Socialist Worker

After deadly floods - anger at authorities’ failures and Tory cuts

by Sadie Robinson
Issue No. 2680

Boris Johnson visited Derbyshire in the wake of flooding - and said it didnt amount to a national emergency

Boris Johnson visited Derbyshire in the wake of flooding - and said it didn't amount to a national emergency (Pic: PA)

There is rising anger across Yorkshire and the Midlands at authorities’ ­failure to protect people from flooding.

The authorities are utterly unprepared for extreme weather events because ­protecting ordinary people isn’t a priority.

Floods hit parts of Sheffield, Doncaster, Rotherham and Derbyshire after Sheffield received 84mm of rain over 36 hours on Thursday and Friday of last week—nearly their average monthly rainfall.

One woman, Annie Hall, died after being caught in floodwater in Matlock, Derbyshire. The Environment Agency issued seven separate “threat to life” flood warnings for the River Don.

Yet Boris Johnson, ­visiting Matlock on Friday, said the floods were “not ­looking like something we need to ­escalate to the level of a national emergency”.

Amid the misery, some firms show they are ­concerned only about profit.

Severe flooding across South Yorkshire in June 2007 saw insurance firms increase their premiums by as much as three times, or refuse to insure people.

Many people affected by flooding will get nothing to make up for the damage to their homes and possessions.

The Association of British Insurers said climate change is increasing the risk of ­flooding—and could make some places “impossible to insure”.

Residents in Doncaster slammed the council for ­failing to warn of the floods or to provide support.

Bentley factory worker Sharon Gapes said, “We were hoping the council would sort the flood defences out. We are going to lose everything again.

For this to happen just before Christmas is devastating.”


The Labour-run ­council instructed people in the ­village of Fishlake to evacuate. But residents said many homes were flooded by the time they were told to leave.

Dan Greenslade and Jade Croft can’t get back to their flooded home in Fishlake following the birth of their daughter Indie on Friday.

“We have no idea when we might be able to get into the house,” said Dan. “We have not heard anything from the council or the Environment Agency, nobody is replying to us. We just don’t know what’s going on.”

And he slammed the council for failing to prepare for the floods. “Two weeks ago, the waters got over the breaches,” he said.

“Every year, water levels get high, so they knew it could happen.

“You’d have thought that the council would have done something in preparation. By the time we had a flood ­warning and sandbags were given out, we were already flooded.”

In Bentley, Doncaster, residents also said the council only brought sandbags after the water was in their homes.

The floods should surprise no one. Governments have known of the risk of flooding for years.

But they have imposed cuts that put more people at risk. Cuts have hit flood defences, the fire and rescue service and the Environment Agency.

The Association of Drainage Authorities warned in 2015 that ­government cuts could leave almost twice as many ­households at “significant risk” of flooding within 20 years.

And it added that the risks will get worse as “extreme weather events become more frequent and unpredictable”.

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