underwater. Most residents can’t get to their homes to begin assessing the damage, the water is still far too high.
You can fully understand why residents are so angry. After what happened in 2007 this was never supposed to happen again, especially not so soon. People living in Catcliffe struggle to move out not just for sentimental reasons but because they simply can’t sell their houses. After these floods have hit again it’s going to be even harder. Flood defences were set up in Catcliffe but they evidently weren’t enough. Talking to some of my friends in Catcliffe it seems that flood barriers weren’t used correctly meaning the village, which is a natural floodplain, has been sacrificed once again. It’s simply not good enough and quite rightly they want the Environment Agency to do more.
Whilst the water level of the river is starting to drop the same cannot be said for the standing flood water. It will need pumping as it did in 2007 but that hasn’t started yet leaving residents even more frustrated. They literally cannot do anything about it. They can’t get to their homes to try and salvage anything. Once again South Yorkshire is left to fend for itself, but this is people's lives. A TV can be replaced but sentimental items can never be replaced.
Many people in Catcliffe will have already been struggling. These are people I went to school with, I know the Cost-of-Living Crisis was already an issue for many. Now with their homes destroyed too these people are desperate for help yet it doesn’t seem to be coming. I’m not saying the people of Catcliffe deserve special measures, they deserve the same measures that other areas of the country are getting. Over in Doncaster just 20 minutes away, sandbags were being delivered to protect the villages that have a high risk of flooding. Catcliffe didn’t get that.
The true impact of these floods won’t be truly known for a while yet but the people of Catcliffe deserve answers as to how this could be allowed to happen again.